The Diva Diaries with Lorna
Musical Fiesta Nite 2017' organized by the Goan Outreach Association of Mumbai saw a record crowd of over 2900 people braving the Mumbai traffic to reach Dublin Square at Phoenix Market City Mall in Kurla (West) on 14th January 2017. What an awesome gathering of a community united by a language: Konkani
It was truly my first. I had no idea what to expect at a Konkani concert, but impressed, proud and grateful I came home that night with a renewed sense of belongingness and creative vigour. First times are always forever.
So there I was along with DJ Leah, Goa’s young and exuberant `fashion in music’ talent currently in Mumbai (she’s a regular talent at Tito’s, having opened for Ukrainian DJ Teri Miko recently), to acquaint her with a sense of our community. It was her first too. So blank slates both, straddling two generations, she Goa born, I Kuwait born and raised, wondering what the evening had in store for us.
Putting together a Konkani concert is no easy feat. Allan Vaz and President Goan Outreach Association, Sebastian A Sequeira vouch for the days of planning, running around, coordinating, scheduling that goes into artistes, sponsors, venues, some headache and way side politics. Then demonetisation hit the country. “At one point we had almost given up. The earlier sponsors who had committed, backed out. We were too far into organising to quit this dream. It was our first time at such a scale,” Sebastian had shared, willing to dig into his own personal pocket to see the project through. But Team G.O.A are a tough bunch of cookies. They worked and they prayed for some miracles…
Sponsored by Viva-Goa, K Raheja Corp and co-sponsored by Expat Properties, the 2900 odd gathering of Goans from Goa and Mumbai at the Dublin Square (a first record breaking crowd at any concert at Phoenix Market), spoke a language of unity and a strength that was enviable. In today’s times, I would say, much needed.
“Words can’t express my deep gratitude to all the people who put this amazing show together for the love of spreading Konkani music through song and dance right here in the heart of Mumbai. People,talented singers and musicians coming together all for a good cause,” shared Sebastian at the concert.
And so it began, and right on time I should commend. Opening the act was compere for the evening, Engelbert Rose introducing the young winners of Goencho Avaz — a popular contest for young Konkani singers in Goa —- Shunaina Baptista and Ancy Gonsalves. With their young, powerful voices, the girls topped favourite hits, sashed and swayed in their pretty gowns, echoing the need for young Goans around the planet to shoulder the cultural responsibility of taking forward a language that unites us all. My evening had begun well.
What followed next took everyone and me by surprise. In a show effort depicting smart programming, the diva herself — loved and respected world over as the Nightingale of Goa, a sobriquet hard earned and carried effortlessly by her sheer personality and talent — Goa’s beloved `Diva of Konkani Music’ a living legend of our times, the mighty Lorna glided to centrestage. Wearing her years gracefully and smartly in a crimson gown, shimmering in light, accessories and body glitter, and an energy, vitality and exuberance never seen before glowing from her, her voice strong, vibrating with raw power, Lorna blew up the Dublin Square. The crowd erupted as one to welcome her. What followed next, over 3 hours of her performance at the venue, was a binding love of Konkani, Goa and Lorna.
With her unforgettable deep voice shaking the core of many, her fans danced and some wept. Some struck in awe, or was that my face. Lorna, in a robust energy that defied her chronological disposition, rose to the occasion like a boxer in a match ring. Knocking them all home. Singing her popular songs, ‘Noxibak Rodta’, ‘Dennem’, ‘Abghat Kelo’, `Tuzo Mog’, ‘Calangute,’ ‘Sopon,’ and some new original content, she entertainment, high-fived, shook hands with fans around the stage, blowing kisses in the air promising everyone “I love you all.’ She meant it. Some danced, jived, couples took to the waltz as the crowd unitedly sang along, mouthing lyrics and chorus, celebrating their lives and moments to her nostalgic songs of the yesteryears. Some remembering their own made during the golden era of her reign, and indeed Konkani’s stellar musical benchmarks of the yesterdays.
