She may still be in high school but she has a voice way beyond her years. Madina Rahman (MR) is surely set for great things in the near future and talks to The Asian Destination (TAD) about her career plans, college and Madina Music.
TAD: Are we right in assuming you’re still in high school? When did you start singing and how did you end up posting your covers on YouTube?
MR: Yes, I’m a senior, graduating in a month! I started singing when I was in 3rd grade. My best friend at the time would actually call me after school just to hear me sing. She would wait ‘til the end to let me know that that I was on speaker the whole time and her entire family was listening. I think that’s when I started to realise I had a talent. My friend Jalal who was already pretty well known on YouTube actually convinced me to make one. After my first cover, I got a lot of positive feedback and so I continued.
TAD: Going by the name of your YouTube and other social media, you’re quite proud of being Bengali? Are you Bangladesh Bengali or Indian Bengali?
MR: I’m Bangladesh Bengali. People mistake me for being Indian or try to tell me that they’re the same thing. I’m Bengali, from Bangladesh; that’s two different countries, two different languages, and two entirely different stories. Many people think of all the south-asian countries as one country; I think it’s important for people to understand the difference.
TAD: As an American-Born desi, do you find it difficult to balance your desi roots with your western surroundings?
MR: Not at all. Although, recently, I’ve been more on the Desi side. I honestly don’t even follow western TV shows anymore as much as I do Bengali. The only time I turn on the TV is every Monday and Tuesday to watch “Bhalobashar Chotushkhon” on NTV.
TAD:Your YouTube has a lot of Western covers, do you prefer singing Western music or would you also consider doing some Bengali/Hindi songs too?
MR: It’s weird because I listen and download more Bengali and Hindi songs than I do English. I guess the western music comes more naturally and easier to cover, but I hope to do a Bengali or Hindi cover very soon.
TAD: Do you or have you tried songwriting as well? Does the mix between Bengali heritage and American culture influence your taste in music or what you choose to focus on in terms of Madina Music?
MR: I think songwriting is a great way to deal with things, especially as a teenager. Whenever I feel down, I sit in my room with my guitar, a blank page and jot down any rhymes that come to me naturally from how I’m feeling at the moment. I’ve actually gotten a lot of good lyrics from it. My taste in music right now is way more Bengali than American. Whenever I hear a good Bengali song, I’m always quick to have it downloaded onto my phone. I don’t really listen to radio anymore, so I’m not really sure of American music. If anything American, it’s usually an old song that I rediscovered.
TAD: What do your parents think of you uploading your songs to YouTube? Have they been supportive?
MR: My parents are very encouraging and proud of my videos on YouTube. They’re very supportive and hope to see me make it big one day.
TAD: Would you like to pursue music as a career or do you think you’ll follow perhaps more of a traditional desi route and go onto university first?
MR: I’m definitely going to college, that’s not an option, but I will continue YouTube. If my covers take me somewhere big, I won’t hesitate to follow my dreams.
TAD: What advice would you give for other, young desi girls wanting to pursue their dreams but either lack confidence or feel pressurised by family to conform and take the more conventional route?
MR: First of all, you have to go to college no matter what! I think it’s important to have a foundation first, because in reality we’re unsure of our future. But we can be sure that we get a good education and good career. Don’t put everything else aside to pursue a passion, if you don’t have anything to fall back on. If you have a good foundation, you practically can do anything you want.
TAD: High school is an extremely impressionable time for young teens. How have people at school/in the community responded to your music, your YouTube channel and your social media? Have you come across any negativity and if so, how do you deal with it?
MR: I’m blessed to get a lot of sweet messages and positive feedback. Sometimes, girls even tell me that I’m their role model. I still think it’s crazy that people actually look up to me now and actually take the time to watch my videos. But I’m beyond grateful. I have gotten rude comments, but I just ignore it. People who waste their time to write down hateful comments or be rude shouldn’t be given any type of attention.
TAD: 5 years from now, where do you hope to be?
MR: 5 years from now, no matter what I’m doing or where I am; I just hope to be healthy and happy with my life. And of course to have made my mom proud. That’s really all I want.
Listen to Madina’s newest cover below!
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