Kabir Suman (born 1949), is a Kolkata-based modern Bengali singer-songwriter, guitarist, poet, journalist and TV presenter. He changed his name from Suman Chattopadhaya to Kabir Suman (Bangla: কবীর সুমন) when he became a Muslim. He shot to fame in the 1990s with albums such as Tomake Chai (Bangla: তোমাকে চাই I Want You) and Boshe Anko (Bangla: বসে আঁকো Sit-and-Draw Contest).
His contemporary urban, socially conscious songs draw upon both Bengali adhunik (modern) and Western folk and protest music. His work has been a major influence in the development of the Bengali songs, which has influenced bands like Chandrabindoo, and has grown to become a major movement in contemporary Bengali music. Most of his songs are played solo with just a synthesiser or a guitar. Like many Bengali singers, Suman has also recorded albums of Rabindra Sangeet (Songs of Rabindranath Tagore), starting in the late-1990s.
Suman's primary training was in Indian classical music and Rabindra Sangeet, and he picked up Western folk forms while living abroad. From 1975 to 1989 he worked as a broadcast journalist working overseas, living in Germany, where he worked for German International Radio, and in the United States, where he worked for Voice of America's Bengali language service. He finished his second contract with German International Radio in 1989, and returned to Kolkata. He released his first album, Tomake Chai, in 1992. Since then he has released over ten albums, his most recent one being Nandigram in 2007.
Political views and personal life
Along with his musical contributions, Suman is famous as a journalist and active citizen of country. He was a combat journalist in Nicaragua during Sandinista revolution and wrote a book Mukto Nicaragua (Liberated Nicaragua) on that. In beginning of his musical career, he showed some adherence with the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) but soon got disillusioned. He continued to be vocal for the rights of oppressed in various forums. In fact, today he is one of the important figures in the ongoing movement against the anti-people policies of the communist government in West Bengal. During the Godhra riots, his songs and activities appealed very successfully to mass consciousness against fundamentalism. Kabir Suman is famous for using strong language against political opponents in public functions. Suman composed several songs on the land struggle in Nandigram, which have been released as an album, Nandigram. Suman announced that the royalty for this disc will be used for support of on going lands struggle in Nandigram and elsewhere.
Kabir Suman's official website