Saturday, April 23, 2011

StEvEn SaMuEl....

Watch Steven Samuel perform on stage and you might think the little drum kit is playing itself. Look closely and you find a little drummer, at times standing and playing, as he can’t reach all the drum pads otherwise. All of four and a half years old, Steven’s latest feat has been to give a solo drum concert before a 20,000 strong crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai, with none other than the legend himself - Sivamani. In fact Sivamani is so fond of his protege that he invites him to perform on many of his concerts. They now live opposite each other in Chennai, much to Steven’s excitement.

For Steven, music obviously runs in the family, for he is the nephew of keyboard maestro Stephen Devassy. Young Steven started experimenting on the drums when he was just two, and noone still knows how he gets the beats right, least of all his dad, Samuel Devassy, a sound engineer and Stephen’s elder brother. “Whatever he listens to, he imitates, and does it perfectly,” says Samuel. Steven began by drumming on vessels and other toys, when he was just two years old. Noticing his talent, his father got him a junior drum kit on which Steven displayed exceptional talent. His parents say that he is quite extraordinary in that he prefers to watch videos of Sivamani or Stephen performing to getting himself into trouble like usual four-year-olds. “When he is not watching cartoons, he practises. A psychologist has approached us now, who wants to study him and understand how he does it,” says Samuel.

The imitation happens to such an extent that what Steven plays has an Indian flavour to it, similar to Sivamani’s. Steven has been accompanying the choir in the church for quite a while and has started giving solo concerts at his school, Chinmaya Vidyalaya. Samuel takes Steven and his little sister Stephanie to all the concerts of Stephen and Sivamani in Chennai. “They both like Stephen more than me, I think. They hang around him when he is here and sits with him when he practises. It was Stephen who named them both,” says Samuel. Little Stephanie has also started trying her hands at the guitar. And no, they are not the only prodigies in the family, there are more. Abel, son of Biju Solomon, Stephen’s elder sister, is an accomplished keyboard player, following the footsteps of his illustrious uncle. 

Samuel proposes to enroll Steven and Stephanie in piano classes when they turn five. “I don’t have any problem if they choose music as their career. I just want to provide them with the right equipment and exposure they require,” says Samuel.

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