Meghalaya’s First ‘Female’ Solo Artist in Western Music Speaks

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Assembling the puzzle of life piece by piece, Gwyneth Alicia Mawlong, after her last release of “Am I”, an extended play (EP) in September 2022, expresses her innermost thoughts. Engaging with Sunday Shillong in a one-on-one, Mawlong reveals what makes her the person/artist she is today. Excerpts from the interview:

Your debut album ‘Am I’ leaves space for the audience to fill in the blanks. What was your intention in naming it that?

The full form of the title track is ‘Am I’ (What You’re Looking For).

I felt it was too long for a song title, so I left it to ‘Am I’ which leaves room for limitless possibilities for self-discovery and expression.

Tell us about your musical journey.

The first time I took the stage with my guitar was at Loreto Convent Hall in 1981. The song I chose to perform was “Where do you go to my lovely” by Peter Sarstedt. It’s an adult-themed song. In the middle of the song, Mother Superior had the curtain closed on me to my surprise. I was 13 years old. It was a defining moment for me.

It’s been a long road for me, spanning over three decades of endless musical adventures and roller coasters. It is truly a wonderful feeling to reach this point of fulfillment and completion with the release of my debut EP ‘Am I’. I wrote most of the songs that are on the EP, in my early twenties. The only last piece is “Letter to us” written during the start of the pandemic in 2020 which I finished in February 2022.

In your private circles, you have been a renowned musician. What was the moment that pushed you to go public?

I don’t believe in labels. I don’t believe in living your life in a label box. At the time, the term “coming out” did not exist. Throughout my life, looking back, I constantly appreciate the incredible relationships I had with men and women, who encouraged me to embrace my vocation for music and helped me overcome many challenges, grief and pain, loneliness and grief. After all that, I finally felt ready.

It is said that when the world is in despair, art through music, books, poetry and prose has immense healing powers. What are your thoughts?

After going through traumatic experiences as a child and young adult, I found my refuge in music and poetry. These art forms have saved, healed and restored my spirit and strength from time to time.

What message would you like to convey to other female artists?

My message is simple – ‘keep going, until you are satisfied…’

—end of interview—

Paving the way for many other women to follow suit, Mawlong threads rhythmic blends into fine chords showcasing talent and courage.

The artist, Gwyneth Alicia Mawlong co-founded the first all-female band in Shillong, which was called “Mermaid” and was its vocalist and bass player. She also worked as a Radio Jockey (RJ) on Shillong’s First Channel FM (Radio Ooh LaLa) in 2007-2008. Apart from this, she also initiated and hosted an exclusive music event called ‘Divas night’ which showcased the musical talent and creativity of female artists from Shillong and beyond from 2002 to 2006.

Interviewed by Esha Chaudhuri

AM I

Lyrics and Music – Gwyneth Mawlong

I came to tell you this / I have reasons that just can’t be missed

I have bruises on my back / I have nothing but my living fact

I have mountains to climb / I have milestones behind

I’m a steady woman – show / I wear my shining armor wherever I go

** I have sun on my shoulders when I need to feel warm

I have the moon under my pillow / when I reach dawn

CHO: And I lose the pain I felt so long ago

And I live again / I don’t remember

The raging battlefields / the madness of war

I even have the score… so tell me tell me

Am I what you are looking for?

And I won’t go back / I don’t need to pretend

Yeah I know what people can do / rely on accusations

When they can’t have you

** I can be the highest mountain / that can touch your sky

I can be the longest river that can never run dry

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