Meet Kekhrie Ringa, the girl with a soulful voice who has created a niche for herself in the music industry. In today’s ‘Rhythm of Love’ the soulful Singer talks us through her musical journey while she gets upfront with her take on the music industry in the state.
EASTERN MIRROR: Tell us about your early phase into the music industry? How would you describe your sound/music?
Kekhrie Ringa: I grew up wanting to be a singer. Being a stubborn person, I still am, I never gave up.
You are never gifted without a purpose. If your gift is to sing, sing for His glory. If your gift is to teach, teach for His glory. Watching concerts or people singing even in Doordarshan motivated me so much. And not forgetting my parents who are very supportive.
My first solo performance was in church, I guess we all start there. Then I met Sir Theja Meru in 2005 who was kind enough to manage my performances. He gave me the platform I needed.
I experiment a lot with genres. I listen to almost every genre. I grew up listening to rap, hip hop, alternative rock and symphonic metal both Gospel and secular. So I would say my music is pretty versatile. I am in a gospel rock band, I sing Broadway often and my first solo original is house Lol. Given a choice, I would pick Broadway and rock any day.
EASTERN MIRROR: You are one of the few female musicians who have boarded on this profession on your own with Naga Idol 2010 and still surviving with new releases. How challenging was that for you?
Kekhrie Ringa: Naga Idol was one of the biggest platforms I ever stepped into. It lifted the bars for my career. I got into it knowing that I wouldn’t be able to afford the tickets. We need to change the voting system. It is not fair.
I’ve done my Bachelors of Arts before Naga Idol. But I wanted a degree in music. So in 2011, I went to Bangalore. I did my Bachelors in music at the Bangalore Conservatory.
When you set your heart into something, works hard and pray for it, he guides you.
The first day at the conservatory, someone told me about students who gets awards if they do their recitals better than others.
I wanted it so bad. So on the day of graduation, by God’s grace, I got the best Recital award for the class of 2011.
I’ve done two covers. First was pop and the second was Broadway.
Broadway is huge abroad. It is being slowly introduced here and I’m glad I’m one of those few singers who get to do it.
No matter what profession one is in, if one tries to get ahead of God’s plan, everything becomes a challenge. We just have to trust and obey. I have made my share of mistakes but I learned. I don’t sit and cry about what I could have done.
I am quite an introvert so I would, when I’m called to perform, sing and disappear. I’m bad at socialising. This year, I decided to move out of my comfort zone. You are your own limit. In this industry, there are two ways to make it. The long hard way or the easy ladders that are offered, I chose the former.
EASTERN MIRROR: Who do you consider to be your most significant musical influences?
Kekhrie Ringa: Christina Aguilera, this lady can sing. I must have been in the 7th standard when Genie in a bottle was released. I heard it on the radio, I couldn’t understand the concept of the lyrics but her voice fascinated me. Till date, she is my favourite. We share similar childhood drama too so I can relate to some of her songs. I don’t necessarily like all her songs though.
EASTERN MIRROR: If you could do a show from Nagaland/ Northeast who would that be and why?
Kekhrie Ringa: Hahaha. Gosh I wish I could perform with every single artist or band or musician.
Given a life and death situation, I’ll pick Nise Meruno. We have performed together and it was such an experience. He has the heart of a servant, he never fails to motivate me, he is so supportive and he is one of the most humble human beings I’ve ever met.
EASTERN MIRROR: What has changed the most for you after making a mark in the music industry?
Kekhrie Ringa: I still don’t think I have made a mark, still a long way to go. I don’t think about the word ‘fame’. I do what I love. The biggest changes happened at the Conservatory. I learnt to read English all over again.
The first few singing classes had me just reading the words, trying to get rid of my mother tongue influence. Diction lessons made me so conscious. I can’t stand any of my old performance videos, lol.
My vocal coach at the conservatory, Sir Kenneth Paul Henson, probably the coolest American I’ve ever come across, helped me both as a mentor and a spiritual guide. Four years of training under him humbled me.
I also trained under ma’am Ajeen Longchari for a while and she has been a huge blessing to me too.
