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Solo album, playback singing, musical influences & motivation: Indipop Queen Alisha Chinai talks about industry and more

The Queen of Indipop, the voice behind many classic hot songs like Kajra Re, the singer who pushes the boundaries of fusion music, the one and only Alisha Chinai. She has belted out numerous songs that make up the cultural landscape of the 90s and 2000s including the decadal anthem ‘Made in India’. Today, she continues her genre-pushing work with her passion for fusion and world music. 

Coming from a family with a background in and passion for music, Alisha benefitted from a supportive environment which allowed her to break stereotypes and fully explore the freedom offered by pop music. And yes, she is quite proud to admit to having navigated controversies in her unique style and having been risque at times. Indeed, lest one think her to be yet another singer, Alisha Chinai clarifies and elaborates on her rather outspoken views on the music industry, playback singing, and managing the controversies in the latest episode of Jay-Ho! The Jay Kumar Show. 

Alisha spoke about her formative musical influences in her house. Her father was a classically trained singer while her South Africa-born and raised mother listened to many western songs and sang herself. Alisha’s felicity in fusion stems from this environment. She says that she received the best of both Indian and Western music and plays a pivotal role in forming her current fusion-inspired projects, in which she has worked with numerous world musicians including the talented Furkat Azamov, with whom she collaborated to sing Chamkega India. 

Coming to the constant debate on playback singing and solo albums, Alisha Chinai says that she prefers a good melody above all else. Of course, while in playback singing, a singer must perform based on the director and the producer’s thought process while in the album, one has freedom to express oneself musically. Alisha said that she doesn't see the need to choose one over another as she has always maintained a parallel career alongside playback singing giving us Jadoo, Aah...Alisha, Baby Doll, Madonna, and later Made in India. Thus, she also worked in the Bollywood industry, first collaborating with Bappi Lahiri followed by the timeless heartfelt ballad Tinka Tinka, followed by the Bollywood anthem Kajra Re. To quote her, she ‘has a song for each decade’ and how lucky music lovers are everywhere to receive the fruits of her talent. 

Workplace ethics need to be reformed: Alisha Chinai 

Coming to the industry, she mentioned how when she first made her foray in the music industry, there was only MTV, which played a key role in the emergence of pop singers. Today, of course, music streaming has changed the game with greater artist control over royalties and revenues, something Alisha asserts is necessary for the reformation of the music industry. She also talks about how workplace ethics need to be reformed. Elaborating further, she said that playback singing is often relegated to the background with singers receiving poor pay and operating under a stifling environment where they are not given the flexibility to flourish. However, she is confident that as times progress, singers will benefit from greater democratisation and change in workplace ethics. 

Alisha on her present work 

Finally, coming to what motivates Alisha Chinai, she says that her freedom to work at her own pace is the greatest reward. Having experienced fame and fortune, she focuses on what makes her happy. Thus, she wants her music to be heard all over the world and is actively collaborating with international musicians and bringing the world together. But she is more relaxed and focussed on the kinds of music projects she wants to do rather than do what others may want her to do.

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