Why are there so few in the industry and even fewer being recognised? We explore this issue in this weeks blog.
Growing up listening to Bhangra music, there was a clear distinction in the number of male artists compared to females. There seemed to be a lack of female presence in the industry as a whole ranging from vocalists, lyricists, musicians and Dj’s. Whilst the atmosphere and situation is slightly different in India where we had artists such as Surinder Kaur, Parkash Kaur, Amarjot Chamkila, Amar Noorie, to more recently Miss Pooja, Sudesh Kumari, and Kaur B; it’s not had as much of an impact in the UK. We have a few singers, dancers and Djs, however not as many lyricists or music producers.
Some could argue that one of the main issues stems from the lack of support either from the family and friends or from those within the industry itself. Trying to make it in the industry today is quite difficult for any artist due to the cost and time required just to market yourself. There is quite a lot of glitz n glamour within the market, where looks and appearances are ranked sometimes higher than actual talent. This can be a daunting prospect for someone who is just looking to step over the barrier. With expensive videos and big budgeted campaigns across social media along with launch parties, it places a lot of pressure on the external aspects of the business which one can get easily fixated upon.
The way women have been portrayed in music videos could also have been a deterrent for others to enter the industry. The appalling quality of the videos to some songs would give a bad impression to people looking to enter and pursue a career. There seems to be a general consensus; a sort of stigmatism that arises when you talk about the music industry and how tough it can be both as a performer and behind the scenes. The pressures of interview appearances and PR meetings etc. is quite extensive along with tours and general travelling around.
It could also be that working in the bhangra industry is just not as attractive as it used to be. There are a lot of politics going around and dealing with particular people just to get your music out there. Many might not see it being worth the investment of getting training and then learning the craft, getting signed, working on a song, getting the videos produced and finally launching the product.
In todays age, it is nearly impossible to release a song or an album by itself. If a song doesn’t have a video along with it, it will hardly get featured on online websites and TV channels. With the only real marketing opportunity being through radio. Videos alone, are expensive to organise and execute, especially for new artists. Nowadays if an artists is not signed up with a record label, it makes getting noticed that much more difficult. This could be one reason why you see a lack of female artists in the industry as the external dealings and issues can sometimes take just as much time to resolve.
However change was inevitable and we are slowly seeing some of that emerge though all parts within the industry. Record labels, and producers are opening up to more females in the industry and are consciously putting more emphasis on this issue. In recent memory, we have seen the rise in a whole host of talented female individuals; vocalists such as Bambi, Serena, Sazia Judge, Kiran Dhanoa, Ishmeet Narula, Seetal, Harleen Singh, Mahi Dhaliwal, Roma, Anna Heer etc. From abroad we also have Jenny Johal, Kaur B, Rupinder Handa, Diljot, Nisha Bano, Gagan Maan, Jasmine Sandlas and more! You no longer have as many appalling videos today, and the standard of the plot / story of videos are improving. There is still more to be done, however compared to what the quality was 10-12 years ago, it has drastically improved. We also have more of a female presence in films as well with Neeru Bajwa staring in some great Punjabi movies.
There have also been positive influences in other areas such as playing instruments such as the Dhol, with Rani Taj being a prime example of someone proving and highlighting that females can be as good as their male counterparts. There have also been active measures to change this with the introduction of more talent shows and platforms to showcase talent such as the Brit Asia Superstar competition which allows individuals to step up and showcase their talents in front of a panel of industry experts.
We now have dedicated female performance teams such as Eternal Taal who specialise in female only singers, dancers and dhol players; further highlighting the positive changes being made to set out an equal platform within the industry. We also have female Radio presenters like Deepa and Suzi Maan as well as DJs such as DJ Harpz and DJ Kayper who are setting the standard and being role models for other female artists and upcoming hopefuls wanting to break it into the industry.
I still feel that we as an industry can do more to encourage female artists in the Bhangra industry, in all aspects whether it be singing, dancing, or music production.
What are your thoughts on the recent state of UK Bhangra for female artists?
Do you think there should be more done to promote and encourage female artists in the industry?
Let us know in the comments below!