When Sydney Soulstress Rosie Henshaw was at a boarding school in India at the age of 9-years-old she picked up her first sitar. Since then she hasn’t looked back, and created a musical journey based on positive vibes and spiritual music. Having just recently touring China, Rosie is back with an intimate show at Venue 505 in Surry Hills, with guest appearance from Billie McCarthy.
We chat to Rosie about what to expect from the show, why the sitar and why she’s going into Bollywood. Margaret Tra writes.
Tell us what we can expect from your upcoming show with Billie McCarthy.
You can expect lots of sonic treats! Myself & my band "The Bees" will be in fine form, playing lots of our "Rosie & The Bees" classics from our self-titled debut album. Guitar maestro Victor Martinez will be joining me for an intimate performance of one of our original collaborations that featured on the album. I'll be busting my sitar out for a special little number, and Billie & I may or may not be doing a super special duet - you'll have to come along and find out! It's basically going be a lush sonic “partay.”
You recently did a tour in China with your band what was that like?
China was mind blowing. It was my first visit there. I loved the fact that my music (career) allowed me to explore such a mighty country. Such a strong cultural heritage with a beautiful ancient musical linage of its own. I gave myself the challenge of learning up a Chinese folk song called "Moli Hua" (Jasmine) for the tour, when I sang that in Mandarin, audiences were so genuinely wowed! I found the people in general to be so responsive to my songs & sitar playing, and my appreciation and curiosity of Chinese culture. Post shows I'd be posing for countless photos (cheese!), hugging lovely young fans, practising my dodgy Mandarin, and signing CDs, umbrellas & notepads. It really made me feel "famous"(laughs).
What is one of your earliest memory of playing the sitar, and why the sitar?
I was 9. Boarding school in India. The sitar towered over me. I felt so connected with the instrument instantaneously. It felt like a perfect fit - despite the fact that i was the same size as it! It was love at first strum! Why the sitar? Why not?
You seem to have a very cosmic and spiritual vibe that transcends into your music, were you always this way?
Aww thank you. Music and I have had such a beautiful journey. It's definitely been there from the very beginning. My mum says that I used to dance in my nappy to Aretha Franklin, and Paul Simon's 'Graceland'. As for spirituality, it has been something that I've grown into over the years. It just compliments my life-style & my musical endeavours. I also feel that sitar has to be one of the most "spiritual" instruments around! When I hold a sitar in my hands I feel a pure connection to something beyond, something cosmic! So, what I'm trying to say is that, for me, music is spiritual & cosmic & holy. It is my religion! It's been this way for as long as I can remember.
Are you working on any new projects?
Always. I've been doing some writing for my next album, and brainstorming collaborations with some amazing musicians from India who I had the privilege of performing with whilst I was in China. The dream is to get my foot into Bollywood! That would be ridiculously fun! I'm also planning up a great "world fusion" set for Parramasala festival - a festival showcasing local talents who are immersed in South Asian Arts, to be held in Parramatta 17-19th October this year. But before that, I’m quietly prepping for my next show as part of Fringe Festival at The Old 505 Theatre in Surry Hills, on 11th September. It’s going to be all unplugged. Me, my sitar, my cajon and a tabla player & an acoustic guitarist. It's going to be sublime.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?
Damn. This is hard. Too many people. I'd love to do a track with Yukimi Nagano from Little Dragon! I just love the tone of her voice, her style of singing/writing and she's got to be the coolest chick around! Plus I love that she's half Japanese. I've toured Japan many times & I speak/sing in Japanese too, so I think we could do a wicked English/日本語 collaboration! It would blow my mind! I'm hoping I come up on her radar one day and we can just JAM!
What Stimulates Your Soul?
Soul music fills my soul - bit of Miss Badu, Mr. Anthony Hamilton, India Arie, Music Soulchild, Joss Stone etc etc. But I also love listening to instrumental jazz. Think Coltrane, Davis, Chet Baker, Chick Corea, Marcus Miller etc. Oh and I absolutely love Qawwali music too. It's basically Indian/south Asian "gospel music" (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is a maestro!). Music in general is ridiculously soul stimulating! It's a universal language to the soul.
Want to hear more see more?
Jump onto Rosie's website.
Purchase tickets here to see Rosie perform at Venue 505.