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World On Your Street: The Global Music Challenge
Rumena Mohima Begum
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Describe the atmosphere and live music at a local pub, restaurant, festival, church or temple, club night.... inspire other people to check it out!

Musician: Rumena Mohima Begum

Location: Newport / South Wales

Instruments: voice / harmonium

Music: Bangladeshi

Listen  Listen (3.00) to "Mone Agon Jole", performed by Rumena and her family group, Dotara Shilpi Gusti

Listen  Listen (1.20) to Rumena talk about her music.

'Being involved in our cultural music makes me feel proud of myself.'

How I came to this music:

In some Bangladeshi families music is frowned upon. My Dad was the first in our family to play. He came over to the UK in 1963 when he was just 15. He didn't bring much apart from his love of Bengali music. I'm 18 now and I've been listening to him play and sing traditional Bangladeshi songs for as long as I can remember so it's probably no surprise that I love it too.

Rumena Mohima Begum and her band Our group is called Dotara Shilpi Gusty. The Dotara is the national instrument of Bangladesh and shilpi gusty translates as "artist group". My father set up it up with my uncles. Now my cousins and my brothers, sisters and I play. I like Western music but when I was young it was mostly traditional music I heard and sang I debuted with the group when I was 7 at the Newport Civic Centre in front of 200 people. I was really nervous. Since then I have become the main vocalist. I also play the harmonium. It works like an accordion but is larger and sits on the floor.

I sing in Bengali, Hindi and in Urdu but because I've lived in the UK since I was 3 months old my pronunciation isn't always correct. I'm having singing lessons in Cardiff with my classical teacher, Anuradha Roma Choudhury, so that I can improve. My songs talk about love and family, issues that audiences from all cultures relate to. The melodies always provoke emotion.

Where I play:

I'm busy studying I.T. at Sixth Form College but I like to keep my week-ends free to play. On Sundays my uncles and cousins come round to practice. The music sounds just as good and means as much to me when we play it in the living room as it does when we're playing in front of hundreds of people.

Rumena Mohima Begum Every year there's a Maindee festival in Newport. I like singing there. I've even got my own following of about 300 people. Although the audience is primarily Bangladeshi, many come from local areas who enjoy it despite the language barrier.

When we perform at festivals we play traditional Bengali Folk music. It's my favourite genre. It's got energy and I allow the music to take control of my movements. I sang at a family wedding recently where we played more classical songs written by famous Bangladeshi poets like Tagore and Nazrul. Sometimes when I visit members of my family or when my friends come to my house, they'll ask me to sing for them. Whether I'm performing in front of just two people or a crowd of two hundred, I love it.

A favourite song:

It's not difficult for me to choose. "Mone Agon Jole" was sung originally by Runa Laila, one of my favourite Bangladeshi singers. It's different to most of the songs that we play in the group. It's more modern than traditional Folk and has more energy than the classical songs. I remember listening to it when I was little and I love to sing it now for its melody and meaning.

Click here for Hande Domac's storyClick here for Mosi Conde's storyClick here for Rachel McLeod's story

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