Abira Shah: I will pick old classics over any genre any time
The singer headlines the Retro Future show with Zaheer Abbas Khan, Anj Chauhan, Shahid Abbas Khan and Kaykay Chauhan at Harrow Arts Centre on September 9
SOME of the greatest British music talent is on the UK live circuit and versatile singer Abira Shah firmly falls into that category.
The daughter of acclaimed singer Sittara Shah has carried on her mother’s legacy with superb songs and great live performances. She headlines the Retro Future show with Zaheer Abbas Khan, Anj Chauhan, Shahid Abbas Khan and Kaykay Chauhan at Harrow Arts Centre on September 9, to help raise funds for Dementia UK.
The musically rich concert features classic Bollywood songs presented in a contemporary way.
Eastern Eye caught up with the top talent to discuss the show, music, her biggest inspiration and the secret of a great live performance.
How much does performing live mean to you?
Performing live means everything to me as I’ve always looked at performing and singing as my passion and first love.
What has been your most memorable moment on stage?
There’s been many, but a particular one I remember is when I got to perform for the queen of Morocco. She heard my voice and asked the organisers, ‘who’s singing, please bring her to me’. So yes, I would definitely remember that as one of the memorable moments on stage.
Tell us about the Retro Future show?
The Retro Future show is as close to our signature line as we can say. We are singing songs by legends such as Lata Mangeshkarji, Mohammed Rafi saab and Asha Bhosleji in 2023. So, retro portrays our speciality as well as our capabilities of being able to perform these legends in our own style, but with respect and without any massive changes. We still try to keep the sweetness and a touch of real artists in their music.
The show has a strong 1980s flavour. Which song from that decade do you love the most?
I grew up listening to Lataji the most. Some of my favourites of her from the 1980s are Dekha Ek Khwab, Sun Sahiba Sun and Ek Radha Ek Meera.
What is it like being on a bill with other singers?
I am blessed to have performed with many artists and it’s always a beautiful feeling to be able to share the same stage with so much talent. And of course, there’s always something to learn from every artist. I’m lucky to have some really close friends who I perform on stage with as well. Once we are on stage together then it’s not work/ job for us, but just us having fun.
Which genre do you prefer as a versatile singer?
Without thinking I would always choose old classics, as I have been raised and grew up listening to them, whether it is semi-classical or sad/romantic numbers. I will pick that over any genre any time.
What inspires you as an artist?
My mother Sittara Shah will always be my biggest inspiration and support when it comes to music. My mother is an official ‘Ganda-bandh Shagird’ (musical disciple) of Madam Noor Jehan. I have seen my mother shining on stage since I opened my eyes. So, I’m blessed to have a mother who I could learn from and get inspired by.
What do you think is the secret of a great live performance?
The secret is always to make sure your audience feels comfortable – they’re as nervous/scared as you are before a performance starts. Once you have made a connection with the audience, your show is a hit and you’re good to go.
Who is your own music hero?
Definitely my mother Sittara Shah, not just because of her voice or singing but also because of her struggles and hardships. We all know our field of work could be a little brutal sometimes and that is what I have seen my mum face from the time she set foot in this industry. We are lucky to have a voice in these times because back then you could not speak a lot about the unfairness of showbusiness.
Why should we come to the Retro Future show?
I think you should definitely come to the Retro Future show because you don’t want to miss out on the variety and different flavours we have to offer. It’s not just one, but various artists with different abilities and vocal tones. There’s something for everyone.
Why do you love music?
Ah, that question. I can write a whole book on this, but I’ll keep it short and sweet. I’ve seen and experienced music healing me in many situations in life. People always told me they feel peaceful and relaxed after listening to my voice or my music. That, I think, is the biggest reason for me to love music. It is just a healer. Retro Future show at Elliot Hall, Harrow Arts Centre, 171 Uxbridge Road, Pinner HA5 4EA on Saturday, September 9.