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Jose Neil Gomes

The Musical Maestro

Jose Neil Gomes, order 28, troche is a master of more than 20 instruments. Name it and he will amaze you with his talent. Well-known in India and worldwide, find this player from Benaulim is currently based in Mumbai. Dr. Charlane Pereira e Rebello met up recently with this Goan maestro. Here is her report.

It may surprise you to learn that as a young boy, Jose Neil Gomes was not particularly fond of the violin. Surprising because today, in addition to playing the violin, he also excels at the

viola, cello, double bass, guitar, piano, mandolin, clarinet, flute, saxophone, trumpet, melodica, harmonica, didgeridoo, kalimba, glockenspiel, drums, and several others.  Truly an extraordinary feat! Although no one else in his family is musically inclined, he plays these instruments with equal ease and has got a great voice to boot.

At the age of 13, Gomes joined the Saligao Seminary and later Rachol Seminary. He says, “I learnt discipline at the seminary.” He gave up these studies, however, to explore different opportunities.

While studying journalism in St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, he was exposed to different genres of music, and soon realized that this was his calling in life.

He has been a part of many bands and troupes, including Sufi artist Kailash Kher’s Kailasa, vocalist Sunidhi Chauhan troupe, A R Rahman, among others.

His shows have taken him to United States, United Kingdom, South America, Canada, Africa, South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Holland and other places. Gomes has played at the Oslo World Music Festival, CNE Toronto Music Festival, Chutney Festival (Jamaica), Sufi Festival (Dubai), and many more.

He has been to almost every city in India for his shows and concerts. He says, “I have been to Delhi at least 150 times, in the past 4 years.” Among some of his Indian shows include NH7, Jaipur Folk Music Festival and Goa Chitra’s Retrospective Nites.

He has volunteered quite a few times at events organized for the underprivileged in Mumbai and other places. He says, “I had learnt the basics from Xavier Noronha prior to joining the seminary.”

With plans of launching a series of 9 albums, each with 9 songs, he is working on a songwriting project called ‘Grass is Green’.

About the current music scene in Goa, he says, “I have not been a part of it. So, I can’t say much. But I hope that it grows up for the better, especially with the influx of outsiders.”

Music, Gomes says, “is the most important part of my life.”

“There isn’t a single better feeling than being on stage. Nothing comes close to that feeling,” continues Gomes.

His dad Francis, a businessman, has been his support and inspiration.

With a hectic schedule keeping him on his toes, Gomes says, “During season time, (September to May) I barely sleep for 4 or 5 hours. The rest of the time is spent in the studio, stage, or the airport.”

I asked him about his awards and he says, “I keep a low profile. I don’t promote myself online to claim for awards.”

He continues, “There is so much more to achieve and discover about oneself, and the universe. Nothing is ever enough.”

Gomes has travelled the world to explore folk music and traditional instruments. He wants to help revive instruments that are in danger of extinction.

On a serious note, he advises, “Talking about your passion is passé. It is time to DO what you like doing. Beat the odds. Take one day at a time. Nothing can stop you from achieving your dreams – neither excuses nor people.”