About this submission

This soundscape of a screenplay depicts a creative awakening as Olivia turns her distress and anxiety about her current situation into her song and, in turn, stepping into the life of her dreams as an emerging singer-songwriter in New York's world music scene.

"This too shall pass, this too shall pass, this too shall pass, this too shall pass," Olivia incessantly repeats to herself to calm her anxiety as she pops an anti-anxiety pill in her mouth. [sound of pill box popping open]

[A loud train passes and shakes her apartment located in a building close to a subway station]

Fear clouds her mind as her brain tries to process the recent happenings.

Her break-up with the love of her life and his angry words, "A woman who is not subservient to a man is a narcissist. You only love yourself and your dreams. You deserve to remain alone for the rest of your life."

She remembers a moment from her 11th birthday when her father whispered in her ears, "You have only one life to live; do not waste it on a man who may not be loyal to you. Instead, follow your heart and live your dreams!"

She sits on an easy chair near the windowsill and sees the commotion on the street her life in the past 12 years. [The window is shut, and the traffic sounds are sealed]

She recalls her journey from a reciter for a local radio station in Karachi; she made her way into the world music scene in New York City after her graduation in Sound Design from NYC.

Then, her father's father comes to her mind as she had rushed him to the Emergency in a hospital in Pakistan. She had said to him, "The society is harsh towards women following their dreams. I don't know what I would do without you, dad. I don't have anything else to hold on to…."

Her father's words come to her mind, "You have your musical talent to hold on to…show the world what you are made of. Don't worry about me! Go back to New York!"

A truck passing the street is painted in multi-colored hippie style. The graffiti on the truck says, "The Obstacle is the Path. Let Love uplift you and place you on your life's true purpose."

She starts to scribble a new song in her notepad and singing along…

The song begins:
Ishq ki raah, raah hai apni
Jo chaley woh, woh ho malangi

The Path of love is a path of its own kind,
Whoever dares to walk this Path becomes a dervish.

Hum huey bohat, bohat paraishan
Ishq mein payee bulandi

Life made us very, very distressed, but
Love uplifted me to new heights.

Calgary, AB, Canada
"Staying rooted within traditional forms and honoring those while also bringing in experimentation, Shumaila Hemani sings Sufi epics in South Asian Sufi tradition compellingly, says Rebecca Bruton from the New Works Calgary. Praised for enriching Edmonton by Edmonton Journal (2015), Hemani is locally celebrated for her “mesmerizing” and “emotionally nerve-striking” music that carries “vocal virtuosity,” expressing “radically different inner existential visions” (Calgary Herald, 2015). Shumaila Hemani, Ph.D. in Music from the University of Alberta and Former Music Faculty, Semester at Sea, Spring 2020 voyage, is an Alberta-based Sufi singer-songwriter, acousmatic composer, sing-style poet, spoken word artist, and traditional performer. Her composition: Perils of Heavy Rainfall, received a Second Prize at the Listening During COVID contest by the Canadian Association of Sonic Ecology (CASE). The pioneering Canadian soundscape composer Hildegard Westerkamp applauded her for beautifully taking the listeners to an immersive world of different music, chanting, and drones. Hemani has performed at the FACTOR-funded International Women’s Day (2021) Femme Wave Festival (2019) and the World Odyssey (2020) and presented virtual showcases for the Alberta Musical Theatre’s A World of Stories (2020), CJSW’s A Drop and the Turning (2021), and the Starlite Spotlight Sessions (2021), CJSR’s From Here We Go Sublime (2021). Her acousmatic compositions have been curated at the University of Alberta as sound installations and Society for Ethnomusicology’s R.L. Stevenson Prize (2016), Sounding Board (2020), and Annual Concert (2020). Once upon a time in Kobe, Japan, commissioned by The New Music Edmonton and published in their No Normal Podcast, Episode 5 (2021) reflects Hemani’s versatility as a music composer. Hemani’s original: Anticipating was featured in the Cross-Canada tour for Suicide Prevention Awareness and Hope (2020) has been critically acclaimed for expressing “a visceral emotionality and a deep musicality expertly ushering listeners into a place of contemplation and consideration” (John Wright at Radio Airplay, 2020). Living with Purpose was #1 on Ethnocloud’s world music charts since January 2020 to Nov 2020 and will be published in Alberta’s literary feminist magazine: New Forum (June 2021). Her traditional vocal performance crosses gender boundaries while singing Pakistani songs of Muslim heritage, which men typically perform. Her upcoming album is based around the concept of supplication and saint worship. These practices are braced by many religious cultures yet still resisted by mainstream orthodoxies who deem them as superstitious and illegitimate. Her musical poetry works to decolonize intercultural conversations by resisting cultural essentialism and binary mindset. Supported by the Cultural Diversity Award, Hemani will release her album trilogy: Awakening and Mannat, in 2021. Currently, Hemani is RBC’s Emerging Sounding Artist hosted by the Nina Hoggart Arts Gallery, Edmonton where she would work with an intelligent group of 6 visual artists with developmental disabilities to curate new sound artworks in Spring/Summer of 2021. more...

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