Dubai: A 12-year-old Indian girl in Dubai is trying to break the Guinness World Record in singing in most languages in one concert.
Suchetha Satish, a grade seven student of The Indian High School in Dubai, will attempt to sing songs in 85 languages during the attempt scheduled for December 29.
According to the Guinness World Records, Dr Kesiraju Srinivas, aka Ghazal Srinivas, holds the current record for singing in 76 languages at the Gandhi Hills, Andhra Pradesh, India on June 2-3, 2008.
Speaking to Gulf News, the Dubai prodigy said she now knows to sing songs in 80 languages, a skill she acquired in just over a year. Her plan is to learn at least five more songs in five different languages before she attempts to break the record.
Born in a family of ardent music lovers, Suchetha started learning Carnatic music at the tender age of four. At eight, she started learning Hindustani music and is all set to face the third level exam in it.
Apart from her passion in music, Suchetha has been showing a flair for languages for a long time, said her mother Sumitha.
“When we visit any country, she catches the language there very fast and remembers the words,” she said.
Hailing from the south Indian state of Kerala, Suchetha already knew to sing in some Indian languages like Hindi, Malayalam and Tamil. She has also been singing English songs in school competitions.
But it was only last year that Suchetha started singing in other foreign languages.
“My first song in a foreign language was in Japanese,” said Suchetha.
“My father’s friend, a Japanese dermatologist, came to Dubai a year ago. When she came home, she sang a Japanese song. I liked it very much and learnt it.”
It was when she gave a pitch-perfect rendition to the Japanese song that Suchetha and her parents realised her potential. “Since I am already learning Arabic and because it is the language of the UAE, I started learning Arabic songs,” said Suchetha.
A regular performer at music shows, award functions, and community group events, Suchetha started singing in Arabic during such programmes as well.
“Then I learnt Tagalog since there are a lot of Filipino expats here.”
There was no looking back after that. Almost every week, Suchetha learnt songs in new languages.
As she learnt more and more songs, the idea of going for a record blossomed.
How she learns various songs
Her parents help her choose languages from the recognised list of world languages.
Her mother checks the age-appropriateness of the songs. She has to depend on people who know the language or Google translation for that.
Friends and patients of her dermatologist father, Dr T.C. Satish who works with Axon Medica, also encouraged Suchetha by suggesting songs in different languages.
“It is only because I live here that I got such big support from people speaking various languages. They have helped me in singing with correct pronunciation.”
The first criterion for shortlisting a song is the availability of karaoke. The ease of learning the song depends on the length and complexity of the lyrics.
“Usually I take around two hours to learn a song. If it is easy to pronounce, I can learn it fast. If it is not a lengthy song, I can finish in half an hour.”
French, Hungarian, and German were the most difficult ones for her. “I took a couple of days to learn those songs.”
Of all the songs she learnt, Suchetha loves the one in Maori, the dying New Zealand tribal language also known as Te Reo. “It is a very sweet song,” she said.
Once a song is finalised, she keeps listening to it umpteen times and learns it by heart. She will be singing all the songs without the help of written lyrics.
Suchetha said she has chosen songs from a variety of genres ranging from pop to hip-hop and folk songs.
“I have tried to include traditional songs in many languages from different continents. There are some songs in dialects or branches of some languages like Yue Cantonese, a branch of Mandarin, for example. There are some songs without any lyrics like the Hungarian song I learnt.”
A recipient of Shaikh Hamdan Award for Academic Excellence, Suchetha is also an excellent dancer and a spell bee champion. Though her role models are Indian singers Lata Mangeshkar and Shreya Ghoshal, Suchetha wishes to pursue a career in medicine like her father.