Delhi-based ensemble Sonam Kalra and The Sufi Gospel Project completed their 40-minute set to a standing ovation on Monday evening.
Lead singer Sonam Kalra was accompanied by Ahsan Ali on sarangi, Rajesh Prasanna on flute, Tarit Pal on percussion, Amaan Ali on the tabla and Anil Chawla on keyboards.
The event was organised as part of the LIC Music Festival co-powered by Fox Life, and hosted by Fever 104 FM RJ Karan Singh.
“I’ve studied Hindustani music, but my first concert was jazz and gospel. In 2011, I was invited to perform on the centenary of Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan [at Delhi’s Inayat Khan Dargah], to sing gospel music! I thought it was pretty cool for a Sikh girl to sing gospel in a seemingly Islamic space,” said Kalra, discussing the genesis of the band six years ago.
Their music remains a mélange of gospel, bhakti and sufi sounds, with Kalra singing hymns like Amazing Grace and Kabir dohas to the accompaniment of traditional Indian musical instruments.
For HTKGAF, Kalra and the band performed the Persian song Man Manam, which she had also sung on the third season of MTV Coke Studio; Hallelujah, in tribute to Leonard Cohen; and Bulle Shah’s ‘Alfat in bin un bin’.
“I wish it could’ve gone on for longer. The forty minutes felt too brief,” said college student Shantanu Atrey, 19.
“I’d attended their concerts at the India Habitat Centre and at TEDx Tughlaq Road a few years ago and loved her rendition of Amazing Grace,” added 48-year-old Delhi homemaker Anita Sethi, in Mumbai to meet family. “The kind of music they make reminds you that religion has no God, and God has no religion.”