In these times of unlimited access to the musical universe, how often do you find anthems of meaningful causes, which you’re drawn to listen to repeatedly? Drawing from my life, I can think of only one such paean that I had learned back when I was in school. It was a song of praise for grandparents and a reminder to care for the elderly. The song stuck with me over the years, like no other anthem.
The feeling is precisely the same about Iltaja, sung by Khatija Rahman and the music produced and conceptualized by Ricky Kej, Grammy winner from Bangalore.
When I first heard Iltaja, more than any other sound aspect, it was Khatija’s distinctly melodious voice that instantly grasped my attention. The song was playing on my tabletop speaker and interestingly, my parents and sibling also stopped by at various points to ask about the singer. I’ve listened to the song over 30-40 times now, across various streaming channels, and know the lyrics by heart. Truly, that’s how much I like it. I did share Iltaja with a bunch of friends and what’s interesting is that while it means different things to different people, there’s a common theme of inspiration.
Stream “Iltaja” Now – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qenvcPcDwS0
Iltaja is a song that highlights the effects of air pollution and calls for immediate action, so our future generations can have the basic human right of clean air to breathe. The lyrics are an urgent musical plea from a child, asking grown-ups to help save planet Earth. The song is from Ricky Kej’s recently released album, “Ek”, which is a collection of songs handpicked from the repertoire of his multi-award-winning songs about the environmental preservation. “Ek” consists of acoustically disparate songs that are immensely delightful to listen to. They all share a common message though – our world can only survive if we all are one.
Quoting Mother Theresa, “Listening is the beginning of prayer,” so what better way than music to reach out to people and spread awareness. Unfortunately, humans have not been very good stewards of the Earth over the years. To protect the environment and preserve the planet for our future generations, we can all take small steps toward cleaner living habits.
The song video also features other performers – flautist Varijashree Venugopal, violinist Manoj George, drummer Arun Kumar, and dancer Aparna Ramakrishnan.
On collaborating with Ricky Kej
When asked about how the collaboration with Ricky Kej came about, Khatija fully credits Nazeef Mohammed, creative producer at BToS for introducing her to Ricky Kej who was looking for a fresh voice. Vanil Veigas has mixed and mastered the audio track.
Constantly creating positive social impact through music
This is surely not the first time that Khatija has worked on a project that’s tied to a cause. She speaks passionately about her motivation to work on women’s empowerment projects. She is highly empathetic and does her best to extend support for small, women-owned businesses. She also serves as the Director at A R Rahman foundation and earnestly explains, “I have always loved helping people. I believe deeply in my heart and soul that women encounter different challenges. I’m still learning about all of the ways in which women are held back from reaching their full potential because of various historical systems of repression. I admire women who build something of their own, so I like to encourage them in whatever ways I can. I am here because someone encouraged me, so I would like to do the same for other women.”
There’s something awe strikingly noble and spiritual about Khatija’s approach towards life, and while she is oblivious, her honesty transpires through her vocals in all her songs.
Ricky Kej’s extraordinary musical contributions toward environmental sustainability
Ricky Kej’s music is a living testimony of his personality. He has won multiple awards and the biggest was the 57th Grammy Award for his album ‘Winds of Samsara’ in the Best New Age album category. Ricky’s career has only been scaling heights – he’s a US Billboard #1 artist, UNESCO- MGIEP Ambassador for Kindness & UNICEF ‘Celebrity Supporter’.
As seen in the video of Iltaja, his studio is an elegant standout because of the numerous plants surrounding him.
Music, nature, and human emotions – a crucially interwoven triangle
There’s plenty of research backing the theory around how music started off as sounds from nature – sounds of birds, animals, flowing water, and sounds of the wind. Humans started imitating these sounds to make it more pleasing to the ear. It is only in the last few centuries that music has become more scholarly with notations and scales.
In fact, Vivaldi was one of the first composers to so thoroughly evoke images of nature and their accompanying emotions with only instruments. Although many composers have written pieces for various seasons, Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (Opus 8, 1725) is a timeless work that evokes the images of each season so powerfully that they also evoke the 45 overwhelming emotions we nostalgically, even melancholically, associate with each season. Undoubtedly, music, nature, and human emotions are deeply interconnected.
Special release coming up towards the end of October
Khatija’s currently working on a particularly unique project which is set to release by end of October. Do follow her and keep an eye out for the very special track.
Follow Khatija Rahman’s music here: Spotify | Apple Music | Gaana| Instagram