Never Too Late: Arnab Sengupta’s Music is Right on Time
The inestimable Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, he who conceived of and chronicled the high jinks of that ingenious gentleman of De La Mancha, is said to have been well into middle age when he first took up the pen as an author.
By the time he was 58 he had wrought part the first, and by the time he was 68 he had wrought part the second, of one of the world’s most acclaimed—if not single greatest—novels of all time, Don Quixote.
Arnab Sengupta was well into his early 30s when he seemingly abruptly, although it was all part of an established pattern dating back to some of his most memorable experiences, quit his job as a software engineer and heeded the calling within himself to become a vocalist and, by extension, a musician.
With even a modicum of success as that encountered by his well known ‘counterpart’, of sorts, from the Middle Ages, he will have exceeded all expectations.
Including his own.
“They knew that I would do that; it was just a matter of time,” Sengupta said about the reaction of his friends and family to his dramatic switch in vocation. “I was building up to this change. It was not a drastic change. I had planned for this transition. And, they all knew that I should be better off as a full-time musician than as a software engineer. I could contribute more to society and I could self actualize better by being a musician than as a software engineer or programmer.”
As a singer, songwriter, composer, and producer who has released three solo albums (including January’s Leap of Faith), Sengupta is certainly established as a sound recording artist. Moreover, he is also a vocalist teacher and a session musician, as well. He has moved from his native India to the land down under (Australia). His expansion from a vocalist to one who also plays guitar and, more recently, jazz piano, is a progression befitting of the most accomplished in his profession—the ability to translate the expression of music from one instrument to another.
But his sojourn into the realm of music began in, and likely was unalterably shaped by, some of his earliest exposures to the arts in India.
“In all stages of my life I had either a band to play with or had lots of involvement with western music,” Sengupta said. “So, that was a natural inclination and I knew very well that I would want to become a full time musician or have something to do with music.”
In India, his parents were avid enthusiasts of music, art, and literature. One of his aunts was a “classic Indian classical singer,” he revealed. He was also exposed to Occidental music early on, and grew up singing the songs of Bob Dylan, for example, early in his formal educational career.
But there was one fact he could not escape—until much later in life. His initial vocation as a software engineer was somewhat predictable, simply based on his physical location.
“I had to take it up for livelihood,” Sengupta explained. “I grew up in an industrial town. Everybody was doing that. And, there were only two options. Either you do engineering and become an engineer in different fields, or you take up medical science and then become a doctor. There was no benchmark or any way to look up anybody who had done anything in western music. It was not even a remote possibility that you could go on to have a career in western music.”
Sengupta initially quit his job as an engineer in 2007 when he traveled to Boston to study at Berklee College of Music. Although he only stayed for the fall semester due to issues in his personal life, his experience left him more convinced than ever that he would one day pursue his goal of becoming a professional musician and vocalist.
“What I really took from there was definitely some of the courses,” the vocalist said. “The way they teach ear training; the way they teach arrangements. There was a basic level of fundamental developments for music progress. They really do a good job in what they teach—especially the ear training course.”
Thus, when the conditions became favorable for him to leave his software position and resume his passion for music professionally in 2016, he jumped at the chance and hasn’t looked back.
He’s recorded three albums since then, and is currently taking up jazz piano, which will likely be the epicenter of a planned fourth album. Moreover, Sengupta has his sights set on playing live.
“Since the last many years I’ve been studying piano—precisely, jazz piano,” Sengupta proclaimed. “Right now my aim is to write more songs as a piano singer. So, I’m going in that direction.”