Thursday, 18 April, 2024

Celebrating Women’s Day with Jerusha Rai


By Mannu Shahi

Jerusha Rai is a singer, songwriter, music producer and visual designer actively exploring different realms of multimedia, music, arts and socio-cultural movement.
Originally from Khotang, Jerusha was raised in Kathmandu and in 2010 moved to the UK to continue her higher studies. After completing her post-graduation degree from Middlesex University in Sociology, she relocated to the US in 2015 and has been living there. Jerusha was actively pursuing her music interest from school days with her mom enrolling her to music classes. Gradually curating friends, she created her first ever all-girl band which participated in the popular ICMC band competition.

However, things started to align together as she moved to the UK, where friend and musician Shreya Rai invited her to jam with the local musical group formed by the Nepali diaspora community. There she got the opportunity to refine her skills and collaborate with some promising talents of contemporary Nepali music.

She eventually released an underground EP “We All Make Mistapes” and continued to publish cover songs as well as her originals through her SoundCloud and YouTube handles. This was followed by the release of her very popular music video for the single ‘Oblivion’, which garnered more admirers.

After steadily publishing content for over half a decade, she released her banger debut album “A Dark Place To Think” in 2016. A total game changer for many aspiring musicians following her work, across gender, the album with seven mesmerizing tracks took her audience in this intimate journey of happiness, suffering, feelings of displacement, confusion, isolation and melancholy to a sonic sphere very exclusive to just the creator.

The most brilliant thing in the debut album was her input in every single element of the project: from the music creation, lyrics writing, composition, arrangement, recording, audio production, creating the album art and much more. The album was a collection of sounds exploding from a girl’s bedroom dealing with significant life concerns in the most sensitive, vulnerable and honest medium of expression possible. 

Her second album “Sunsaan”, comprising 9 tracks, was released in 2019. It introduced us audiences with the songstresses’ Nepali poems, which manifested a very uniquely satisfying experience to the listeners.
As arguably the very first time, one can aurally acknowledge the lower range of female singing in such a comprehensive context in a Nepali language setting.

Jerusha in her analysation in this state of Nepali music claims that, “mostly through history men have undertaken the compositional duties and thus adjust the pitch to their comfort and never consider women’s lower range, this could be the reason for the classic Nepali songs to always sound very difficult and pitchy to emulate.” 
An utterly different dimension to the same vision, only fortifying the notion that newer explorations are only possible by building a more exclusive music community.

Furthermore, “Sunsaan” with her most celebrated hits like ‘Barud’ delves into the Maoist-led insurgency and its consequence on the lives of people; ‘Aba’ penned by photo journalist Bikkil Sthapit revolves around the families who lost their loved ones during the feud; the title track ‘Sunsaan I’ sheds light on mental illness and addiction; and other tracks deal with conflicted philosophies of a seeker in this generation. 

Rai, who is heavily inspired by her indigenous Kiranti roots, celebrates the relationship with her ancestors through her music. She even visualizes the process of creating or practicing music as a medium of healing herself and sharing this sacred energy with the world.
Her music is reflective of her customs and traditions. From her debut album to her recent work and social activism, all seems to be welded together as fragments of the same puzzle. Her latest release, ‘Remember, Return’ is an ode to her roots and ancestors with beautifully woven poetry chanted over the melody of Jiten Rai’s tune ‘Jaajhi Chhaya’. 

And on the occasion of the International Women’s Day this Tuesday on March 8, 2022, the musician is returning back home. Jerusha will be performing live at Base Camp: Outdoor Lifestyle in Jhamsikhel, Lalitpur.

The show will start from 7 pm onwards and will also feature the up and coming Butwal-based singer/songwriter Ankita Pun in the opening act. With Rs. 500 as the entry fee, the event seems a must for any independent Nepali music supporter and enthusiast.