Neil D’Cruz, 40, got into music when he was nine. Considering his background, this is neither remarkable nor surprising. He is from Carmana, a music-loving village in South Goa. His parents often played Beatles and Boney M. at home. His older friends were guitarists. His family parties involved song and dance. Neil mightn’t have escaped the influence of music even if he had wanted to.
Music, he says, has helped him express love, loss, happiness and heartbreak. He believes it can help society be rid of violence. He wrote his first single, ‘Together as One’, two years ago in response to spurts of communal violence in the country. The song, released this May, is an appeal for a safer and more equal world.
“I wanted my first original to be a song that make people feel connected and inspired to change the world,” he says, “Religion is the biggest divide and the future is in the hands of our young ones.”
It is perhaps why he has been teaching school children music for over a decade at Vidya Vikas Academy Margao.
Two years ago, he launched ‘Uncut Diamonds’, a project to promote Goa’s talented young musicians. He posts videos of their performances on Facebook and selects some of them for live concerts. “The concerts we did so far got about 4,000 spectators from Goa. And, the videos also get thousands of views.”
Neil has completed a course in vocals from Rock School, Trinity College London. At 18, he became a professional musician. Yet it took him two decades to release his first original song. “I was a school teacher by day and in the evenings, I used to perform in many gigs. So, I hardly had the time to create my own music. The lockdown has given me time.”
Neil’s second single, ‘Thank You Mama’, was out last month. He has a few more songs ready for recording. “I’d like to write more music. Some day, I’d like to have my own concert. Most of all, I want to encourage the younger generation,” he says.