An angelic voice, proclaiming “hosanna in the highest”, wafts through the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa. It’s the power of one, that has been resonating across the globe, ever since the pandemic erupted and Masses in Churches were beamed live and uploaded on youtube. A solo chorister with the keyboard has been mesmerising listeners, even giving them goose bumps with her soul stirring rendition of hymns.
The camera does not pan from the altar, making the solitary reaper only heard, not seen, for those outside Goa, only adding to the mystique! The name ‘Naisa Lotlekar’ was revealed by Father Patricio Fernandes in one of his gracious trademark acknowledgements just before the end of the New Year’s Day Mass. Encomiums have been pouring in from around the world. One of the most endearing messages that Naisa received was that she sets the tone for “thousands to pray” through her “divine voice.”
A prodigy who started playing the keyboard and singing in the Church as a tiny tot, Naisa has been pretty much self taught. In those formative years, it helped to have a mother – Lonna, who had the habit of humming through all her chores and a numero uno fan for a father – Sanjay Lotlekar. Not to forget a musical streak through her grandfather who used to play the violin. The choir has been Naisa’s maiden springboard to recognition. And the stage in school competitions served to hone her skills and gave her confidence a fillip. What catapulted the ‘millenium baby’ to ‘stardom’ as it were, was the ‘Goencho Avaz’ (Voice of Goa) award at seventeen.
Sporadic doses of inspiration have come Naisa’s way. Performing with the ‘Nightingale of Goa’ Lorna was a big learning curve. “Even at 75, she rocks the stage, with an infectious sense of dedication.”
Blessed for giving glory to God, the twenty year old lady with a magical voice, didn’t really have to ask, seek or knock for opportunities. News of her talent spread to the right quarters. Almost miraculously, while performing at the Global Hyssna Cine Awards in Mangaluru, an opening in a Konkani film ‘Benddkar’ directed by Harry Fernandes, fell into her lap. Not for music but to essay the lead role! And just as well, as acting was always an avenue Naisa “wanted to try.” Far from being an ‘off the cuff’ swan song,the movie may pave the way for a calibrated foray into tinsel town.
There has been no dearth of goodwill. Almost like manna from heaven, Ryan Mark descended on the scene as Naisa’s new mentor. “I’m one of the artists under his music label.” Ryan’s “guidance and support” has enabled her to make a professional ‘mark’!
Converting a stumbling block into a stepping stone, the young music maker acknowledges that the “silence of the lockdown” helped her “discover the song writer in me” with “a lot more space to think and pen down my thoughts and express it through music. Since there were no stage shows, I started my own YouTube channel and put up my content out there.” Four music videos – ‘Kaal Kasala’(Marathi Original) ‘You Promised’ with Ryan Mark ( English Original) ‘Burj Khalifa’ (Bollywood Lounge Cover Song) and ‘Christmas is For you and Me’ ( English Original) uploaded so far, have come in for rave reviews.
Is an album of her hymns on the cards? “For me writing is just not about words. It’s more about feelings. Writing hymns is definitely something that comes from your heart, I’ve been brought up singing these hymns and consider my voice as a gift from God. When the time is right, I will surely start penning them down”, reveals the soloist who is open to “collaborating just like I did with Ryan.”
It will not be a toss up between music and acting. While singing will definitely be a “priority”, the urge to dovetail both seems irrepressible. On her bucket list is sharing the stage with the inimitable Shreya Ghoshal and a dream of being directed by the Mozart of Madras A.R.Rahman. Relocating to Mumbai or Chennai to take her career to the next level may be inevitable. “I do have plans of moving out, but only after the completion of my B.A, B.Ed degree course from VPC Goa.”
Meanwhile, as Naisa praises her Saviour all day long; this is her story, this is her song..
(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate practising at the Madras High Court, a Columnist, Author, Public Speaking Mentor & Former Resident Editor of NDTV 24×7)