From a small village of Liromoba under West- Siang District, Aalo to the national capital Delhi and now at Mumbai, 26-yr-old Jeli Keyi is making it big and consequently everyone around proud. As the promo videos of the singing reality show Indian Idol 7 of Jeli Keyi singing in two voices and renditions hit the national channel few months back, everyone got enchanted and entranced with his skill and voice. As soon as the promos got aired, even Jeli Keyi was surprised to see a tremendous response and following, coming up on his social networking site profiles. He had never imagined that he would become an identifiable face an overnight and receive much admiration and adoration.
Born to parents Taje Kayi and Yapi Kayi in the village of Liromoba under West- Siang District, Aalo. Jeli has been passionately singing from his early age of 8. He completed his fundamentals from Liromoba Secondary School and later from Kamba Higher Secondary School, West Siang district . He completed his Bachelors in Arts from Dera Natung Government College, Itanagar. He is brought up with his six siblings in a small abode where singing was not much appreciated by his parents and neighbourhood but which is now turned to be just a myth for his close ones and next door folks.
Yougan Tamang of TNT – The Northeast had conversation with the aspiring singing sensation Jeli Kayi and tried to delve into his personal life and musical journey. Here’s the excerpt from the interview.
TNT: How did Indian Idol 9 happen to you? Please tell us about it.
JK: I have always been passionate about singing from my early age. I come from a family which I categorise as a middle class economy family, where our priorities was to earn good money and live well, none especially parents really appreciated singing not because they dislike singing but singing was not meant to be a successful career as they perceived and believed. Despite not much of support, I used to participate in local singing competitions and perform in many events. I used to watch on television, many lives changing through singing reality competitions. There are many competitions as such in the country so, I tried to get auditioned for many too. Likewise, Indian Idol is the most celebrated and popular singing reality competition in the country. I had even auditioned for Indian Idol 5 in 2009 and got through to Top 40 as well but later I couldn’t make it. Last year I again saw the promos of Indian Idol 9 on television and applied for the same and got auditioned at Kolkata and got through. Now the rest is just history (laughs).
TNT: You sing really beautifully and seemed much trained? Did you take any formal training on singing/music? Tell us briefly.
JK: Thank you for your appreciation. No, I didn’t actually take any formal training in singing/music infact I grew up listening to songs on radio and records and started learning music that way. I didn’t even have someone to correct me if I was hitting the wrong note?. I used to practice singing every morning and that really helped me a lot.
If I talk about formal training recently its just been a while I have started taking formal training in Hindustani Classical and Western Classical at Delhi.
TNT: You amazingly sing in both voices (male and female). How do you do that?
JK: Singing in both the voices i.e male or female has been my exclusive forte may be (laughs). It is a gift from the Almighty above. I knew it since my early days that I am different and I can sing in both the voices. As I mentioned I didn’t have anyone around to help me to hone up my gift or skill but my regular practices really helped me a lot. Initially, it was just something I thought it would help me attract audiences around and make me look unique but it has been few years where I have been polishing the skills consistently and using it to really pursue my love and passion for singing and music. Today, Jeli Kayi is known as someone who can sing in both voices but in future I want to be known as someone who can sing in both voices on a correct note and rendition (smiles).
TNT: So, at what age you started performing on stage? Enlighten us please.
JK: Ah, I was pretty young when I started up singing on the stage. My School has a huge contribution to what I am today. It was my school concerts and competitions where I started learning the skills to face mass and words (smiles). If I remember faintly I guess I was in class 7 and of age 13 years when I performed for the first time in singing competition in school.
TNT: Tell us about your participation in events and competitions? Any awards, title or accolades.
JK: Yes, I have participated in many singing competitions in the state of Arunachal Pradesh and other states of the country too and fortunately won few. I have won the first Aalo Idol at district level singing competition and also the first runner-up in Voice of Arunachal contest. Have also participated in North East singing competitions and other competitions as well.
TNT: Before Indian Idol 9, Jeli Kayi has already been a popular name in Arunachal Pradesh. You have recorded many songs as well. Please tell about it.
JK: I am not that popular but popularly people know me (laughs). Fortunately, yes I have recorded around 20 songs and some got really popular. I have songs in both the voices as well. To name few, the songs as Ane ge gomu em; tami aa; ngarka ngarka pada and rupu ahin have become quite popular luckily (smiles).
TNT: What if you become a winner of the Indian Idol 9 and get offers from Bollywood to playback? Would you still prefer singing in both the voices or just a male voice?
JK: (laughs) Man, I am still in the competition but I hope, pray and wish whatever you said would come true (laughs). For now I don’t want to elaborate more on this but hardwork and dedication is all I am pursuing with right now. Playback singing in the Bollywood is every singers’ dream and I passionately crave for it too (laughs), If any day my fortune speaks well and I get any chance in Bollywood for playback than it depends how the composer wants me to sing but I am more comfortable with my male voice (smiles)
TNT: Where do you see yourself in Indian Idol 9 and further in future?
JK: Indian Idol is the most popular reality singing competition of the country, to make this far is itself a challenge and achievement I feel really blessed The competitions’ gonna be really tough I am sure, so Il really work very hard to make everyone back home, northeast and the country proud to have me on the show. I’ll give my best effort to sing good, impress our esteem judges and mesmerise the viewers and audiences.
If I talk about future, I am not that futuristic, I just live the present and presently I am living my dream in Indian Idol.
TNT: Lastly, whats your message to people of Northeast, and India.
JK: I come from the part of the country which has tremendous potential, art and talents. Not many make up to the competitions as such, we face challenges, struggle and some make it and some don’t. So, today I am here to represent not just my dearest Northeastern states but also those souls who failed to make it or feel that one can’t make it. I failed in the previous season of Indian Idol but now I am again here to passionately live music. So, let’s not set ourselves back but rather work hard to live our dream and passion.
Lastly, I am in the competition, so I shall require all the support and prayers from my people back home, Northeast and the country. So, please do support me and remember me always in your prayers.
Thank You All. Thank You Jeli for speaking to TNT- The Northeast Today. We would like to convey the best wishes to you for all the competitions and your future projects and endeavours. We hope to hear more good things from you in days to come. Good Luck Jeli!!
Although Jeli Keyi did not make it to the top 3 of Indian Idol 9, he has yet created a niche for himself in the minds and hearts of people all over India. TNT-the Northeast Today wishes him all the luck for his future endeavours!
–As Interviewed by Yougan Tamang for TNT-The Northeast Today