Today we are in conversation with a truly multifaceted personality. She is a successful doctor, an accomplished singer, a thoughtful poetess and an extremely talented painter. She is Dr Latha Damle from Bangalore.
How ‘music’ happened in your life?
I can say, through a happy accident when I was quite young. Basically, I’m not from a musical family but all loved listening to music. When I was in second standard (I was about 7years) in Udupi, a small town in Karnataka popular for Krishna Temple, I was supposed to sing two devotional songs on our annual day. It used to be in the evenings those days and continue till night. My father who came to pick me didn’t come inside the auditorium as he thought it was some elder girl singing when I was singing! Pleasantly surprised, he took me home after the program was over. We had just gotten home when we saw a man sent from school asked us to come back as the revered Pejawar swami (seer) who was the chief guest that day wanted to listen to me again! Overjoyed my father took me and I sang again. I was blessed by him with a golden pendant which I still fondly possess and he asked my father to put me to classical singing. For my father, it was like God sent words! I still remember this event like a movie in the back of my mind. Thus I joined the music school when I was about 7 years but couldn’t pursue as my father would be transferred every three years. During the same time, my voice was appreciated as that which suits Radio by an AIR guy who listened to me singing for a skit in the radio program. He also asked me to apply for auditions giving the forms. But the life just misplaced those papers!
Did you have any formal training. If yes, from where and when did you start your formal training?
After those on and off musical training, my proper training started when I was about 11 years in Puttur from Vidwan Kanchana Narayana Bhat and Vidwan MA Narasimha Achar in Bangalore. I finished my Juniors in distinction. But then came PUC, medical, post graduation, establishing the medical practice etc., when classical training took back seat. However my light music and filmy music performances continued. Music and me could never stay separate, I guess! Made time to again hone my skills in classical, joined again, did my seniors under the guidance of Vidwan Srinivas Prasanna. Then switched to Hindustani which I’m currently pursuing under Vidushi Lakshmi bhat, senior disciple of Pt. Vinayak Torvi. Apart from the above, I have also taken training from Rajan sir of Rajan-Nagendra fame about play back singing and studio techniques.
What motivates you everyday to keep singing amidst this competition and new singers?
Well first thing is music itself is dynamic enough to attract and motivate anybody. I always loved the journey of music and really never kept any goal for myself. I will probably keep singing till I die. Music and I are soulmates. Tell me who needs motivation to talk to your soulmate? Only thing that motivates me is the scope for improvement in music. How best you can tune your voice to each note, sustain longest etc. I was never a type who’s keen to compete with anybody or be a part of any race, be it music or any aspect of life. And music is a ocean. All those who are connected to music are part of it. Some may deep dive, some may float, some may sit and watch the ocean, so all are happy at what they are doing. I take my own steps in the journey of music at my own pace without being disturbed. Music is a meditative tool too. It’s peaceful, serene and divine. I sing, you sing, he sings, she sings and all of us sing for happiness and peace. So by default I don’t see anybody as a competition.
Singers and songs that you would love to listen at any point of time.
The toughest question because the list is endless. Yet I dare to take it.
Classical: Bhimsen Joshi, Rashid Khan, Ajoy Chakraborty, Kaushiki, Ashwini Bhide, Balmurlikrishna, Yesudas, Rahul Deshpande,
Light music/filmy/ghazal: Lata, Asha, Rafi, Kishore, S. Janaki, Vani Jayram, P Susheela, SPB, Mehdi hasan, Ghulam ali, Nursrat Fateh ali, Rahat fateh ali, Jagjit singh, Chitra, Hansraj, and many more.
My favorite songs are also huge. Few to mention that I can hear at anytime
Yajsathi kela, maze mahera pandhari, dil me ik lehar si, baat karni mujhe, Ye wadiya ye fizaye, most of Ilayarajaja and Rajan-nagendra songs, many Panjabi sufi songs like nit khair manga, sajana tere bina, akhiyan udeek diya and many more.
One song that you would have loved to sing.
Any of the above mentioned. Specifically may be zara si ahat, dil me tujhe bithake, theredide mane, banallu neene (kannada) and again many more
Tell us more about your music influences.
Influence is from classical to folk to light music to filmy. I hear music from all jonres. To a small extent also from western classics, country, soft rock and jazz.
One music director you would love to work with.
Late Ravindra Jain, Ilayaraja, Rajan-Nagendra, Rahman, and in kannada many good music directors like Harikrishna, Manikant Kadri, Veer Samarth, Arjun janya, Anoop Selin and many more. Please forgive me for not choosing one because all are good. I would love to work with any music directors if my singing suits their need.
You are an accomplished painter also. Tell us more about that.
That’s altogether another story. I was attracted by colors in my childhood and that slowly turned into serious passion as I grew. It always amazes to see the blank canvas turning into a beautiful piece of art with techniques and colors, how light gets infused, how form turns into 3D etc. I’m a self taught painter. I paint in oils, acrylics more and also in water. My teachers are the works of classic artists like Rembrandt, William turner, Edward hopper, an many such renaissance artists and of course books and tutorial videos. I have held some group and solo exhibitions with success in Bangalore. My art works are available in Chitrakala parishat gallery. Needless to say, painting needs more patient and continuous time than other forms of art. Hence due to current music project, it has taken a backseat. I need to soon get back to my brushes!
Any fond memories that you want to share
I feel I’m blessed mostly in having encouraging people in my journey of arts and music. My fond memories are mostly those that I relate to meeting wonderful souls in my journey. Literally everyone including my family has helped me to scale higher or stride forward. I cherish their association the most. I always feel art should be a tool to connect human beings, make the earth a better place to live.
About the independent music album
I think it was just an extended thought of my poetry and music. When I write poems using the metre, I usually hum the tune simultaneously. A song usually is born then. It then takes the shape as it grows. Then I thought I would compile few emotions and make an album. The theme of this album thus is different moods (bhaava) incorporating joy, love, sad, desperate and introspective moods. Talented music composer Nakul was kind enough to shape the music to a wonderful dimension. As the plan was to release on YouTube supportive videos were also made. Thus the ‘Bhavasele’ album was born. Wish it gets needed support and love from music lovers.
Though I don’t keep much goals just have few things in the mind like working more to bring out more independent albums, pen more, paint more.
Anything specific that you want to do in next one year
I don’t think like corporates! No deadline based work in my world of arts and music! Jokes apart, I believe in keep working to keep up the good work. Explore more options in these fields of my interest. I believe ‘spontaneity is the soul of art. It neither hurries nor hinders’.
Her Youtube channel for her independent album is the title of the album itself ‘Bhavasele’ pronounced as bhaavasele. Here are the links to all the five songs in the album.
Some of our paintings
Dr Latha Damle can be reached on her email id firstname.lastname@example.org