Singkhon Pow Kabui is one of the most popular and versatile singers of Cachar. Music for him has always been an important part of his life. His melodious voice had ruled not only Barak Valley but the entire northeast for more than three decades, that is during the 70s, 80s, 90s and in the early 2000s. He has always been drawn to the power of music to connect with people. Despite being a Rongmei Naga, Singkhon Pow Kabui has received much love and support from various people across the valley and this, according to him, was possible only through music. Further, being a singer Singkhon Pow Kabui’s life has been like a rollercoaster ride at times, with many highs and lows that come with unexpected twists and turns, resulting in many thrilling and rewarding experiences.
The Cachar Chronicles reached out to Singkhon Pow Kabui to know about his journey as a singer. Here are some excerpts from our conversation with him:-
What inspired you to start singing?
Music according to me is like a medicine not only for me but i would say for the entire human race. The way medicine has helped countless people to prevent and cure various illnesses, music on the other hand has shown positive impact especially to reduce stress and it can be used as a form of self expression in order to connect with people. Therefore, my respect for music and its importance in the life of people inspired me to start singing.
When and where did you perform on the stage for the first time ?
It was in the year 1973 that I had performed for the first time in Silchar near Sadar Thana. Recalling back I would say it was really an exhilarating experience in my life that I shall never forget.
Among all the shows that you had performed, what has been your favourite?
Among all the shows that I had performed, I would say that my favourite place would be Rangirkhari and Silchar’s Subash Nagar. Till date I remember how excited and supportive the locals were with regards to my performance. Hundreds of people would gather to see me perform live and that would really bring me tears of joy.
What was your reaction when you got to know that people would gather in large to see you perform on the stage?
This is something that I really want to talk about. I am a Rongmei Naga but as a singer I believe that it is important to respect all cultures and communities. Also, as a performer you get a platform to share your music with diverse audiences and I think that it is essential to honour and celebrate the cultural diversities surrounding us. In my first performance I gave a tribute to Rabindranath Tagore by singing a Rabindra Sangeet and for this I got huge applause from the audiences and I believe that this conduct of mine had also helped gather more audiences. Apart, from this there was a newspaper that reported saying “Singkhon Pow Kabui being a non-bengali sang fluently in Bengali giving tribute to Rabindranath Tagore” at that point of time I felt inclusiveness rather than being alienated. Later, people would gather in a huge crowd to see me perform especially in those functions after Durga Puja. Seeing and knowing that people were really enthusiastic to see me perform would give me so much joy and encouragement to perform more efficiently.
Apart from Cachar, did you perform in any other places?
Yes, not only Cachar but I had performed in Karimganj and Hailakandi as well. Apart from that I also got the wonderful opportunity to travel and perform in places like Margherita in Assam, Tripura and Mizoram. But to be honest, the love and support that I got from my place that is Silchar is incomparable to any places that I had visited.
Apart from being a singer, do you have any other job?
After gaining massive popularity as a singer, it was in the year 1982 that I was invited by ONGC Cachar to perform in their Silver Jubilee. Further, I was very much fortunate enough that as a token of love ONGC Cachar gave me the opportunity to take up a job as a time keeper. There has been a lot of ups and downs too but I would say I worked hard in that field as well. Later , in the year 2017 I retired as a Senior Transport Officer in ONGC Cachar.
How would you compare singing and working? What gave you more satisfaction and bliss?
Apart from being a singer I am also a father and having able to provide two meals a day, education and safety to my family I would say that my Job in ONGC gave me that security. But since you asked what gave me more satisfaction and bliss, I would unhesitatingly say that singing gave me joy and the highest peak of satisfaction. Till date I still practice and sing at home. I would also say that music is the most crucial property in my life.
Among all the songs that you’ve performed so far, what is your favourite song?
I am a huge Kishore Kumar fan. So, all of Kishore Kumar’s songs are my favourite. Even today I still practice and sing Kishore Kumar’s songs. I even get invited till date to perform in some functions and unhesitatingly I would perform one or the other Kishore Kumar’s songs.
If you ever get a chance to perform with any singer, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
It would obviously be Kishore Kumar but apart from that in my journey as a singer I had performed duet with Singlu Rongmei and Sujit Begi. With Singlu Rongmei I could collaborate so well with songs performed by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar. Further, with my friend Sujit Begi I once performed a song of Kishore Kumar and Mohammad Rafi and it went on to become one of my favourite collaborations. I wish if given a chance I would be able to perform duet with them again but as of now I can only recall the past and be grateful about it because those were the beautiful part of my life.
Did you receive any award or recognition for being a singer?
Yes, I had received many awards like Certificate of appreciation from the members of Symphony Musical Karaoke Group of Silchar, certificate on lifetime outstanding contribution to music on World Music Day by Chondonid (Social and Cultural Organisation), Honour of Excellence for lifetime outstanding contributions in the field of music in Barak Valley by CNN24 and many more.
Is there any chance if we could see you perform live again ?
Possibly yes, but I perform rarely these days. However, despite being in my early 70s now, I would not say that I won’t be able to sing anymore. I do practice and sing daily at home till date and if I get invited to perform in an important event I do not deny. And maybe in the near future after a month or so you would see me on a digital platform like YouTube.