In Conversation with “Eternals” Singer-Songwriter Celina Sharma

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I have a ritual when I sit down to watch Marvel movies. My phone is in another room. I settle into my favorite seat, crank up the volume, and lose myself in the world the latest film transports me to.

“Eternals” marked the introduction of new characters and notably, the most diverse cast Marvel Studios has recruited. The inclusion of an entire Bollywood dance sequence was something I hadn’t expected – plus a British South Asian singer leading the way with the only original playback song.

Born in Australia, Celina Sharma moved to the UK at the age of 16 to pursue her passion for music. The singer-songwriter now divides his time between London and Los Angeles while continuing to shape his career.

Co-writing and singing the only original song from a Marvel movie is a career-defining moment. How did all this happen? Sharma explained,

Thanks to social media, “Eternals” director Chloe Zhao saw me singing covers on Instagram, and it all really started from there. To have this opportunity to be part of the “Eternals” soundtrack is so surreal because I grew up watching Marvel movies and have always been a fan.

Writing and singing a song for a Bollywood sequence in a Marvel movie is no small feat. The pressure to maintain this balance by staying true to the script but also seizing the opportunity to portray South Asian culture must have weighed on Sharma. How did she find a song that satisfied both needs?

We were given a description of what the stage would look like, so I had inspiration to guide me for the lyrics of the song. I wanted to incorporate Indian influences into the song because the scene had a Bollywood vibe. There was a lot of dancing involved, so I thought the track should have some catchy, upbeat moments to fit the vibe.

When listening to any of Sharma’s songs, you will immediately notice how smooth and powerful her voice is. Her distinct sound becomes easy to place the more you listen to her and while you get an idea of ​​the kind of sound she’s looking to evoke, there was more to the original number than just lending her vocals.

As I was writing the song, melodically I wanted to add a bit more flair with the use of ad-libs and harmonies. Since the song was more upbeat and lively, I wanted to deliver an energetic performance, so people could capture the mood of the scene.

[Read Related: British-Asian Music Artist Hana Irene Fuses Bollywood and TikTok Favourites to Create her Lockdown EP]

Music platforms and social media present a different measure of the success of music today. Something Sharma recently experienced with her song “24/7,” which amassed 50 million global streams.

I’ve been amazed at how quickly 24/7 TikTok and Instagram reels have grown globally into markets I never could have imagined, like Indonesia or Germany. Over a million videos have been created using the song in less than a month, which is crazy. Seeing “24/7” being listened to around the world now is such a blessing, and I’m so happy to see people connecting with the song the way they are. I received so much love and support, for which I am grateful.

That’s a positive sign, especially for a South Asian-born artist breaking into the mainstream music industry. Creative careers are often frowned upon by the South Asian community or discouraged altogether, however, there is no denying Sharma’s talent and passion.

Besides the cultural challenges surrounding creative careers, Sharma is also aware of the challenges within the industry.

As a half-Indian person and an artist who wants to achieve mainstream success, one of the main challenges is that when you look at the Billboard charts or the Hot Hits playlist on Spotify, you will rarely see anyone who is just from India. a South Asian heritage. . There is and has been a real lack of role models for South Asians in the mainstream when considering the global “South Asian” population.

We’ve seen recent breakthroughs with the likes of Tesher’s “Jalebi Baby” and other South Asian talent like MIA and Charli XCX. However, if there are so many passionate South Asian artists waiting in the wings, what is stopping the mainstream industry from investing in and further developing this talent?

I think one of the main reasons is that the industry doesn’t really understand South Asian culture and how to position it for the general public, due to a lack of knowledge, expertise and experience in main buildings. Artists who have had global ambitions are often considered merely “South Asian” artists for South Asian audiences rather than considered the top 40 global artists for global audiences.

One thing is for sure, Sharma’s work with Marvel’s “Eternals” won’t stay in a box. The occasion is one on which she reflects fondly.

There have been plenty of highlights so far, but if I had to pick one, it would be attending the ‘Eternals’ premiere in Los Angeles and getting a chance to see the amazing Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek, and then watching the movie and seeing my song in the movie was a proud moment for me!

At just 19, Sharma already shows an awareness of the difficulties facing South Asian artists, which she says she overcame “by having the right management and now with an independent label that understands my vision”.

If his current job is anything to go by, Sharma’s vision will only grow bigger and bigger. and will serve as an important role model for emerging South Asian musicians.

Safeera Sarjoo

Based in London, UK, Safeera is a journalist and social media manager working in the education sector. Better representation, especially for Indo-Caribbean and South Asian communities, fuels his writing – accompanied by a good cup of coffee. Her work has been published in the Huffington Post and iNews. She also explores other interests on her website, Travel plans will always include a trip to New York, the best brunches involve chicken and waffles and his biggest achievement yet? Face your fears and speak on the radio.

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