A Prayer in his Songs Featured

Meenakshi Kumar 18 Feb 2015

Sushan James Basnet, a Gospel musician from Nagaland, became the first Indian to win the prestigious International Music and Entertainment Association (IMEA) Award 2014 for his ‘Brand New Day’. The win was a surprise not just for Basnet but for the crowd at the ceremony who knew little about Gospel music from India, and hardly anything about the Northeast. That’s why Basnet has decided to educate people about this genre of music as well as the Northeast. Basnet took refuge in music early on in life. It was actually his circumstance in life that led him to Gospel music. He lost his parents as an infant and was brought up by his grandparents. This loss at an early age led him to turn to music and serve God. He started writing songs at the age of 14, and now dreams of his creations being sung in churches around the world. He speaks to NE Travel and Life about the award and being a Gospel musician.

When and how did you get into Gospel music?

I was very passionate about Gospel music from an early age, and as I received Jesus as my personal Lord and saviour, I started helping our local church by leading Praise and Worship. At the same time, I also started to write songs and compose music.

Was it a conscious decision to become a musician?

Yes, definitely. I felt inside of me that this is what I wanted to spend my life doing.

How does it feel to be the only musician from India to win the prestigious IMEA award? What was it like being there for the ceremony?

I felt very proud representing my country at an international platform and provide a glimpse into our rich culture. The win was not just for me but for my country too.

For me, the whole experience was new. It was the first time that I walked on the red carpet, was interviewed, and won the IMEA award. The performances were amazing and it was such a humbling experience to stand among such talented and accomplished artists from all over the world.

Was the western world surprised by a Christian music artist from India?

Yes, absolutely! In fact, they were so surprised and happy that they wanted to visit India, especially the Northeast.

What inspired you to write ‘Brand New Day’? Tell us a little about the song and how you developed it?

One day when I was praying for inspiration for the title of my album, an elderly lady in my church prophesised. She said:  “God told me to tell you that He will give you songs in the night and these will go international”. So one night, at about 2 a.m., as I was praying and seeking His face, suddenly I felt like I was wearing big 3D glasses and words started rolling in front of my eyes. I thought I was dreaming but I realised that I was in my senses. That’s when I remembered the lady’s prophecy. So, I started writing down the lyrics and that’s how ‘Brand New Day’ was born.

Have you had the opportunity to perform elsewhere in India? If so, what has the response been?

Yes. Every time we have had an opportunity to perform, people really liked the music and we received good response from them.

Don’t you think that your genre of music would have a limited reach in India?

Yes, of course. Being a Gospel artist is a bit challenging in our country but my ultimate goal is to be a blessing to as many people as possible through my songs. So, it’s not really a big problem as long as I can be a blessing.

Do you see yourself moving to other genres in the future so as to reach out to a wider audience?

No, I don’t think so, my focus is always my God, and I don’t think I will ever compromise with that.

What is the perception of Northeastern people outside the region and internationally?

Most of the people from other countries (many Indians too) don’t know much about Northeast India so much so that they don’t believe that we are Indians.

What is the kind of music you listen to? Who are your favourite musicians?

I love listening to Gospel music. My favorite musicians are Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman and Phil Wickham.

What are your views on the music scene in the Northeast?

The people of Northeast are big time into music. Not only do they listen to all kinds of music but also play different types of instruments. I would say music runs in our blood.

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