Wahida Gomes’ lilting songs are warming listeners in the city

Wahida Gomes. One expects an older person or rather what one is not expecting is a young woman who looks even younger than she is. Dressed in a short beige dress Wahida looks barely more than a schoolgirl. The bold blonde streaks and the sky-high heels give her the look of a glamourous school girl.

“My parents love the name,” she explains her rather old-world name. She sings at Swirl in The Gateway Hotel. From Abba and the Carpenters to Rihanna and Lady Gaga, her oeuvre, musically, spans generations of pop musicians. She has been singing here for a fortnight, and says she is warming up to Kochi. Although she hasn’t seen too much of Kochi, she agrees that it is not too different from her hometown Goa.

From the choir of the Saviour of the World Church in Luotolim, South Goa, to singing in Kochi is quite a change of scene. She laughs in agreement, “I don’t take it as a job, it’s all music and I am passionate about singing.” She started at four and was noticed by her manager. With that the girl from Loutolim’s career took off. She has been singing at the Taj properties in Udaipur, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Baroda, Jodhpur, Mangalore and Goa, to name a few places. Her previous stint was in Goa.

Twin passions

Her one passion feeds the other. Music lets her indulge in her love for travel. “I have travelled so much because of my music and the way I see it I get to do two things that I love most.” She has also sung at several corporate events and has sung a couple of songs for a Christmas album in Konkani.

Singing in a lounge bar would have its challenges, such as insistent patrons or those who don’t pay attention at all. She shakes her head and cautiously offers, “I have not had these problems at all. The guests have been extremely attentive and spur my singing.” She says she likes to mix it up when it comes to her music, a little bit of nostalgia and a bit of fast numbers. A slow number generally starts the evening and then the tempo picks up.

And she is talking about singing close to 40 songs per evening. A ‘performer’s instinct’, which she has acquired over the years, helps her suss out the crowd’s mood and play accordingly. She makes a mental note of the songs to sing and the sequence, but mixes it up with the requests for songs she gets from guests and improvises. As far as her singing goes she says she practises daily and does voice training. “If I am not singing then I like to exercise and yoga. Exercise helps build stamina which I need if I have to sing like I do.”

So her parents must be musicians, one presumes. “No! I am the only musician in the family,” comes her reply. What about Kochi does she like most? “I haven’t really stepped out that much…”she says as she looks at the backwaters. With that she signs off.