Report by Shahzad SheikhPhotos and Videos: Kevin Augustine & TeamBritish Asia News Network
London, Aug 6: Much-awaited mega event organised by Goan Association, in collaboration with all other Goan associations in the United Kingdom, saw a huge success with record number of 15000 crowd attending with active participation throughout the day.
The event was hosted on August 4, 2019 at Cranford Community College High Street, Cranford. It had a spiritual opening with the Mass offered by Bishop Patrick Lynch on an open ground attended by a large number of devotees.
The entertainment part began at around 1 pm with 'Goa Day' opening song with dancers. The Konkani numbers were rendered by Diamond Fernandes, Zara Rodrigues, Nick Carvalo, Agnel D’Souza. Emsley De Souza, Comedian Jane, Anthony Marcus, Jose Mendes, Victor De Verem, Seby and Canny De Vasco, James Sparkey & group, Noywen & Natasha Fernandes, Ron Coelho, Babit De Zuari, Andrew & Andrea, Anthony de Nuvem, Eddie Fernandes from Switzerland and Benzer Fernandes who gave popular numbers one after another.
Apart from songs, dance performance by Jason & Sylvia, Sinatra Fernandes, Rosy & Group, was spectacular.
DJ Flacid and Big Dream Bank too contributed to the success of the event by their performance.
But it was Lorna Corderio, the Nightingale of Goa, who put entertainment fire to the stage by her evergreen performance, though she could come only after 4 pm. The crowd, at the venue, which was waiting for her arrival anxiously, was not disappointed.
Bella Fernandes compered the event with her vocabulary and as usual witty style.
British Asia News managing director Aloysius Richard Lobo and wife Christien who were invited as special guests, were present during the show
How we almost, kinda, actually did interview the Nightingale of Goa!The annual UK Goan Festival in London is kicking! Crowds are whoop-whooping to the frenetic beat of the DJ's mix. We're on the flightpath into Heathrow and with the booming sound system turned up to Eleventeen, I swear even the pilots above are jiving to the beats as they come into land. IT'S THAT LOUD!
Sprawled over the massive grounds of Cranford Community College in Hounslow, this celebration of Goan spirituality, cuisine, culture and of course music and dance takes place on the first Sunday of every August. One of the organisers and President of the Goan Association UK, Ravi Vaz, tells me they're expecting up to 15,000 people.
I get the sense they're already all here, congregating around the massive stage, a swaying mass of human enthusiasm, exuberance and excitement. They're suddenly whipped up into yet more frenzy, as the hosts on stage make the announcement everyone has been waiting for: 'Lorna is here!'
I didn't think it could get any more intense, but the passion voltage just got turned up to hair-raising as a multitude of smart phones get thrust up in the air, directed towards the stage desperate to grab a pixel or two on record of the arrival of the famed headline act.
And then they all suddenly swing around the other way. Because the 75-year old Goan goddess of music is not entering stage-left, like every other of the very many talented performers that have been on today. Oh no, she is arriving in grand style, riding in an appropriate and elegant 1970s Mercedes 450 SL convertible. Surrounded by security the car is making painstakingly slow progress through the crowd, even Moses would struggle to part this sea of people and provide passage. As for the affectionately named 'Nightingale of Goa' the diminutive diva, resplendent in her stage gown, shockingly red bouffant and glittering make-up, cannot be missed. She stands out like an adorable bright Troll Doll surrounded by Orcs.
It takes over half an hour for the car to slowly scythe through the crowd. To any normal mortal, being surrounded by crazed fans shouting at you, trying to get selfies, occasionally even reaching out and grabbing you, would be pretty intimidating to say the least. But Lorna is composed and gracious throughout, frequently grinning and waving.
This is terrific.
This is also terrible! As far as I'm concerned.
And not just because the car guy in me is worried about the Merc's pristine paintwork is getting scratched and dinged or the wing mirrors and trim are getting battered, but because I am meant to get an interview with this superstar for British Asia News. The interview has gone from what was supposed to be a half-hour sit-down, to maybe 15 minutes before the show to now... well a foreboding sense that it might prove singularly impossible, to get even a few words at all with someone who is the unflinching focus of attention of thousands of adoring fans. I've been told that I can interview her after her two sets are done at 6:00pm. But it's nearly that now and the convertible's engine is still hot. It doesn't bode well.
And then she launches into her performance. And I do mean launches.
