Music Director Salim Merchant of the Salim-Sulaiman duo is literally on cloud nine after the stupendous success of the Salim Sulaiman Live 2014 concert tour held in November 2014 in North America and Canada. The success of this concert tour is all the more special for the composer duo since it raised a lot of funds for charity. This isn’t all, as they were also white-hatted by the Calgary Mayor to being honored with the Congregational Certificate of Merit from the Governor’s office in New York to even getting a day named after them.
In a freewheeling chat, Salim Merchant talks more about the various merits and recognition that came their way during this tour and also gives us a first-hand account of the fans’ response to them. Excerpts from the interview:
One hears that you raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in this charity tour. That sounds wonderful.
Salim Merchant (SM): (Smiles) Yes, we raised a lot of money in Calgary and Houston amongst other places. In fact in Atlanta, we even donated to the NGOs like Raksha and Vibha who support women and children. We did this because we genuinely believe in giving back to the society. Apart from this we also did a lot of workshops for upcoming musicians and singers in the United States and Canada which was personally quite satisfying as we shared our personal experiences with them especially encouraging them to follow our roots and our own musical traditions despite living in the US, which will make them truly unique since they will have a great mix of Western and Indian music.
Please carry on.
SM: We also collaborated with a lot of local artistes like the Ismail Choir in Vancouver which was a great way of exchanging musical traditions. Though so many Indians living in the US do not really speak Hindi, they can sing Hindi songs beautifully and it was my mission to give a boost to that. It is also a testimony to the fact that music cuts across language and cultural barriers and at the same time is so powerful that it lets you connect to your roots.
How was the contribution from your fellow artistes like Shweta Pandit and Vipul Mehta (Indian Idol Winner 6) who accompanied you on this tour?
SM: They are fabulous and are very good singers. Shweta is very talented and she has worked on quite a few songs for us in Bollywood. Mehta was a huge hit with his Punjabi numbers and the Punjabi community there especially just loved him. Their contribution was quite significant and important and they did their part really well. Also we had a great sense of teamwork throughout the tour, not to mention the euphoria of a sell-out crowd everywhere we went. It was all the more satisfying because the ticket prices were quite high since the proceeds were all going to charity.
So are there plans to go back to North America soon for other future tours and performances?
SM: Of course! Our promoter Moe Jivan has booked us for September 2015! The people want us again. We are already booked for the next year. Despite the fact that a lot of shows happen in the US unlike the earlier days, the response we got was phenomenal. Also we did a lot of exchange programs and we interacted a lot with the youngsters, gave photo-opportunities to them and that I guess touched a chord with the people. It was not like we were forced to do it; in fact we were happy to do it.