'Music teaches you resilience in an ever-changing world'

Rupanjana Dutta Tuesday 17th September 2019 15:27 EDT

Many of you may remember Pallab Sarker from his days helping Labour cabinet ministers like Tony McNulty connect with the community, before starting his successful PR firm Apollo Strategic Communications. From Walthamstow, East London, Sarker is also an indie acoustic singer-songwriter who performed at the Global Teacher Prize Concert in Dubai, along side Rita Ora, Liam Payne and Little Mix. Indie is music produced independently from commercial record labels- a process that may include an autonomous, do-it-yourself approach to recording and publishing music.

Since the release of his debut album 'Grey Day', Sarker's music took flight on underground college radio stations in the USA, receiving critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. He is currently writing his follow up solo album, once again choosing to record locally, tapping into the borough of Walthamstow’s talented and eclectic music scene.

Sarker was involved with the Labour government, when it was in power. He was a press adviser to various cabinet ministers, including Alan Johnson, Jacqui Smith, Tony McNulty and gradually he started combining both work and music. He performed at a gig for Children in Need with the then Home Secretary Tony McNulty. “I was always combining my work with music. I was even the government's press adviser for Prince Andrew. I worked with various trade ministers and even went to India,” Sarker told Asian Voice.

Around 2010, he left his career as a civil servant, and created a PR company Apollo Strategic Communications and started doing business with connections he built over the years, including Silicon valley companies and think tank foundations.

Sarker's parents, who are Bengali Hindus originally from Bangladesh, came to Britain in the 1970s. Originally they lived in a one-bed room apartment in London, while his father worked at Thomas Cook. But soon they moved to Peterborough and the company helped his father to buy a nice big family home, where Sarker was born and raised.

Speaking to the newsweekly, Sarker said, “When I was growing up there were only seven Bengali families in Peterborough. So they were the family my parents knew away from home. My school was essentially white, full of English kids. I was the first Asian in my secondary school, which was a selective institution and after that I went to University of York. Rock music was quite huge then. I listened to a lot of indie music and I formed a band. After university I moved to London, but we still did gigs everywhere. We toured around and we did quite good.”

His parents like most Asian parents could not take a chance and let Sarker persue his career in music. “Our parents gave up their lives in Bangladesh and India to come and settle here. So they wanted me to be successful. Education was very important. But having said that, my mum was a very good musician herself. 

“But then music is not something that you suddenly get interested in. People seem to like it from childhood, like I did. My mum said ever since I was three year old, I would be fascinated with a guitar. My parents could not afford a formal guitar lesson, so I taught myself. I was always passionate about music and wrote songs. My parents were traditional, but now they are extremely supportive of my music.”

Sarker however believes that Asian parents are now changing- a long waited transformation. People have realised that there are a number of career options available. With the world moving so fast, and AI taking over jobs, he insists that arts are important for career growth. “Music teaches you resilience,” he added. “Performing on stage also teaches you confidence. Getting on with different cultures- this is what the world is about now.”

Pallab is also an Artist in Residence, an initiative of school teacher Andria Zafirakou to bring artists into schools that are located in deprived London communities. He attends schools, where he talks about mental health and how music improves prospects in life and various other subjects, encouraging Asian children to embrace music and push boundaries beyond studies.

For more information, please see: www.pallabsarker.com

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