On Saturday, July 13, the halls and gardens of the historical Greenwich House Music School came alive with musicians and artists at our ‘Sing for Seema’ event, the first of many celebrations of the SEEMA cause – to reach the limit, the summit, the most possible.
SEEMA collaborated with the Indian Karaoke Singers Group (IKSG) that celebrated their centennial event at the Greenwich House with us. The evening began with singers from IKSG bringing the music hall alive with renditions of popular Bollywood songs – from Lata and Rafi, to Talat and Kishore -- they covered it all.
Raj Suresh founded IKSG in 2006 to bring amateur singers together and train them to go from being “bathroom singers to ballroom singers.” “I used to find songs everywhere and thought, why can’t I start a group and give them the opportunity to express their feelings,” said Suresh. When the group started, very few people knew about karaoke. “Those days there were very few karaoke groups – now they pop up like mushrooms everywhere. People who used to feel bored on the weekends, started singing and enjoying in a beautiful way,” said Suresh. Eventually, many people who got associated with IKSG started their own groups, singing professionally and enjoying their weekends, making the tribe of singers grow. “Getting celebrities is easy but making a normal personal a celebrity is a big gift,” said Suresh.
Oooorja Kumar, the co-founder of the group, was one of those who didn’t sing but grew up listening to music. “I joined IKSG to organize, but Raj kept saying why don’t you sing,” said Kumar. “It is so great that somebody who is a complete non singer can one day get the courage to pick up the mic and sing in front of everybody.”
Among the other singers who sang for Seema were IKSG members Anurag Misra, Dhaval Shrikhande, Kamal Bhardwaj, Ketan Shah, Manjit Guleria, Nitin Kale, Rohit Padleja, Roopali Singh, Sahiba Guleria, Suneeta Bilavar, Malti Patel, Vijaya Praturi, Ankita Srivastava, Riya Dighe, Bharat Patel, Dhanesh Motani, Sividya Srinivasan, Mike Patel, Mr and Mrs Vakharia, Santosh Kotgire, performance artist Kuldeep Singh, and Seema Kumar, the founder of the SEEMA network.
Downstairs, in the lovely outdoor garden, an art exhibit showcased the works of curator Anu Bhat, photographer Archana Kumar, painter and photographer Raj Suresh, artists Vedha Das, Sunjukta Vaidyanathan, Anil Jayachandran, visual and performance artist Kuldeep Singh and Hindi poet Shama Arora. Cocktails, appetizers and a rousing speech by SEEMA founder, Seema Kumar, accompanied this session.
Anu Bhat founded the Rural Painter three years ago with a vision for “art transcending borders”. Three years later, she has made around seven trips to Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Nepal etc. and brings art back from each country. They’re now displaying this art at the co-working spaces in New York that are rising in popularity.
A painting from Chaing Mai, Thailand, called SHANTI, is a portal into another world. “We take our art to charities like Sakhi, Pratham, etc., and donate a part of our proceeding to them, just like today we are donating our proceedings to SEEMA FOR GOOD,” said Bhat.
All the proceedings collected from the Sing for Seema event would go to CorStone -- a global nonprofit that develops and provides personal resilience programs to “improve well-being for youth spread across the world.” In a little over fifty years’ time, CorStone has worked with youth spread across numerous countries, including their very strong operations in India.
Sanjutka Vaidyanathan, a young artist from New Jersey is in Ninth grade and makes resplendent paintings and drawings in pencil, watercolor and acrylic. “I’m inspired by what I see around me -- people, imaginary things, dancers, artists, abstract and landscape. Each of my paintings and drawings represents a part of me and of the world I see,” said the artist who wants to keep selling art until she “grows old.”
Archana Kumar, founder of the ‘Photos for Humanity’ project displayed her images of Indian women. “It’s been lovely and humbling, this venue is gorgeous and I had some amazing conversations with other Indians. I had people responding to my art in ways that I haven’t seen before and that’s been amazing,” she said.
Kuldeep Singh, an award-winning multidisciplinary artist described his works as “a tablescape setting of intimate artworks, comprising of oil in linen canvases, suitable for a close-up gaze, pretty much reminding one of the Indian miniature paintings that demand a closer inspection.”
Founded in 1902 as a settlement house to help New York’s increasing immigrant population adjust to life in a new country, the Greenwich House offers programs in the arts, education and social services that provide thousands of New Yorkers with personal enrichment and cultural experiences. Janet Ross, the CFO of Greenwich House welcomed Sing for Seema guests to the warm venue.
The scrumptious dinner buffet was catered by SAAR, among the newest and most modern of Michelin-star Chef Hemant Mathur’s ventures. Also present was additional creative director of SAAR, Chef Surbhi Sahni. Chef Mathur is famously referred to as the “Yo-Yo Ma of tandoor cooking” and is the first Indian chef in the U.S. to be awarded a Michelin star.
Look out for more such SEEMA events in the future by being part of the SEEMA network.