To ma, with love: Harshit Misra
How bassist and musician Harshit Misra’s tribute to his late mum became a dream collaboration and an awareness campaign
The night before his mother passed away, Delhi-based bassist and musician Harshit Misra was playing a session gig with Shubha Mudgal, whom he considers a guru and mother-figure. A couple of months later, well into the lockdown, he came across a progression he had recorded at some point, jammed to it, added keys and sent it to guitarist Warren Mendosa of Blackstratblues (now based out of New Zealand), with whom he’s performed with over the years. Once Warren sent him the parts, Harshit roped in musician Nikhil Mawkin (before the latter moved to Mexico) for drums. The only thing left – vocals. And he could only think of Shubha Mudgal.
“She never met my mom, but I had told her that night that my mum wasn’t keeping well. Shubhaji was travelling, so she actually bought equipment and recorded the part. She sent me three to four takes. It was a humbling experience!” Harshit recalls. He then sent the track to Chandigarh to Ranveer Sindhu to process, followed by Grammy-award winning John Davis from New York. It released on his mother’s first death anniversary on October 20 last year.
A special tribute
The tribute was born out of the pain of losing his mother, Anita, after five long years of ailment. “My mom was my role model since I was a kid. Boys have a special relationship with their mothers,” says the 30-year-old, recalling how supportive she was when he wanted to do music, while also being stern. She made sure he knew this was the last bit of money they were investing in his music, and he made it work!
She loved his red hair and streaks, too. “She would stare at my hair and smile,” Harshit recalls. He even got his first tattoo on her birthday.
For Anita also released under the trust Harshit and his dad have started in memory of Anita, called The Anita Misra Memorial Trust. They found a directory of useful information in their hands, which they wanted to be put to best use. “Mom’s doctor is now a family friend. I remember the day mum left us and feeling the need to carry on her legacy,” he says, talking about the trust, that besides funds helps with the small things that could save a life: How to get medical equipment in an affordable and quicker way, find the best help for pre and post-op care with neurology or cardiology cases, knowing the right doctor and lawyer – a database they built over five years.
This also marks a change in the dynamics Harshit is used to – an instrumentalist penning down a song, not just his bass parts – after years of playing with the who’s who of the country.
“I felt I could do more. I’m a bass player but also a musician and a student of music, a free-flowing art form where you are always learning,” he says. The lockdown gave him the time he needed to focus on doing something from himself, and he was also inspired by the likes of instrumentalists such as drummer Lindsay D’Mello, who has his own project with which he put out his third album. “My thing isn’t to shine in just playing the bass but to make it more than the groove,” says Harshit, who belongs to a generation when there weren’t too many bassists in the scene. The result? He was playing 18 sessions at a time! “But today, there are new players coming in. It’s a humbling experience for sure,” he says.
He’s glad to have worked on a dream collaboration at the age of 30. Even though For Anita was an unexpected one, “I got calls from people asking how I got Shubhaji and Warren Mendosa. Even if I hadn’t done sessions with them, I would have found a way!” the determined son smiles.
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From HT Brunch, March 7, 2021
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