In a Bangladesh entertainment industry dominated wholly by gaudy dresses & pseudo-singers, Laila Plamondon comes like a breath of fresh air.
As far as music goes, these days, everybody who is anybody is a singer. The thing is that the way the world is now there are many people of distinction who slip through the cracks and are never heard of, because singing or making art of any form and all those other things which were fairly exclusive in the preceding years are now open to a much wider variety of people. What that means is that a lot of real talent gets flushed down the drain while a lot of the aforementioned pseudo-artists make the cut.
But as far as Laila Plamondon is concerned, she belongs firmly in the first group.
“Singing is big part of my life,” says the vibrant youngster. And it shows too. “I have wanted to sing ever since I can remember and it is something that I love doing very much.”
Her achievements speak for themselves. You don't get to sing at the UN Ball in Sonargaon or the Carnegie Hall in New York if you don't have real talent. As the old cliché goes- her singing has already taken her places- From the West Point Naval Academy in Maryland, to The Hague in Netherlands and even the Big Ben in Calcutta. Her humility is evident as she brushes of such accolades with a quick smile and a touch of almost embarrassed mumbling.
As far as singing is concerned the first thing that one notices about her is the fact that she has excellent technique. In one particular show in Dhaka, she rang off an almost perfect rendition of Whitney Houston's, “I Will Always Love You.” What made the performance even better is the fact that it came about almost spontaneously as an error in program allocation left her with more than her allotted time to fill. Suffice to say she did it very well indeed and kept the audience engrossed with an almost flawless display of balance between pitch and tenor. In musician's parlance, the licks and turns and flows she put on “I Will Always Love You” were extremely well executed.
So at an age such as her's, where does Laila's priorities lie? “Well, I definitely look at singing as a career for myself at some point in time. But for now I am concentrating on my studies as well. I think that it is important to strike a right balance between music and studies.”
And when asked about how supportive her parents are, Laila smiles broadly and sneaks a look at her mother before replying. “My mom is always encouraging me to sing. She even goes up to the point of telling me that singing is more important for me than studies. My dad helps keeps that in line however."
She is an ace student as well as is evident by the fact that she goes to Smith College in Massachusetts. “I am not sure yet what I want to study but I have made up my mind to do my minor in music. As far as my major in concerned I am not really sure yet but in all probability it will be Psychology that I take up.”
While Laila was here for the summer she also did some work with local star Habib and she is hopeful that this kind of things will help set her up for the future. “I hope that it gives me a platform to continue. With the kind of music I like, I think that's key. I started out doing only super pop-dance tunes and that kind of music isn't really all that vocally gratifying. But the music we were working on meant something. At the moment I'll take anything that comes my way as a super opportunity.”
Laila hasn't recorded too many songs as yet but she says she likes the loves the feeling of seeing the vocals and music come together. Stage performances are her specialty though and she says that “Nothing feels as good as a super performance where you connect with the crowd,” although she admits laughing that her love for early bed hours puts that career in a bit of a bother!!
Laila Plamondon is one of the recent breed of youngsters who have set themselves lofty goals on putting themselves and thereby their country on the map. Let us hope that all her dreams and thereby ours are realized.
By Quazi Zulquarnain Islam