Every year, countries including Bangladesh celebrate International Women’s Day to honour the women of the world- however, it has been long debated whether the world needs a women’s day in the name of women empowerment.
A certain Bangladeshi musical group has not bothered about any discussion or thesis regarding the topic. Rather, they dived into the purest essence of music coming out of the hills and started blossoming as five petals of one rose, growing and empowering as the country's first all-female ethnic folk band- F Minor.
“We started our journey on October 2016 - Jadu da (musician Jadu Ritchil) and co-founder Antar Sku formed the band’s first line-up, which has been changed from time to time until becoming stable with five of us, our current line-up”, the band’s lead vocal and co-leader Pinky Chiran told UNB about their start.
The current line up of F Minor features Pinky Patricia Chiran (vocal), Nadia Ritchil Marak (guitar, ukulele and vocal), Glorya Manda Sangma (lead guitar), Diba Chicham Lucy (Cajon) and Akiu Marma (keyboard). All of them are young female students currently studying in Dhaka representing different ethnic communities, with Akiu being from the Marma community and the rest of them from the Garo community.
After the formation, slowly the band started performing in stage shows around the country. Their prominence skyrocketed after the music video of their much-acclaimed song ‘Jongla Phool’ went viral in 2019 at Facebook and YouTube, addressing them to the future fans who were unaware about their music.
Folk music of ethnic communities has been one of the foremost influences for the band from its start. Most of its songs are subjected to the festivals of ethnic communities and romantic genres.
“Bangla, Garo, Chakma, Hajong, Tripura - till this moment, F Minor has performed in all these languages, with an initial target of covering other ethnic languages including Marma, Santali, Khasi and other languages. It’s been very challenging for us to learn and sing in all these languages, but we want to pave our respect and tribute to all these languages of our ethnic communities in our debut album, for which we have been working,” Pinky told UNB.
From their very first prominent attendance at the Garo Wangala Festival 2016 in Banani, Dhaka to last Saturday’s Joy Bangla Concert 2020 in Bangladesh Army Stadium - the band saw many ups and downs, yet managed to remain completely fine and continued rocking stages despite being a female folk band in the patriarchal band scene.
“If I say we did not face any trouble at all or if I say we never faced any trouble being an all-female band, both of these statements would be wrong. We found so many good souls as our supporters, well-wishers and brothers-sisters-friends and seniors in our journey who have been cheering for us, as well as male listeners who felt that we cannot shine in their regime and female listeners who thought we are just a gimmick and our band cannot progress further. We welcomed the criticism, but we never took this ground for granted,” Pinky expressed her opinion about the things F Minor are facing in the society since the beginning.
That being said, the band is not running with music based on completely feminist-driven lyrics and tunes, urging the society to support them for their gender and origin. “We are female and representing the diversities in Bangladesh, not leveraging through our gender or ethnic identity for anything. Our lyrics and music speak for all because we are all human and Bangladeshi people, something that we are extremely proud of,” Keyboardist Akiu Marma told UNB.
From the Baisuk fest of Tripura community to the Biju’s of Chakma and Sangrai of the Marma people, the band F minor creates their majestic melodies aiming to reintroduce the local ethnic songs which are made on the life, natural beauty and culture of ethnic people - to the mainstream music sphere of Bangladesh. One of their original songs from this spirit is Nachbe Pahar, which they first performed at Balipara of Thanchi in Bandarban.
As the country's first all-female ethnic folk band, F Minor certainly has made songs on women. One of their most popular and original songs, ‘Somosto Din’ is one such tribute to women spotlighting their daily life in the country. A common idea in the male-chauvinist society that is generally and widely seen is that women’s lives are chained in completing household works as if she has nothing else to do and not capable enough to win the world without having a voice to break the barrier. The song, dedicated to women homemakers for raising voice against inequality, is the band’s commitment towards the empowerment of women in the society.
Rising bright and powerful with no intention to dominate and bring any chaos, F Minor simply wants to portray what women can do in the male-powered society if they can have the stage to rock. Thousands of its fans dancing with the rhythm of its performances at Joy Bangla Concert, Dhaka Lit Fest or Wangala festival reminds about the harmonious Bangladesh that the Father of the Nation dreamed of, and F Minor is certainly becoming the torchbearer for the future through breaking the gender barrier.