When you work with mentors who love the Lord, the kind of growth one gets is such an experience. You grow not just as a performer but also as a believer. Biggest change that happened to me…I learnt to wait on his timing.
EASTERN MIRROR: What are the challenges and rewards that come from working as a musician?
Kekhrie Ringa: Phil 4:13, helps me every single day. No matter what profession one maybe in, there is no substitute for hard work.
If one believes, works for it, the universe can’t stop good things from happening to you. I use the word ‘universe’ because hard work isn’t limited by religion. Anyone who works hard can succeed.
The challenges that one faces mostly (especially new comers) are lack of platforms, resources, mentors, finance, support and not being able to get out of our comfort zone/taking risks. That is when a lot of us fall vulnerable to anything that is offered.
One needs to walk cautiously. The kind of peace that comes when one had worked genuinely for something can never be replaced by anything.
Hard work pays off. I’m so grateful to God for all the experiences I have had. I learnt, I grew and I changed.
The Kekhrie back in 2011 is dead.lol. It’s such a reward when people especially young ones tells me that I inspire them….brings a sense of responsibility too. I’m glad I get paid for what I do because well, I need to survive. However, it’s not just about getting paid. I have performed for free, for a cause, the blessings that follows are priceless.
EASTERN MIRROR: What are the unidentified challenges and obstacles faced in Nagaland’s music industry?
Kekhrie Ringa: This is a delicate topic. I might get into trouble for this but I will speak out.
No one is perfect, I am no angel but I can proudly say that till date I have not offered myself to anyone for easy fame or money.
I have gotten a few calls from people who have money and can offer big platforms in exchange of ‘time’ with them. How does one look in the mirror after selling oneself?
Fame and money are worldly. It’s here only for a while but the soul you carry….is forever.
Pride is something we all are offered freely especially in this industry. We need to stay away from it.
A major challenge is ‘lack of support from family, this is caused by generation gap and I don’t blame our elders.
We need to make the effort to educate the older generation that music is also a ‘job’. We are usually asked to pursue government jobs…well…music is a universal job. No hard work goes unpaid.
Our Naga musicians/singers needs formal training, be it a crash course or a full on degree course.
Not all can afford long term music education so I request you all to grab every workshop and seminars that are held often.
There are free classes offered especially at churches. I’m available for small sessions. Some people record their voices and send them on Whatsapp. We need to help upcoming artists. I really want new comers to have everything I never had when I first started performing…which includes…formal music education.
If you see talents around you, please do something about it. Let’s help each other. Payments are also one of the challenges. We spent lakhs on our music education.
I would advice my fellow performers both new and old to have a price but charge according to the occasion. Not every event is monetised; I’ve seen event organisers trying to make ends meet. Having said that, we also need to be respected for the amount of hard work that goes into learning our art.
I take care of my health, as a lover of ice creams; it is such a challenge for me to have it just 3 to 4 times in a year. When there are big shows, we spend money on our outfits, hair and makeup, transportation and the score sheet of our pieces.
Music is expensive. Respect has to be from both sides. The sound system ….is an issue mostly when we perform. We need sound engineers who really know how to work with the equipments. Here again, both the engineers and the musicians needs to understand and work with each other.
EASTERN MIRROR: Tell us about Kekhrie behind the music scene?
Kekhrie Ringa: The Kekhrie you see on stage is the Kekhrie you’ll see everywhere. The life we live, especially as performers, is a stage. People do observe us even when we are not on stage.
I’m very choosy when it comes to picking friends. I grew up without siblings so I’m a dog person. I can’t be in a crowd for long. I’m someone who is very bold and I get into trouble coz of it. On a random holiday, you will find me running around with my dog. I think I’ll have to marry a dog lover.
EASTERN MIRROR: So, what’s next for you?
Kekhrie Ringa: God has been surprising me with new people in my life; people I never thought would approach or help me. I am feeling really blessed right now. Fireflood’s songs are getting mastered now. Waiting for our album release.
I’ll be releasing my first solo single on the 15th of August at August rush. I’m really busy trying to balance my works as a teacher and a performer. I’ll be shooting my music video in a couple of days. In short, I just plan to continue being a GOAL DIGGER.