‘Queen of Melody’ Shreya Ghoshal rivets STL audience

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This past Saturday was the first time I had ever walked into the 4,000-seat beautiful and historical venue, The Fox Theatre. After initially starting out as a movie theater, the “Fabulous” Fox Theatre has featured various Broadway shows like “Matilda the Musical,” “The Sound of Music,” “Mamma Mia!,” and more. This time around, though, I was going in to see something different. I was going in to be part of the first time The Fox Theatre has ever brought a South Asian artist to perform—Shreya Ghoshal.

My first exposure to music came through songs in Indian films. Not only did I listen to Bollywood music, but all types of South Indian songs as well. As I was exposed to India’s music as a whole, I always recognized one specific smoothtextured voice that could be heard in any Indian language. Little did I know that this was the Angelic voice of Shreya Ghoshal.

Known as the “Queen of Melody,” Ghoshal started her career at the age of 16 on the television music reality show “Sa Re Ga Ma” featured on the channel “Zee TV.” Since then, she has received four National Film Awards for Best Female Playback Singing in Hindi, Bengali and Marathi films, and won several Filmfare Awards in the South as well—while working with legendary musicians of India including A.R. Rahman, M.M. Keeravani and Ismail Darbar to name a few.

I couldn’t contain my excitement knowing that I was going to watch such a talent with a large body of work live. But it wasn’t just me. Before the show started, people filled The Fox, entering in their finest saris and suits, there to celebrate the music of India at its finest. Before Ghoshal came out in a sparkly green gown, Hrishikesh Ranade, a finalist from the show “Sa Re Ga Ma” opened for her, with the song “Jeena Jeena” from Badlapur, which sent the crowd roaring. But it wasn’t until Shreya Ghoshal entered the stage singing the Hindustani Classical piece “Mohe Rang Do Laal” with such precise technicality, that the beauty of music was tangible. Accompanying Ghoshal was a nine-piece band consisting of three drummers, an electric guitarist, an acoustic guitarist, two pianists, a synthesizer and a flutist, all who simply elevated the entire performance.

After finishing the first song, Ghoshal continued to sing her melodies “Saibo,” “Jaadu Hai Nasha Hai” and “Shukran Allah.” Between the pieces, she exclaimed to us that she was extremely excited to be performing in St. Louis for the first time, especially in the historic venue of The Fox Theatre, which was overwhelming for her—especially when she was in the green room. Before continuing on to her tribute to A.R. Rahman that consisted of “Barso Re,” “Saans” and “Kaise Mujhe” she told us that she was here to create a feeling of romance through her music, which was done beautifully and flawlessly throughout the concert. During the A. R. Rahman tribute medley, the flutist was at his finest as he played through staccato notes with such precision along with the strong melodies.

There were many elements to the rest of the concert, including the many heavily-drummed dance numbers that she swayed to such as “Chikni Chameli,” “Yeh Ishq Haye” and “Nagada Sang Dol,” while a huge crowd from the audience shamelessly accompanied her. Once the songs would start, a group of people would rush from the audience and fill up the aisles trying out the moves that they remembered from the movies. A couple of men bowed down to her between songs to which she laughed and returned their bows.

Before the second half of the performance, Ranade appeared again and performed a tribute to the late Mohammed Rafi, bringing back the evergreen hits of the ‘80s. Ghoshal appeared again, now in a gorgeous red gown, to continue celebrating the time for ‘60s-through-‘80s music by singing songs sung by her greatest influences, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and K. S. Chitra. Ghoshal added her own touch to the songs “Jiya Jale” and “Tujhe Dekha To” with her slightly textured voice using her high range. She also took this opportunity to show her expertise in the highly technical Carnatic music as she sang each note.

After a few more dance numbers, a couple on the left of me screamed out, “We want to hear Telugu songs!” to which she replied by jokingly telling everyone to “chill,” but then sang A.R. Rahman’s “Vintunaava” from the film “Ye Maaya Chesave” to please the fans.

After the chaos calmed down, Ghoshal closed with “Zoobi Doobi” and “Teri Meri” and thanked her fans for being there for her.

I’ve been listening to Shreya Ghoshal throughout my childhood, but hearing her live was a divine experience.