Singing for God’s
Iris C F Gomes
She arrived a little late, apologising at every opportunity. Cielda Pereira at my first meeting with her was far from my expectations of a famous singer; a demure, modest and down to earth person, so simple in her approach to life. One would have expected a few airs thrown about following the stupendous success of the Konkani film Nachom-ia Kumpasar, but there was to be none of that.
Cielda’s earliest memory of singing is at the age of three in school, rendering My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean. From then on she always found herself participating in some sort of singing activity or the other be it the mando, patriotic songs, group or solo singing. A student of Chowgule College, she competed in Voice of Chowgule’s without success at her first attempt. However, her participation in the next three years saw her take the title every single time.
‘Everybody knows me for Nachom-ia Kumpasar but I had already participated in Kingfisher Voice of Goa (2013) before that,’ says the second runner-up of the competition. Nachom-ia Kumpasar happened more by accident when she accompanied an actor friend to the auditions in 2012. The auditioning for singers was going on at the same time and so Cielda joined in and was selected, much to her glee. The final recording for the songs was done in Mumbai. While the release of the movie in December 2014 saw her shoot to fame like a star, she had already earned accolades, winning Herald’s Goencho Avaz earlier in the same year.
Although she grew up listening to Lorna, Cielda candidly confesses she has other favourites besides the famous singer. She expresses her misgivings about the comparison made between her voice and Lorna Cordeira’s. She says, ‘Because it’s supposed to be Lorna singing in the film, people automatically hear my voice and say it is Lorna’s voice or that I sound exactly like her. But it is my own voice,’ she continues, asserting her singularity, ‘People who have heard me before recognise it as my voice.’
Cielda is all praise for Ronnie Monserrate who, having worked with Chris Perry, understood the musical genius of the man perfectly and maintained that 60s ambience of the music by having the songs recorded in mono.
‘The experience was good,’ says Cielda, ‘I got to work with famous people like Jackson Pereira, Ronnie Monserrate and Bardroy Barretto. Especially when it came to expressing feelings through my singing, Bardroy helped a lot.’ Work days are longer in Mumbai. It is a culture of hard work unlike the much slower pace in Goa. ‘They have tea at any time of the day,’ she giggles, ‘It was nice working with them.’
Cielda met with Palomi Ghosh and found her to be similar in demeanour to herself: humble and friendly. This meeting was a crucial one to establish a bond of understanding between actor and songstress so that the two could work in synchronisation; Palomi with the appropriate acting and Cielda with the right expressions emanating through her voice. Palomi has lent her voice to three of the movie’s songs. Cielda believes this was done to let the actor, who is blessed with an excellent voice, showcase her talent.
Soon after the movie’s release there was a flurry of live musical shows she performed at where the audience clamoured for songs from Nachom-ia Kumpasar. Now she has become more selective and performs other songs as well, allowing for a couple of songs originally sung by Lorna. She says, ‘Giving time to myself and my family is more important, and I want to maintain a particular standard.’
When queried about offers from Bollywood, Cielda expresses her disdain for the film industry in Mumbai, ‘In whatever we do, singing or otherwise, we should convey a message. Pop and rock, music genres youngsters relate to more, are not my forte. We are born with a mission to proclaim the word of God. I don’t think Bollywood and God go together.’
Cielda was once a nominal Catholic whose life was turned around after attending a pro-life seminar by Human Life International. She has integrated every part of her life, professional and personal, with her pro-life stance. This is evident through her dressing style, which is considered conservative by most performing artists, and her close connection with the Church. Along with her mother she sings in the Betalbatim church choir and has collaborated with priests such as Fr Peter Cardoso and Fr Dominic Alvares to produce CDs of religious songs. She carries her cross whenever she sings and asks her pro-life group to pray for her when she performs. It is obvious that her priority in life is to use her gift for a better world when she says, ‘God will ask me what I did for Him. I intend to make God happy in this life.’