Brabim Sherma: A man popularising Limbu music commercially    

Brabim Sherma

Nepal is home to different ethnic groups and Limbu ethnic group is one among them. Each ethnic group has their way of expression and lifestyle and music plays an important role in their life. Traditional folk music represents various ceremonies and events in the lifetime demonstrating their unique identity.

Singer Brabim Sherma, from the Limbu community, is known for his contribution to popularising Limbu music commercially.

It has been two decades since he started his singing career professionally. When he released his debut album Chesung in 2003, the Limbu music industry had not become commercial. But now things have changed. Currently, the Limbu music industry is thriving and more than 150 singers make a living by singing Limbu songs.

Brabim Sherma, who hails from Panchthar, Eastern Nepal, is highly credited for the commercial growth of the Limbu music industry. So far, Sherma has recorded nine albums. He has already sung around 100 Limbu songs. His religious songs are also equally popular among the listeners. 

Out of the box

Brabim Sherma

Sherma began singing just for the sake of becoming a singer. At that time, he did not realise he would make such a significant contribution to the industry. Listening to the songs of Bhagat Subba, a popular singer of the Limbu music industry, inspired Sherma to pursue his career as a singer.    

In 2016, when Sherma released his song Nurikang Waye Mimjime, Limbu music reached new heights. The song gained widespread popularity within the Limbu community across various countries. Moreover, it was also well-received by the non-Limbu community. As of writing this piece, the song has garnered over 200,000 views.

“Earlier, only the aged people used to listen to Limbu music, but the experiment I made with the lyrics and composition in Limbu music even garnered the attention of young generations,” says Sherma to Onlinekhabar

Previously, Limbu songs used to be about religious context, life’s struggles, social injustice and revolution, but Sherma says he went out of the box and wrote romantic Limbu songs. In part of composition too he employed modern arrangements that were accompanied by modern instruments. Those experiments done by Sherma helped Limbu music to grow commercially.    

The factor that propelled Sherma to experiment with Limbu music was he was tired of listening to and doing the same kind of music. “I wanted to stand out by creating something new, so I took a risk and did whatever was possible,” says Brabim Sherma. “Fortunately, it all went well.”   

Sherma also wanted the Limbu song to be played in pubs and clubs where the listeners could dance to it.

Going global

Brabim Sherma

He recalls that his experiments with Limbu music received mixed reviews. The general public was happy with his music but people within the Limbu music industry commented that Sherman’s experiment with Limbu music could pose a risk to Limbu culture. However, with the success of Sherman, such comments vanished.  

Today, Shermas has thousands of fans in different parts of the world. He has done musical shows in the UK, Bahrain, Israel, Malaysia, South Korea, Dubai, Qatar and more. In a year, for almost five to six months, Sherman gets occupied with musical tours and for the rest of the months, he works in his studio. 

Many other singers like Sherman, representing the Limbu music industry are doing national and international shows.

Talking about the growth of Limbu music as an industry, Sherman says that the number of singers in Limbu music is increasing remarkably. There are also some singing competitions of Limbu music where around 500-600 participants participate annually. 

“Even people from the non-Limbu community are showing interest in Limbu music. They are also recording Limbu songs,” says Sherman.  

Sherman is hopeful about the future growth of the Limbu music. 

Challenges ahead

Modern Limbu music is experiencing significant growth; however, Sherma also expresses concern about its traditional folk aspect. Currently, there are only a few singers who perform traditional Limbu folk songs, which worries Sherma.

“A lot of people are practising modern Limbu music, but its roots, which is the folk Limbu music should also get equal priority,” says Sherman. “If the folk side is compromised, it can impede the overall growth of Limbu music.”

To all the aspiring musicians who want to make their career in Limbu music, Sherman asks them to be well aware of the folk Limbu music as well.   

To promote folk Limbu music, Sherman is working on a project called Hakpari Laye, where the songs would have 20 different editions. It will be released within two months. 

“Folk music is not just music but our identity,” he says.  

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Prasun Sangroula is an Onlinekhabar correspondent, mainly covering arts, society and sports.

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