(November 3, 2021) The nondescript bhajans, which were once confined to the temples and pujas at home, are now charting a new path, thanks to the devotional fusion music genre. It’s the amalgamation of mantras with jazz and hip-hop music that’s grabbing the attention of the younger generation, and one such artist who is making this genre quite a hit in the UK is Shivali Bhammer. The British-Indian singer, who calls herself a spiritual being, is blending the beats of the West with the bhajans of the East and how.
Being brought up in a family that’s quite spiritual, Bhammer started making music at the age of 15. But it was devotional music that pulled her and she was keen to give it a modern twist so that people could identify with it. This Global Indian has achieved that with her music.
From equity trading to devotional music
Born in London to Gujarati parents, Bhammer comes from a family that delves deeper into the philosophy of life. It was her great grandmother and great aunts who introduced her to spiritual music and at 15, she started making her own music. For the 34-year-old, her musical talent wasn’t something that she discovered instead it was a gift bestowed upon her. “Singing comes naturally to me then anything else I do, to me it is like breathing. I can’t separate it from who I am. I began nurturing it when I was 15 years old with my best friend Arjun. We didn’t think of talent then, we just thought of what makes us happy and what we enjoy doing,” she told Be Asian Magazine. For the next few years, the duo kept making devotional music and titled their collection Basement Bhajans, however, not without adding a bit of zing with their fusion.
But it wasn’t until she was 22 that she dipped her toes into the world of music as a professional. Before exploding into the music scene, Bhammer, a graduate in Economics and Philosophy, worked as an analyst for global investment firm Goldman Sachs, and even contributed articles to the Financial Times and other major publication. But it was while working 9 to 5 that she realised that music was her true calling.
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While devotional music was something she completely loved, she wanted to layer it with new melodies and modern instruments in order to make it accessible to the youth. At 22, Bhammer pitched the idea to Sony Music and this was the beginning of her musical journey.
The beginning of musical journey
“I felt passionate about music, and about devotion, and that the two should merge and include more than just a harmonium. It was only when I was 22 that I got signed with Sony Music BMG and suddenly my work that I had called Basement Bhajans became The Bhajan Project and it changed my life,” the singer told India.com.
Her maiden album wasn’t just a collection of mantras but a blend of beats and sounds from the genres of R&B, soul, rock and pop sprinkled with a generous dose of acoustic guitar. It’s this fusion that has worked wonders of this talented singer who grabbed eyeballs with The Bhajan Project.
The album earned her two nominations at the Global Indian Music Awards at the age of 23, and soon she was listed among the Top 25 under 25 South Asian Artists in England. “When I look back on that it was a magical moment, where the universe did most of the just done the preparation and arrived on time,” she added.
Blending East with West
Since then, Bhammer has been busy perfectly blending Western instruments with her Eastern rhythm. The singer, who calls herself a blend of the East and West, believes that merging the two worlds come naturally to her as she is an Indian who grew up as a British girl.
Without any formal training in music, Bhammer has managed to cast a spell on music lovers especially in the devotional music genre with The Bhajan Project and Urban Temple, both of which reached No 1 on the iTunes World Chart. In fact, the 34-year-old has made devotional fusion music quite popular in the UK. “London has a big Asian network and it really embraces people with a different sound. It is receptive of talented young artists – we see them sprouting everyday,” Bhammer told DNA.
The singer is also a motivational speaker who never misses a chance to talk about mindfulness and meditation. Interestingly, she is the only Indian artist to be invited to the prestigious De Doelen Theatre in the Netherlands to story-tell Hindu Mythological love stories. For her, music is art which is an expression of one’s creative love.
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Her East meets West sound has put her music at the centre of the world fusion movement in the devotional genre. Her albums are a soothing reminder that devotion exists in every action, and that’s what makes her music appealing to most of the people. Her intention with her music has been to deliver a message with love. When Bhammer stepped into the music world she wanted to change the landscape of the devotional music industry and take it to new heights. And a decade after her first album, Bhammer has been able to create a niche for herself in the music world.