However, if you would think nostalgia was the flavour of the moment, no, not a chance. Not with singer–composer and Goa’s favorite pop singers Allan Vaz and Oluv Rodriguez in the house. Together, Allan and Oluv shoulder the initiative to share and promote the love of Konkani and of Goa to the younger generation across platforms in India and abroad. Their original content catchy, modern and yet smartly arranged around the tradition of Goa. I had never seen Allan perform LIVE. Dapper and smartly dressed in a black tuxedo, Allan sang songs from his own pop albums ‘Goenchim Festam,’ ‘Sambhav Mojem Kalliz,’ and ‘Lojeanaka.’ While I admired the compositions and its arrangement, fans screamed for another hit, ‘Mira Mira.’ In an intimate style of showmanship, Allan entertained the crowd ably supported by — and here’s another first for a Konkani concert format — Bollywood show choreographer, Tobby Fernandes and his dance troupe lending a glamorous stage persona with choreographed dance sequences, Brazilian costumes, feathers and chic! Allan shared that his third album `Fall in Love’ is tentative for release soon. A must listen it should be.
Reminiscent of our days in Kuwait, and the family gatherings over music and food, Rita Rose, wife of the late legendary singer Alfred Rose (who technically were my first brush with Konkani pop and melody as a teenager), added a unique flavour to the evening with a popish style, singing songs like ‘Bomboichi Birmoti,’ ‘Gupit Mog’ bringing back the path-breaking work of her late husband.
But it was not over yet. The crowd puller of the teeny-boppers, the lovable, handsome and dashing Olavo Rodrigues (popularly known as O’luv) announced his grand entrance with a poder horn, distributing Goa’s favorite round bread rings ‘Kakonn’ to his surprised audiences. Oluv always packs a punch with his performances. Singing songs from his album ‘Love You, Goa,’ ‘Sandra,’ ’Moga Mandolin,’ ‘Carolina,’ ‘Sogllo Sounsar,’ ‘Cucu Rucu Cu,’ ‘Ami Goenkar,’ ‘Kor Cantar,’ he had his lovelies jiving, singing and eating out of his hands to his popular love songs. What a fantastic, composite entertainer. Must mention here that the Kakonn is a fast disappearing Goan bread staple enjoyed over hot milk tea, ever since slice bread took over our lives.
Herman Gomes captures an onstage selfie moment. DJ Leah (right)
Through the three odd hours of entertainment, I met so many Goans who I never knew before, who surprised and complimented me with their knowledge of my own work, bonding over politics, issues, writing, music and whiskey. It seems I do them proud. I’m honoured and grateful. Thank you David, Lancelot, Wency, Sebastian for the camaraderie and here’s looking forward to rock Mumbai with us Goan power-houses.
The cherry on my cake, however, was meeting Lorna on stage, post concert, who I was meeting after a long time since our very first interview in Goa way back in 1997-98. Breaking out from her long hibernation post her sabbatical, and due to perform her very first concert in Goa then, Lorna had said No to other journalists, wishing instead to speak to me first. That interview meeting was at Hotel Mandovi. We had spoken for long and Lorna had shared many experiences in confidence. Her affirmation to open her heart and speak to me, had been an honour. Many details had gone into print, some not.
Despite the long years of our re-acquaintance, Lorna not only recognised me, but praised and complimented my work, chatting excitedly, even as fans mobbed screaming to speak with her. Me and the Times Now crew headed by fellow Goan, Herman Gomes, ended being her human chain escorting the diva to the green room, while she told me, `Keep doing well, God bless you.” This coming from a woman I compare nothing to. Truly humbling…
Post the event and having recovered from the euphoria, Lorna later shared that despite her many performances in Goa, Mumbai and around the world, she had never seen nor experienced the love, energy and happiness she felt coming to her from the crowd gathered at Dublin Square. “I performed one of my best performances ever that night, because the love and energy I felt from the audience filled me up. I let go of myself. I will remember this concert for a long time to come,” she confided. This power and energy was felt by all present there during the evening. It was magic.
January 14th goes into my diary as special. It was a long night, a well spent enriching evening, fueling my soul to continue be the voice of our community. Here’s looking forward to more, many more enriching experiences in Mumbai and Goans worldover. Stay together, no matter what the times or challenges.
UPDATE: The G.O.A. will present their annual ‘Goan Carnival- CARNIFEST 2017’ on Sunday, 26th February 2017 in Kurla. Contact : 9967694848.
Photographs by Sherwin Crasto/SOLARIS IMAGES
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