survivor girl ukulele band project 2016 — back to kolkata!!! is well underway!!
but before i get to 2016, please give a listen to some recordings from sgub 2015! sgub gave eight performances in kolkata!!! this was a huge achievement for everyone! for me, for sanlaap india’s shelter home staff — who partnered so beautifully with sgub every step of the way, for the girls, who practiced, and prepared, and performed in front of enthusiastic audiences, and for the many around the world who support survivor girl ukulele band!!
this first recording is of twenty-two girls on stage at the american center in kolkata. my friend julie schofield, a fulbright-nehru student researcher, invited sgub to perform at her event, “creating possibilities: empowering through the arts.” the sgub girls delivered a program of eleven songs!! they were the hit of the evening, and yep!! they felt empowered through the arts!!
“what was the best part of the program,” i asked the girls the day after.
“survivor girl ukulele band song!” saheli* said.
“because we were all together!!”
so give a listen to twenty-two girls at the american center in kolkata singing the “survivor girl ukulele band” song, written by ed tree.
one of the first songs the girls learn to play on the ukulele is “twinkle twinkle little star.” they already know the words and the melody, so it’s a great way to show them how to find the notes and listen as they play.
the girls play “twinkle twinkle little star” so many times, i thought it would be fun to change it up and bring it into a minor key. sanya* was the first survivor girl to make the song her own. this performance was for indrani sinha, founder of sanlaap, who stopped by in early july 2015 to hear the girls play and to invite me and survivor girl ukulele band project to return to sanlaap in 2016.
one of the girls who was in charge of the equipment and tuning is bhoomika*. she has a great talent for singing, and is a natural on the ukulele. here is her rendition of a famous bollywood song, “jeena, jeena” — which means, “how to live, live.”
this next photo was taken at a performance on 9 june, 2015 at the west bengal state child protection day.
survivor girl ukulele band was added at the very end of a three hour program. many in the audience had gone by the time the girls performed. but what this photo doesn’t show is that the balcony was packed. and as the girls took their bows, they got a standing ovation from the entire balcony!!! wow!!
by the time i was about ready to leave india and head back to the usa, survivor girl ukulele band had performed four times. the girls were having such a great time with rehearsals, getting all dressed up for the show.
neela* said, “this is not even my country. and yet here i am, performing on a stage!”
i asked rajni* how survivor girl ukulele band had impacted her life.
and this is what she said:
“i’m not alone any more. i’m part of a band.”
thank you thank you thank you everyone who supports sgub. i hope you feel great about what sgub is doing in the lives of these survivor girls. you are an important part of the band!
*names are changed
shortly before i left india for the usa, sanlaap celebrated its 30 year anniversary!!
priyanka handed me her ipad, and i snapped this shot of the staff at sanlaap’s 30th anniversary party.
a few short weeks after this party, we lost our dear indrani sinha, founder of sanlaap. she died of a heart attack in bangalore.
indrani was a major force in the world-wide fight against human trafficking, and the loving and generous and wise guiding light to all of us at sanlaap.
we miss her every day.
in memoriam. indrani sinha, 15 march 1950 – 22 august 2015.