An Inspirational Artiste: Lucy Rahman

Background & Career History

Mrs Lucy Rahman, born into a musical family in Dhaka, Bangladesh, began her Indian Classical and Semi-Classical vocal training at the age of six. Mrs Rahman’s father, Lutfor Rahman, was himself a classical vocalist and composer who encouraged Mrs Rahman to follow in his footsteps. Mrs Rahman enrolled at the Nazrul Academy in Bangladesh where she studied for 6 years and gained a diploma.

Mrs Rahman moved to the UK in 1983, where she soon developed a reputation for being an accomplished artist and vocalist. She is respected by both her peers and the public, not only for her voice but for the emotional depth with which she performs. Since 1998, she has been one of the lead singers in the mainstream Jazz music group, Grand Union Orchestra and continues to perform as the solo vocalist, in Amina Khayyam’s adaptation of Yerma. Mrs. Rahman currently resides in the UK with her family, and continues to perform as well as teach her students.

A Therapeutic Approach to Music

Mrs Rahman is undoubtedly a talented vocalist. Her voice has been developed and refined over the years, and now more enjoyable than ever to listen to. However, Mrs Rahman has an interesting approach to her music. She not only enjoys singing and listening to good performances, she has an appreciation for the therapeutic benefits of singing and engaging in meditative-like practice of singing.

Indian Raga & Emotional Experiences

There is a great deal of evidence demonstrating the therapeutic benefits of singing. Mrs Rahman is particularly interested in Indian Raga and the subjective experiences which accompany singing specific ragas.

The first time I sat with her as she sang Rag Bhairav more than two years ago during one of our lessons, I found myself feeling both tearful and peaceful simultaneously. There was a sadness in her voice and a real sense of her being exported elsewhere emotionally as she sang with only myself as her audience. Her voice communicated the richness of the raga as well as reflected a sombre and almost grief-like state.

When she asked me to visualise an image when considering this raga, I could only imagine a graveyard with a ghostly young woman in white behind a tombstone. Although this rag is considered by many to be majestically peaceful, to me, the image of the sombre graveyard remains as well as the sense of loss, mourning and melancholy. Perhaps it is as much as the listener as it is the artist who creates the subjective emotional experience of any given rag at a given moment.

Mrs Rahman’s Performances

Unfortunately, there are few recordings of Mrs Rahman’s performances. Although she has and continues to perform for large audiences internationally, she experiences her music as almost sacred and wishes to preserve the richness particularly of Nazrul songs. She performs with all her heart, putting in full effort, energy and emotion in each song. Her desire for perfection is common amongst true artists, who no matter how well respected or appreciated, continue to attempt perfection in their art.

My regret is that I am unable to share any recordings which really capture Mrs Rahman’s emotional connection with her music.  However, the following available videos give us examples of her voice in a theatrical production as well as singing a conventional Nazrul song. I hope you enjoy these videos and are encouraged to listen to one of her live performances in the future.

Lucy Rahman as Vocalist in Amina Khayyam’s Yerma
Lucy Rahman on Channel S performing a Nazrul Geeti