Lesle Lewis made a decision in April this year to perform free for a year. Yes, free. You can invite him to come and perform for your sangeet, wedding, a corporate show, or a birthday party — he’s up for anything. In fact he has already performed in Kasauli, Delhi, and Ahmedabad as part of the project titled #ConnectWithTheFans. We caught up with the artist while he was waiting for a delayed flight.
“Throughout last year and the beginning of this year, many people would ask me where they could catch my show. But I was performing for private corporate events where they could catch me perform only if they were invited to the event or were employees of the company that organised the show. Otherwise, if they want to call me for a show, they can’t afford it, I’m too expensive. So I thought why not perform for my fans for free for a year,” says Lesle, who believes that his fans made him the star he is today and wishes to show them his appreciation through this project.
If you want to invite him to perform, you can get in touch with the artist through his Facebook page or his website www.leslelewis.com
“I’m the same musician I was 40 years ago. But I have been made a star by my fans. To be a musician you don’t need fans, but to be a star you do. I want to go everywhere and meet my fans, see their faces and know them like they know me,” says Lesle.
Citing a recent experience in Ahmedabad, he says, “During my performance at a sangeet, I stopped singing and just stood there looking at the audience. I wanted to see their faces, how they are reacting to my music in real life. I snapped out of it when they started requesting for the next song.”
But even though he refuses fees, there are some ground rules to this deal. If you want Lesle to perform for you, you need to pay for his travel, stay and other basic expenses. “I travel with my band, it’s an entire show that we put up. The band even changes costume three times during the show. It’s ‘the works’ included,” says he.
The artist wants to celebrate the singer that he is. He says that he’s been making music for people who have gone ahead and made a career as a singer, he’s part of the Colonial Cousins, he’s done Coke Studio, has been recognised as an artist and musician, but not as a singer till now. “I’ve never done music for Lesle Lewis. I did Tanha Sa Hoon, but that was just for myself, not to market it as a song or anything. I haven’t stepped out as an artist all by myself before, and I’m doing just that right now,” says Lesle.
He is also engaged in a project where he is collaborating with folk artists from across India to bring out something new-yet-familiar for his audiences. “What did I do with Colonial Cousins? I took Indian classical music and gave it a global platform. I’m doing the same with folk music now — preparing it to be introduced to a new generation of listeners and re-introducing it to older listeners who have forgotten these folk songs. When the younger generation listens to a folk song, they think it is old, outdated, not something they want to listen to. I put the funky element in it but made sure that none of the essence of the folk song was lost. They are traditional folk singers, so you can hear the colour of folk in their voice,” says Lesle, who has already recorded a few songs in Delhi, Ranchi and Jaipur.