In Seventh heaven with the HARP!

The young harpist Anushka Lewis made the best of a heaven-sent opportunity to master the intriguing and fascinating musical instrument. Apart from her zeal to strum the harp, she also loves to hold concerts, cook, eat, watch TV, sing --- and dance!

The Womenz team had an opportunity to interview Anushka Lewis, a harpist from Mumbai, India and here’s what they shared with us

Please tell us something about you, your schooling, education and life before your musical journey

I was born and brought up in the Kuwait into a very music loving family. If we didn’t play an instrument, we could at least sing. I studied at Carmel School Kuwait after which I moved to Bangalore to Christ University to do my degree in media, literature and psychology. It was in universty where I started singing with the university choir and my love for music turned into something a little more serious.

Tell us about your hobbies and skills

My hobbies and skills? I love to cook and binge watch TV shows. I guess the TV show bit isn’t really a skill haha. I also love to dance.

Can you please tell our readers about Harp? What is it and its origin? Its specialties?

The harp is an extremely old instrument. It always written about in ancient mythology but also we see different versions of the harp from all over the world like the African Kora. There isn’t a specific region from where it has originated but the harp that we have today comes from Ireland and Scotland. Specialties? It makes the simplest of tunes sound so beautiful.

When did you first hear it? What inspired you to learn Harp?

I first heard it when I attended the KM Music Conservatory in 2009. Our theory teacher, Alison Maggart, is a harpist and she performed for one of the school functions. It isn’t hard to fall in love with the instrument. But I think more than being in love I was very intrigued by it. It was so large and had so many strings and there were pedals, I just wanted to know what it was all about. Little did I know that I would end up making it my principle instrument.

Anushka with her Harp

Was it easy learning the Harp?  What are the difficulties you faced?

Learning any instrument is a challenge and there’s no difference when it comes to the harp. Many people will tell you that you should start learning an instrument at a young age and that’s primarily because it’s easy to mould the body of a child to an instrument. So at 21 years, which is when I started, it was a lot of learning how to teach my body to do things. But it wasn’t something that was impossible. Just took a little more focus I guess.

Who is your mentor and guide in your musical journey with Harp?

I owe my entire harp play skills to Alison Maggart. If she hadn’t backed me as a student to change my majors from Vocals to Harp, none of this would’ve been possible. She really believed in me and learnt the way I learnt and taught me. It was of the best years of my life to learn under her.

You are a singer and song writer too. Tell us more about it

Singing is something I always did since I was a child, so I knew that that would come easy. The song-writing part really took shape when I needed something to play a part from the few classical pieces that I learnt. Also I had bought myself a folk harp which I was new to as opposed to a pedal harp that  I learnt on. This coupled with my laziness to sight read (which no one should ever have) lead me to just writing my own music.

As a Harpist when and where you did your first performance? How was that experience.

My first ever performance with the harp apart from my harp recitals that I did in music school was with singer-songwriter Sidd Coutto. I collaborated with him on his solo album and then performed with him for the album release. But my first debut as a harpist-singer-songwriter was at Live From the Console which used to happen at the legendary Mehboob Studio at Mumbai. It was an unforgetable experience. I had the most attentive audience that evening which was quite overwhelming but I wasn’t complaining at all.

Which are your favourite places to perform? Corporate events, private performances, music clubs?

Oh music clubs for sure. I’ve stopped doing corporate events, unless it’s something that really appeals to me. And I’ve never done private parties. Some of my favourite clubs to play at Blue Frog (when it was around), Antisocial, The Humming Tree and Pianoman Jazz Club.

Where do you find an inspiration for your music?

Most of my music is based on my life experiences and people I meet, things that affect me directly or indirectly. Just like a storyteller.

Are you open to teach Harp to others?

I would so love to. But unfortunately the instrument isn’t easily available in India so getting one for a student at a reasonable price would be tough.

As a women did you face any hurdles in your journey? If yes, how you faced and conquered them?

I think women have hurdles in any line of work. You’re constantly having to push against people who think you can’t achieve your goals just because you’re a woman. I still feel I have to constantly talk above all the noise to be heard. I hate that when I’m in meetings I have to constantly reiterate my views to make people believe I know what I’m talking about. And this is both in the performing industry as well as the music education industry.

Please tell us if you have any interesting / funny incident you had while dealing with your fan.

Firstly, I don’t really have fans to deal with and who ever comes up to me loving my music are just the sweetest people who I love meeting. Although I once did a corporate show where the hostess of the party decided to pose next to me while I was playing which was great. But she then decided to hold the harp and pose which lead the harp to move whilst I was playing. I didn’t know if I wanted to yell at her or laugh.

Please tell us about your family and their support to all this.

I consider myself an extremely lucky girl. My parents and my sister have never once said no to me. They really stuck out their necks for me when “society” had something or the other to say about my line of work. And I think that’s my biggest motivation to keep at what I do.

How  you manage to balance your family and work life.

My life is my work, I guess. I live with my cat, Piccolo, and we’re very happy. I always make sure that I do spend a considerable amount of time in a year with my parents and my sister.

Your biggest achievement so far.

I think that’s yet to come but I did launch my own company OffSet in partnership with my producer, Ayan De, which I’m very very proud of.

Your further plans

I’m currently working on my second EP which should be out sometime next year.

Your views on Gender equality

Our country needs it. The world needs it. I mean, it’s 2017 for crying out loud. I think it’s high time women get equal respect and equal pay in an line of work. Respect more than anything if you ask me. We shouldn’t still be fighting for our rights.

Any message to aspiring women out there who are struggling to prove themselves?

Just keep at it. When you start losing focus remind yourself why you stuck around for this long.


Anushka, we at TheWomenz team express our earnest appreciation for sharing your story and talent with us. We believe it will surely stimulate fellow women in every country and continent in the world.

Anushka Lewis can be reached on twitter, Facebook & Instagram 

First Published: 21-Oct-2017- 08:47