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     Volume 6 Issue 48 | December 14, 2007 |

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Waiting for Freedom

Elita Karim

Biran prithibir shob aashar aalo,
Ene diyecho haater muthoy
Dushopner ghor kete geche tomar
Nishorto bhalobasha

- From the title track, Opekhar Por by Laura.

Someone had once said that music is what feelings sound like. Probably that's why musicians and composers hardly ever bother to say anything in words and rather use music. As Abraham Maslow had once said, "A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself."

Fariba Omar, popularly known as Laura recently released her first solo album titled Opekkhar Por, a Bengal Music Company exclusive, launched on November 13 at the Bengal Shilpalaya in Dhanmondi. With a set of 10 numbers, this album reflects on the thoughts, emotions and the experiences that Laura went through while growing up.

Even though this is her first solo release, Laura has been involved with the music scene in Dhaka for a very long time. Thanks to her father Omar Khalid Rumi from the band Bangladesh and her artist mother Rokeya Sultana, Laura grew up with music, colours and art all around her. From the age of 14, Laura has been writing and composing her own music. "My father literally made me go through a rigorous training," says Laura who is turning 23 in a month. "It is because of him that I have the confidence now to write my own lyrics, compose and work on the other technical details required to create a full fledged album."

Not only is she a trained vocalist, but Laura can also play several instruments. As a young teenager, she started off as a drummer for the band Bangladesh. "After a while, the band needed a keyboardist and that's when I started to play the keys instead of the drums," says Laura.

Laura herself has written most of the compositions, along with some of her friends and family members, namely Omar Khalid Rumi (Bangladesh), Rokeya Sultana, Mitul (Radioactive), Andrew Morris (Blue Note), Saber (Vibe), Saad (Prayer Hall), Panni, Zidan, Khoka and the famous Ornob himself. "This album is called Opekhar Por because I have literally waited for about six years for these compositions to come out in the open," says Laura. "I have gone through a series of ups and downs because of a few power-driven personalities in the music scene and could not release my album earlier." Listening to the album, it is clear that some of the compositions actually seem to speak of the different stages of Laura's life. "My album is about the growing up of a teenager into an adult," she says. "It has many unanswered questions which I still have not figured out."

Koshto aashe koshto jaabe, Ey shomoy ki aar phire paabe?
Icche kore shagorer pare, Khuje na peyeo khuje phiri tare.

These lines from her song Icche kore, speak of the young girl in her who simply "wants to fly away from all the obstacles that a girl faces while growing up," says Laura. Laura comment that even amongst the so-called affluent and educated families in our society, girls are restricted from expressing their passion for music, sports or anything else, which would actually lead them to mingle with people outside the vicinity. For young Laura, even though the situations weren't as bad during growing up, she did experience the society's conventional attitude towards women.

Laura's compositions bring out the youth from within. "It is like living the fairy tale dream that youngsters did once upon a time," says Laura. Some of her numbers also speak of young love and romance, for instance Amar mon. Amidst the soothing touches of her keys, Laura speaks of a young girl, who thinks back to the time when she had thought that she was in love. Years later, she has changed and so has he. Yet she wonders if she can try offering her heart to the man of her dreams.

Chakri, yet another self-written number, reflects on the socio-economic features of the society that we live in. As boys and girls go through the usual stages of going to school and university, there comes a point when they are forced to choose between their passion and the demands that a society makes. After a degree, one looks for a suitable job with a decent salary, a life partner and a family, hence going through the cycle of life once again. "Everybody goes through this in Bangladesh," says Laura. "All the young people can relate to this easily. In fact I have to go through it myself at one point," she adds. Besides attending the final year of BBA at North South University, Laura is also working part time at a private company to earn some extra pocket money, like many other students in Dhaka today.

Ma written by her mother Rokeya Sultana is a heart-warming composition, which her mother had written for Laura's maternal grandmother. "I performed this song at my launching," smiles Laura. "It was a very emotional moment. My grandmother died last year and I know how painful it was for my mother to write this song. When she asked me to compose it, I was very nervous and spent a long time working on this particular number."

Laura has brought about a fresh sound and feel with her album Opekkhar Por, thanks to her enthusiasm and passion for life and love for music.


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