There's is nothing sedate about this septuagenarian! Her bassy voice thunders like you'd never believe of a little old lady. She growls and shouts and positively pulsates to one famous Konkani hit after another, with undiminished resolve and nary a missed note. Her performance is captivating, whether you understand the language or not, you immediately recognise the true star quality of this veteran entertainer. Like all proper old-skool performers, she's not just singing the words, she is putting her very life and soul into each syllable; you just know that that voice isn't emanating from the throat, but a deeper place of passion, pain, persistence and pleasure.
Which is understandable given this Goan legend's tumultuous career and fraught personal journey. In an astonishing parallel her life is not unlike that of another storming, surviving and cerebral diva that you'd all recognise: Tina Turner (who famously fell out with her abusive husband and musical partner Ike Turner).
Lorna Cordeiro was as much a victim as she was a creation of her former husband and mentor, the late singer-songwriter, musician, composer and music producer, Chris Perry. Having built her up into a singing star of the 70s, he forced her to rock bottom by moving out of her life and vetoing anyone from the entertainment industry from ever going anywhere near her.
For over two decades she struggled through depression, turning to alcohol and working at a dentist surgery to survive, having quit music altogether. Remember this was someone who'd been singing professionally since childhood.
And then finally in the 90s she was cajoled out of reclusion and back on stage. Since then it's been a rejuvenated blur of glory. A movie has been made based on her life and she has been touring around the world singing in Europe, America and the Middle East. This late in her life she's found a second wind and is riding higher than ever. And she's clearly determined to give it her all.
Watching her powerful performance now I'm convinced she'll frankly be too exhausted to talk to us after she finishes on stage. However the British Asia News team is nothing if not tenacious and lead reporter Kevin Augustine is trying every trick in the book to steal us some time with the star. He's on a charm offensive, breaking down one barrier at a time, and we find ourselves osmotically moving from the crowd to behind the arena, to into the back stage pit, to into the rest area, and then essentially right next to her dressing room!
We see her come off stage between sets. We think this might be our chance. However we're vying for attention against many others. And as for Lorna, you'd think she be struggling, but she is being pulled left and right for snatched selfies and hearty congratulations. Amazingly she's soaking it up, feeding off it, happy to oblige, appearing genuinely grateful at the adulation. She barely falters, but she does need a break and a costume change, and sustenance.
Kevin persists, the rest of the team stands by, finally her people tell him - you can have two minutes and three questions maximum. I strike a red pen through my list of questions and whittle them down to a four - I'm going to try to squeeze an extra one in for luck! And with so little time, we won't be able to set up any equipment, winging it with phones and recorders instead.
Suddenly we're in, callously interrupting her in mid-dessert. Kevin clears the path and I jump in, before she even has time to think twice, screaming questions at her and trying to make myself audible above the still in effect stage concert. To my relief she is typically receptive, attentive if taken aback, but resolutely responsive and eager.
I ask about how she is still able to muster so much verve and vigour during her performance and she confirms that being on stage gives her an amazing boost of energy. And how about that welcome? 'How much does London love you?'
Shazad with Lorna
Even as she sits cradling her plate of fruit, you can suddenly feel that she's recalling the reception and revelling in it. It seems to reverb through her. She admits to being overwhelmed by the love and affection that she receives, not just today but everywhere in the world she performs. Here and now, through us, she promises her fans: 'I will not stop singing, till I die!' Poignant given her 23-year break from performing.
A couple of more questions and we're done. We're out of there. Mission accomplished. And whilst we don't quite actually hit high-fives, we're all feeling them. I frantically play back my sound recorder and then immediately slingshot from elation to devastation.
Trying to record an interview behind a live stage, whilst a support band does a medley of Queen's greatest hits, belting out through a gazillion watt sound system, proved an interview too far for my trusty little device. The interference from all the electronics overwhelmed it and I all I got was noise and crackle. Note to self, if you go up against 'We Will Rock You,' you will lose. Every. Single. Time.
Video: Brief conversation with Lorna
Noticing me sorrowfully shaking my head, the team turn to their smart phones - and bless those clever little boxes, they seemed to have picked up something somehow.
Frankly though a handful of questions in a couple of minutes is never going do justice to the incredible life of this extraordinarily resilient woman who is frankly an inspiration to all those who behold her aura. I still want that half hour sit down with the Nightingale of Goa - maybe at next year's Goan Festival then. Watch this space!
Watch exclusive video:Ravi Vaz speaks to British Asia News
Bella Fernandes, PR, Social Director Bella Fernandes Speaks:
The culture of Goa is reproduced. Clear sky, Goa weather, open grounds, good food & above all
good music. Lorna was marvelous. God bless the organisers.
Good program. Could have organised better, but no complaints. If you could have introduced Lorna little early, would have been real fun. Overall good event, waiting for next year