Founded by Shefali Khanna, Dear Sunshine is a non-profit organisation that helps musicians and artisans looking for opportunities to showcase their skills. The campaign was launched to assist artists whose livelihoods had been severely impacted during the pandemic.
“We wanted to ensure that one person can have an impact on another’s life through collaboration and collection, this is the reason we chose the name Dear Sunshine”, says Khanna.
“I enjoy writing poetry. So far we have created five songs, three of which are written by me and Ameen Badshah my lyricist, but the overall process is a collaboration of artistic and soulful minds who come together regardless of their financial or social background. This is the way we assist them”, she adds. Not only music, the space has performed a wide range of art and craft shows.
“I had worked half my life with clothes and fabrics but still didn’t know anything about it,” Shefali, who comes from a fashion design background, tells Patriot.
“Then I decided to study Indian textiles and travelled from village to village – meeting artists and learning about the untold stories behind Indian fabrics. Even though the entire world uses them, there is little recognition for these fabrics. So, at Dear Sunshine, we provide a platform for artisans to showcase their craft and the lineage of the Indian handloom”, she explains.
The unheard journey
“When Covid hit us, a lot of artists were severely impacted. So, I decided to help them in whatever small ways I could, but once the restrictions were lifted, I asked the artists what they wanted now, and one of them said ‘I want to be heard’”, she says as she explains how the idea for the space came into existence.
The reason why Khanna opened the space was to provide a platform to the artists who were often stuck in everyday life of ‘roti, kapda, aur makaan.’ “We are always singing other people’s songs and we have to do that in order to survive because this is what people want”, rues Khanna.
She says that the idea of the space generated in her mind when she questioned simple things like why artists can not have their own voice, their own platform, instead of singing the songs of already established singers.
“Managing all of this on my own was difficult sometimes. Although money was never a major factor, it was the manpower that delayed our process”, she says.
A living space
Asked about the campaign’s overall vision, Khanna says, “I’d like to invite the entire world to see it in an open, interactive setting. It’s not a museum or dead space. It’s a living space. So, the space I want to create is where everyone, regardless of their identity or social background, feels at home.”
The goal is to make it possible for artists to create something. This is all Khanna tries to do: to give them time so they can concentrate on what they do best.
“So I want to be able to build such venues where we can proudly welcome visitors from all over the world and see if we can showcase the best of what we have. For music, our goal is to bring musicians with the forgotten sounds of India”, she says.
The space wishes to revive native music in every state of India with modern undertones. This, according to Khanna, will also help the music to have the depth accompanying the newest technology.
The initiative has been able to assist roughly 165 budding singers across the nation, and intends to continue by giving new artists a suitable platform and space.
Dear Sunshine has created five songs and released them on streaming services like Gaana and Apple Music. The tracks incorporate independent musicians from five different genres.
The five songs are:
Sukoon – A classical Indian song portraying the beauty of traditional native instruments with the classical raag.
Justju – A fusion of Indian and Western classical instruments forming a jugalbandi
Radha-Krishna – A tribute to the divine love of Radha-Krishna.
Sufi Qawali – A song with filmy vibes inspired by various artists in the field of awali.
Khubsurat – A tribute to the veteran ghazal singers of the country.
Khanna goes on to say that the sixth song that Dear Sunshine will be curating is inspired by Rajasthani folk and will be similar to Pasoori but with a Rajasthani twist.
“What these five songs have done is give our independent artists wings. Where they used to earn Rs 1000 for a performance, now they can earn twice as much because their accessibility and reach has increased significantly”, she concludes.