Sammi: Negotiating Talents; Nurturing Soul
Club Muzik's ARTISIA - voice of the stars -

Club Muzik *

Sammi singing at Ethical Fashion Event 2015 at BOAT on 5th May 2015
Sammi singing at Ethical Fashion Event 2015 at BOAT on 5th May 2015 :: Pix - Arbind Sorokhaibam

Yumnam Sammi was born into a family who members comprise of music aficionados. From parents to siblings, everyone encouraged her to sing her heart out on occasions like the Yaoshang festival. She has been exposed to all genres of music right from an early age.

Suitably influenced by her mother's dictum - "Talent rides on character...", Sammi bases her talent on the immense experience she has had with her parents who are both musicians and academic of repute. Sammi opines that exposing oneself to different genres gives her not only a passion for music but also helps her in building musical perspective.

She says as a high school kid, she grew up listening to pop, country, rock classics to modern alternative and in fact worshipped Alanis Morissette's bold attitude, lyrics besides admiring her lyrics.

And every night, she used to fall asleep listening to the ethereal sounds of Pink Floyd, David Gilmour's soothing voice and guitar and Joe Satriani and she still does it.

In college years, she began her sojourn with the sounds of blues and rock, immersing into the immortal works of Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith etc. She swam back a little further and discovered Soulful Blues/R&B/Soul/Jazz/Swing music of the 1950s and 1960s.

Power-packed booming vocals of big Black women like Big Mama Thornton, Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Nina Simone completely mesmerized her. Finding inspirations in the works of the soul sisters, she was trapped by the inimitable Janis Joplin and her electrified performance.

"The personality of her gritty high pitched shrilly husky voice is insanely out of this world. I will be God-honest and say that even attempting to sing her songs gives me the heebie-jeebies", she says.

However, she would consider it foolish to give a near perfect rendition of Janis' memorable numbers not because she fears making an attempt but her voice is beyond anyone's reach. "She sings like an angel in pain, like there is no tomorrow. I experience this incredible connection with the words in her songs and her voice so vulnerable that makes the hairs on my neck stand. That's why I love singing her songs", she says. Others she admires vocal strengths of Steve Tyler, Robert Plant, Jack White, Chris Martin, Michael Buble, Adele, Alicia Keys, Amy Winehouse, Duffy, Joss Stone and Beyonce and many more.

Sammi is also a student of BA (Hons) Education, final semester and learning Japanese language. She was taught Hindustani Classical music under the guidance of Sagolsem Krishna and have passed 3rd year (Madhyama) from SSBD Music College, Imphal.

Traversing between Hindustani music and Western forms, she joined the big family of rock music circle through the band Cygnus comprising of Thoi, Vavindra, Bungobi, Bilai and Suren.

She also considers herself lucky to be in the company of Guru Rewben Mashangva (Naga Folk Blues), Ringo Golmei (former Phynyx), Vikram Chongtham (Fubar Ghetto), Chongtham Thoi (Cleave), G. Nandaraj (Pulse Pundit) and few other musical giants of this fraternity.

"Getting a chance to play and perform with this pantheon of great musicians is a huge learning experience for a kid like me who is still growing and absorbing every bit of advice they give. To receive words of encouragement from these folks is priceless. They teach me what it really takes to stay in the game and hold my ground." She now dreams for a day when she would be attired like the jazz greats of the 50s and render covers like "My Funny Valentine" and "Cry Me a River" somewhere in a cool jazz bar in New York.

Though the young blood has been inspired by greats from across the seas and back home, Sammi has miles to travel when it comes to creating her own musical craft. With immense potential and adrenalin, friends, foes and critics hope she emerges even stronger to nurture her dreams sculpting voices and sounds that can be called "Sammi's own".

Time will tell whether or not this young lady would be capable of outshining contemporary singers. It all depends on how she keeps alive the groundswell of her immense talents. How she negotiates the labyrinth of the world of music depends on the will to further nurture talents and finds the soul in the music.

For the time being, she is happy delving into words of one of her favourites - James Brown… "This is a man's world… this is a man's world… but it wouldn't be nothing... nothing. Without a woman or a girl." This song says it all for her and all the girls out there, she says.

* Club Muzik wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
This article was posted on June 25, 2015.

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