THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: For a youngster for whom the gene for churning out yummy delicacies runs in the family, Samantha Coe has no qualms in admitting she’s a “disaster” in the kitchen. “The women in my family are incredible cooks. But I am the black sheep when it comes to cooking. Strangely none of them has any inclination for music but that somehow caught on in me. Looks like I sacrificed the cooking gene for the musical one!” says the 23-year-old English singer and songwriter who took her music lessons from the Royal School of Music. The singer from Suffolk who loves western classical singing was in the city recently to record a song for an international album with composer Sunny Viswanath.
“I learnt to play the piano, keyboard, guitar, clarinet, saxophone and mandolin by the time I was 17. I had four private music teachers from whom I took lessons after school. Dad bought me a guitar for my 12th birthday and after teaching myself a few chords I pieced songs together. I enjoyed playing with words, writing lyrics and singing my songs to my long suffering family members who never got a moment of peace with me in the house!” says Samantha as she breaks into laughter. “I love singing more than playing any of these instruments.” After completing a teaching diploma from the Central Academy of Music, London, the singer became a secretary in a bank. “When it finally dawned on me that the job was squashing my creativity, I let go and joined a pop band called ‘Wild Flowers’ where I was the lead guitarist and singer.” Her association with Eliot Kennedy, the English producer and songwriter who formed the band, took her on a tour with the famous western pop band ‘Take That’. “It was a wonderful year in my life, filled with the excitement and fun things you would expect with a girl band.”
Even as she was doing her A-Levels in music Samantha got into teaching music to kids. “I love teaching. I get a real buzz out of mentoring and helping people explore their creativity and voice. I ensure that my students enjoy their lessons ‘coz it’s such an expressive activity. The classical tutoring is more strict especially when I teach different languages (through the Royal School we sing in Latin, Italian, German and French). So it’s important that the diction and pronunciation are correct. Sometimes I end up a counsellor as well! People have a tendency to tell me their problems. It makes me proud as it shows people are comfortable with me. And I like to think I give good advice,” she says with a charming smile. “Right now I teach music in Norwich. I specialise in singing but do a bit of piano too. My students are between six and 75! I teach contemporary and classical vocals and prepare them for auditions and music exams. It’s strange to be on the other side watching my students go in for exams when I take so many myself!”
Ask her about being a student of the prestigious Royal School of Music and she says, “I did not attend the school directly as I was too young but took the exams privately on the instruction of my tutors. The exams were always very tough but incredibly rewarding. Just to have the recognition from such a prestigious exam board was motivation enough to conquer the world! After each exam I passed I was back into studying for the next grade. I’m still studying music theory. It’s very hard. It’s a bit like Maths. I was never great at that. So it’s a Herculean task for me to pass Grade VIII in music theory.”
Samantha is excited about the first song she recorded in India. “The song I’ve done with Sunny is called ‘Miracle in You’ which is an East and West fusion number. It has traditional Indian musical instruments combined with a western vocal. I wrote the lyrics inspired by the splendour of God’s Own Country.” She has also kept her fingers crossed for a dream project. “I have written a new album which is ready to be recorded. I hope to complete it by early next year.” Samantha takes leave with a promise. “You can see more of me in the days to come. I just love your place. Believe me, it was here that I saw an elephant for the first time ever!”