We mourn the demise of Norden Tenzing – one of the greatest Nepali musicians of all time. Norden Tenzing – this name may not register with the modern day Nepali Music fans, but to those who understand legacy and roots, he holds the most significant place. He transformed Nepali music, and heralded a change in musical taste and content.
Norden Tenzing is no longer in this world with us today as he took his final breath at Aldershot, UK at the age of 69 on 4th of August. Today, we remember him and also the contribution of his music to our lives and by extension, to the greater world.
Roots in Kurseong
The founder of one of the best Nepali musical bands – The Himalayan Band, Norden was born in Kurseong. Though he started singing little late, the seeds of music had got planted in his mind at a very young age of 10-12. It was through that age that he would visit his grandparents, where the music icons like Amber Gurung, Gopal Yonzone, Shanti Thatal, Ranjit Gazmer were frequent visitors. Though he (and other children) weren’t allowed to enter the room where the legends would play music and sing, he would hear them from another room. It was there where he got deeply inspired into music.
No wonder he always considered them his as his source of inspiration.
His life had him travel places. He travelled to Illam, then to Katihar, then to Jogbani, Jogbani to Dharan, Dharan to Barackpore, Barackpore to Hong Kong and then from Hong Kong finally to UK in 1971. Though he always had this passion for music, his actual rendezvous with music started when he was a soldier at the British Army.
Life as a Soldier Singer
The Himalayan Band was formed when Norden met some likeminded people in the army who would play instruments. They started playing together as a band after buying second hand instruments from Hong Kong. It was Norden who named the band. The name because no matter where and how they were, their heart always remained deeply rooted in the Himalayas.
The band would perform at every possible occasion in the regiment, mainly doing covers. It was only when the BFBS radio called them to come with an original song for recording that they recorded the song “Gajalu le Akhai Chopney”, which originally belonged to Norden’s friend Late Arun Thapa. The song became an instant hit and the band started receiving love and recognition widely. The fame motivated Norden to push for more original content.
Since that day, Norden never looked back. He went on bringing songs that would be received with love by all, and he became a sensation. Unfortunately, while everything was going well, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. He fought it hard and well, and never gave up on his love for music.
Love for Darjeeling
As much as he loved music, he also loved his hometown, Darjeeling. Once in an interview he was asked about the best moments in his life. He didn’t think twice to say that it was performing at Gangtok with the native band of Darjeeling, The Darjeeling Carnival.
He was also asked in the same interview about the awards and honour he had received, to which he mentioned few honours that he was given by different organisations, but most of all, he recognised the love from the people of his hometown Darjeeling as always to be the highest honour for him.
As he had lived two lives, one that of a soldier and another one of an artist, he always had two sides of him open for the people. While a lot of them knew him for his British army designation, when he came back to Darjeeling he was simply greeted as Norden Daju, the artist, the singer, what he regarded as one of the best accomplishments of his life. It was this love for his place that resonated in the emotions of his songs.
As a soldier in the British army living miles away from home, his songs were indeed influenced by the emotion of missing the hills, or some long lost love he had left behind in the same hills or maybe the songs that rusty winds would sing to the bushes of the tea back home.
Norden and His family
Norden Tenzing had a very happy family. He had immense support from his wife, who was an English lady, and his children. He would play them his tunes, ask for feedback. He however had some bitter experiences with some of his friends, who for their own benefit, compromised with his trust and allegedly traded on his compositions. But he didn’t have any hatred in him.
His song “Musu Musu Haasi Dew” was in fact picked up for a Bollywood song that actually went on to become very popular. And all he had to say about it was that he would feel happier if his name was mentioned somewhere as the original composer of the song, but then he was fine with it.
Adieu Dear Norden Daju
As we bid him farewell, we keep with us his name as the vocalist of one of the finest Nepali Bands, the most legendary of all. We keep with ourselves his songs, his words and the feelings that they brought to us. While some person in a distant land would still hear “Kaha Timro Mayalu lai Chadi Rakhew” while missing home, some other person would try to sing the cover of “Gajalu le aankhai chopney”. These songs are forever here to stay. The songs shall live till the day we have the last Dewsi Band performing.
Well for me, I would always try to find my solace in “Farki Heray”.