Singer & Lyricist


Her rise to recognition as a singer-lyricist-composer has been like a Paulo Coelho story. Clad in black, with a guitar and at times a harmonica, she contradicts all stereotypes. For seven years, she desperately tried to release her debut album -- a compilation of songs that chronicled her growth as an individual and an artiste. When that album, titled “Shayan-er Gaan”, was finally released on May 6, 2008, people listened and those who listened closely were in awe.

It was a breakthrough for Shayan. Many would label her music as “Jibonmukhi Gaan” and put her in the same category as Kabir Suman or Mousumi Bhowmik. How does Shayan feel about that?

Not just Suman, She has been profoundly influenced by the songs of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Tracy Chapman (mostly western folk/ folk rock) and Bhupen Hazarika, as she asserts.

She may not possess the kalowati vocalists train a lifetime for, but her genuineness -- at times armed with razor-sharp wit and at others, poignant melancholy -- hits the bull's eye and then some.

Shayan wrote the song “Ekhanei Shukh Chhilo Ekdin”, a profoundly mature act, at the age of 16. At that particular point of her life, marriages and relationships meeting premature ends had an overwhelming impact on her.

The self-trained vocalist-musician recalls coming back home from Toronto in 2001. Her songs were ready and she was eager to record her first album.

In 2007, eight of her songs were recorded. Then one day she was told that the tracks couldn't be located. That was in November 2007. In March 2008, the master record was ready. Meanwhile her friends formed a small music company called 'Gaan Poka Distributions'. Her debut album was released under the banner of Gaan Poka.

There was no marketing involved initially. Someone from Ekushey TV was at the album launch and that resulted in her being invited to the show “Phone O Live”. That show was watched by many and things started happening in her favour.

Shayan's last project, a double-CD album titled “Abar Takiye Dekh”, was launched on December 20, 2009. To give the audience a taste of her unpolished sound, Shayan included two songs in the album that were recorded live.

She shared that she never imagined that her songs would reach certain sections of the audience. One of the most remarkable compliments she received was from the driver of a CNG-run scooter, who said, “Your song about a sparrow (dealing with homelessness) is very real.”

She will start work on her third album soon.

Apart from music, Shayan teaches law at a private academy. She sees both music and practicing law as her professions.

Compiled by Star A&E Correspondent

Elita Karim
Singer & Journalist


During her stay in the Middle East, popular singer and TV show host Elita Karim used to sit with her parents for musical ashor/adda every weekend. Her parents were heavily into Rabindra Sangeet and Elita used to sing for them. Elita, an alumnus of the Department of English Literature, North South University, demonstrated her musical talent throughout her school, college and university years.

“My introduction to the Bangladeshi music industry happened as a guest vocalist with the band Black. My first song with Black was “Mithya”, a duet with John (main vocalist of the band). Later, I formed my own band, Raaga that no longer exists as the band Retake has taken its place,” said Elita.

Elita has performed with both emerging and established singers of the country. She lends her voice to jingles, and anchors TV, radio and outdoor programmes.

“I would like to move towards producing shows -- making documentaries, biographies, musical programmes and generating newer ideas,” said the artiste.

Elita Karim is a dedicated journalist as well. She is the youngest editor at The Daily Star, where she oversees the weekly magazine for students, Star Campus.

“Both as a journalist and as a singer, I feel strongly about copyright and royalty issues. Despite having an opulent cultural heritage and many accomplished artistes, copyright law is not implemented properly in our country. I would like to do a series of research-based works on copyright laws so that the present and the next generation of artistes understand these issues,” asserted Elita.

“The young in our country are very resourceful and diverse. But having no platform, they often cannot voice their opinions,” she regretted.

The artiste added another dimension to her career by acting in a popular TV serial “Mukim Brothers”.

Asked about her experiences in a new medium, Elita said, “Even though I had acted in a single-episode play directed by Kawshik Shankar Das a few years back, I was very nervous while shooting for 'Mukim Brothers'. I think I worked hard for the character. Everyone, including the director Ashfaque Nipun, had helped me a lot.”

Vocalist of the band Retake, Elita Karim regularly performs at concerts and music shows aired live on television channels. She also performs with noted musician Bappa Mazumder and pianist Romel Ali on both stage and television. With Romel Ali, Elita usually covers international hits.

“My solo album is also in the pipeline. As this is going to be my first solo, I'm taking some time working on it. I hope I can have it out by the end of this year,” Elita said.

By Zahangir Alom

Anusheh Anadil
Singer & Cultural Activist

Photo : Arif Hafiz

In spite of her training in north Indian classical music as a child, Anusheh Anadil didn't pursue a career in music until she discovered the Bauls of Bangladesh. Since the band Bangla's emergence in the late 1990s, she has found success, not only as a vocalist, but also for her bold attitude and social awareness that made her into a role model for young Bangladeshis.

The spiritual folk songs of Bengal drew her, and naturally with her love for music, she was soon singing these traditional songs but with a unique style.

She has worked with internationally renowned musicians like Jonas Hellborg (Mahavishnu Orchestra). She was featured in Susheela Raman's “Music for Crocodiles”. Anusheh had recorded a song with the band Indian Ocean, of Delhi, for an Indian film “Bhoomi”, and worked with percussionist Tanmoy Bose on a project called “Baul and Beyond”.

For her contribution to music, she won the Musical Journalists Award (2006). She won Ananya's Sreshtho 10 Nari 2007, for raising her voice against religious intolerance through music. For a composite of her creative achievements in the fields of music and craft, and promoting liberal thinking in Bangladesh, she was selected as one of the two recipients of the first Meeto Memorial Award in 2009.

She was featured in Shadhona's much acclaimed production “Tasher Desh” as a singer. She calls her genre of music “alternative folk”, which gives her a lot of freedom on musical approach; sometimes the compositions are jazzy, sometimes very funky.

A song recorded by her and directed by Tanmoy Bose won the Zee Bangla Gourav Award for 'Best Title Song of a Serial' in 2009.

Through her music, Anusheh passionately fights against bigotry and in October 2008, when a group of fundamentalists attempted to raze a sculpture of Bauls in Dhaka, Anusheh and many young activists started a cultural movement to protest against intolerance and created a pressure group to foster values of secularism and cultural freedom.

Anusheh is inherently creative and runs her own crafts shop called Jatra that sells casual wear and decorative pieces made by local artisans with Bangladeshi material.

Link TV of USA made a documentary on the artiste who also campaigned extensively against drug abuse.

Compiled by Star A&E Correspondent