Exclusive! ‘Hosanna’ singer Leon D’Souza: Rahman is a one-man band – Times of India


Leon D’Souza, the voice behind the melodious ‘Hosanna’ can’t thank A.R. Rahman enough for the beautiful composition. As the legend celebrates his 54th birthday today, ETimes gets in touch with the singer to find out his experience of working with the maestro. Read on :

‘Hosanna’ was a huge hit and your debut Bollywood track as well. How was it working with AR Rahman?

I had first met AR Rahman in 2011 on Valentine’s Day at his Powai studio. He’d made me sing a couple of English songs as he was building a library of English songs and wanted Indian artistes for it. He didn’t even know my name at that time. I also was very young back then and had no experience of singing in the studio. So,

I was jittery and really scared. But as an artist, you have to believe in yourself and put forth your best. That is what I did.

After we recorded a few songs, he observed that my voice was very different. He is very attracted to voices that sound different and I think that is why I had the privilege of working with him. It was a very surreal experience for me.

How did you come on board with him?

In 2011, I got a call from his studio asking me to fly down to Chennai. Once there, he told me to sing a song that was sung in Tamil and other languages by Vijay Prakashji. I was given the Hindi translation and after hearing it a couple of times, I was in the recording room.

Rahman sir has the ability to make you feel calm. He told me a beautiful thing: “You are the artist, and I want you to give me what God has gifted you, I want to experience you the way you are”. He encouraged me to respect my style, because that’s original and asked me to do the rap part as well. The original rap was done by Blaaze. I thought he would drop it but he retained it and to hear it playing in the movie the next day was an emotional moment for me.

What lessons should one imbibe from the music he has created?

Just like Mozart, AR Rahman is a very humble man and the humility comes through in his music. You can be a great musician, know your scale and ragas down pat but if you are not humble, it’s of no use. I truly believe that he is the God Of Music.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about him?

He is a genius! That’s the only word that comes to mind, to sum up how he works his magic with buttons. He understands music and sounds so well, he can be called a one-man band. Put him in a studio and he will do everything—from the beginning to the end.

Which of his songs are close to your heart and why?

I am going to say ‘Hosanna’ because it changed my life. But I listen to all his music. I love all the songs from ‘Taal’ ‘Guru’ and ‘Delhi 6’. The list can go on and on.

What is that one thing that you admire about AR Rahman?

His ability to lift people up by giving them a chance to shine as he did for me.

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