“To everything, there is a season and a time for every purpose”
– Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
...And that’s the life of a musician.
I am Kenneth Gerald, keyboardist of Masala Coffee and here is a glimpse of my life. My journey started from quite a young age. I was 5 when I started playing the instruments. Even before I knew about instruments I used to play on the pillows and then finally one fine day I received a toy keyboard and it’s been 15 years since then. My initial days were spent playing the keyboard in the church. This not only gave me the exposure I needed but also challenged me to play a wide variety of music and expanded my musical knowledge after which I played with the band Clown With A Frown and moved on to freelancing. It’s during this period of time that I was introduced to Masala Coffee and from there I guess the rest is history.
There were moments when I really wanted to give up, but through it all my parents and the God who I serve have been guiding and pushing me; giving me the strength I require. One of the constant things which have ensured I move on through the storms is nothing but a verse from the bible which states, “If you even have as much faith as a mustard seed, that’s more than sufficient for God to work his miracles in your life.” My belief in this helped me change the hurdles in my life into opportunities. In fact, there was a period when I completely stopped playing the keyboard for a couple of years due to the rejection I faced by society. Those days I would completely immerse myself in music and drown away the negative thoughts. It probably should be something I refer to as ‘the worst days of my life’, but now looking back, these incidents and the lows I hit have moulded me into a person who fine tunes his skills as an artist and an individual.
I never thought I would take music as my full-time profession. It’s a great feeling seeing all the hard work that you’ve put in as borne fruits. It feels great to enthral people with good music. The person I look up to for inspiration is Dr. John Prem Kumar, a guitarist and a legend who runs a music school that I am a part of. In a way, this serves as my backup option in case things go south. I really love playing for the black gospel church; the vibe and the soulfulness is something indescribable. My favourite organ is the Hammond B3 and it’s only found in these churches that know exactly how to utilise the organ in order to give you the complete musical package. My dream project would be` to see my own band ‘Minute to soul’ which produces jazz and blues kick off and reach heights.
One of my favourite places to visit is Brooklyn, New York. The reason being, artists over there really encourage you. If you aren’t up to the mark, they invest their time and train you and if you are better than them, they encourage you to be even better than themselves. I believe this is something all of us need to adopt in our country as well. It’s vital that every musician encourages the other instead of dispiriting them.
The reality today is harsh. I have many friends who have quit their jobs as musicians to take up something that is considered being the 'stable and secure' 9AM-5PM job. In today’s society, I don’t think there is anybody out there who comes to support the local bands and the not-so established musicians. I think it’s more of the reach even the band gives. Not many bands work to give the required reach. Many of these bands have been backing themselves out because they may not be in the scene. A majority of them tend to pull themselves back just for the sake of doing it and do it only when they get the show.
Another thing which bands and musicians need to focus on is promoting themselves. If you want your reach far and wide as an artist it is essential to get yourself promoted and unquestionably your skill and playing come first. If you can present your audience with satisfactory music, then they would definitely love to come and watch you perform.
When our lives present us with thunderstorms and hurricanes, instead of focusing on the negatives, always stay positive and blessed; keep yourself so busy and involved in your art and push yourself to the limits. After all, in the end when you look back, it’s these journeys through the snow and storm that make you strong and help you be the best version of yourself.
So, to everyone out there...NEVER EVER GIVE UP! Look for your treasure and keep digging till you find it. The process would be tiresome and exhausting but nothing can replace the joy of finding it.
Written by Divya Maria Sunil