SHEER luck or the reward for fighting against odds on her march to victory. Whatever one calls it, Australian singer Zenya Bashford and her song, ‘My Turn’, will be heard at the London Olympics in 2012.
It was while looking for a place to stay in New York that she bumped into a friend who was part of the marketing team of the Games. Through him Zenya saw a dream come true. “I believe in God’s plan for me,” says the singer, who is in the city for a recording with composer Sunny Viswanath.
“I’ve always wanted to make it big. ‘My Turn’ is a self portrait. I had no financial support but I worked hard to make the right connections to reach my dream.
I’ve gone through the trials and tribulations every artist has to go through before accomplishing his or her goal.
It’s through my integrity and God’s help that ‘My Turn’ will get its turn at the next Olympic games. I want my song to give encouragement to the athletes and tell them through my life that it’s when preparation meets opportunity that you meet success,” says the singer as her bangles (“I love them!”) jingle.
Zenya took a liking to music as a nine-year-old. “I was inspired by my four older brothers who play the guitar.
I was so into Michael Jackson that I wrote down the lyrics of his songs and practised singing them before I started penning my own lines,” the songstress says. With her poems and guitar, Zenya started doing small shows in schools, churches, parks and local events in her home town Newcastle in Sydney. Soon she got into vocal arranging and recorded the songs that she loved. She would sing a spot every week with a band at a local pub. Zenya made an impact with her powerful voice and sassy stage presence before moving on to singing with the ‘GenR8’ trio.
Zenya’s musical journey took her to Indonesia when she was 19. “That was when I recorded with American producer Michael Falcone. I toured with a 10 piece international band throughout Asia for a year. In between rehearsals and performances, I’d record with the Indonesia based producer from Ohio. That equipped me with the experience and knowledge to further my recording career. What more, I learnt Indonesian in seven months! Indonesia is like a second home to me.” Back in Sydney, she started recording with Zeus. “That influenced the way I write and arrange songs,” says Zenya, who was chosen the ‘Hottest Urban Artist’ of Newcastle in 2006.
Her original R&B track ‘Boy’ was appreciated by many.
Soon she established contacts and worked with big names such as Snoop Dogg and Backstreet Boys. She has worked with Justin Timberlake’s band as well. “Charlie Wilson, the pianist of Justin’s band, has been a great support.” It was after she shifted to New York last year that her single ‘Slick’, an up tempo pop number, was released.
The song was played at the National Basketball Association (NBA) finals recently.
“I’m so happy when people demand it on the radio like crazy!” says Zenya who’ll soon work with Shaggy’s producer Dwayne Shippy in New York. Golden Chyl, who worked on Shaggy’s last album, is on Zenya’s writing team now. “By the end of this year, I’ll work on a song with Snoop Dogg. Right now, I am working on my next single, ‘Freaky Delight’, which will be released soon.” Zenya has many plans up her sleeve. “I want to work hard and be the first Australian artist to be in the number one position in the US. I’d love to act. Business is another area I’d love to step into.” The singer who loves kids has a few plans for their uplift. “Once I’m settled down in life, I want to help someone like me to achieve his or her goal. I want to be a mentor to kids whose parents have separated,” says Zenya, whose mom was born in the Heddon Greta migrant camp.
“After World War II, it became one of the largest migrant camps in Australia. My mom doesn’t remember much ‘coz she left the place before she was two. But she knew that life was hard out there.” It was a blessing for the writer in Zenya to have come to India. “Recording ‘Forever yours’, a romantic song, with Sunny was a delight. Your country helped me relax and unwind. It has taught me to live the moment. Life is mad out there in New York and Sydney. I’m learning about your rituals, tradition and culture. Kerala cuisine is so yummy! I love dosa and chutney, and puttu with ghee and sugar. I’m learning how to make these ‘coz when I’m back in New York I don’t wanna miss them!” she says with a laugh.