Women Inc: Can You Eat Your Cake & Have it Too?

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Poonam Kay
Poonam Kay

 Can A Pop Singer Be a Successful Entrepreneur?

“My first performance was at Birla auditorium at the age of 5,” recalls Poonam Kay. ” I had to stand on a folding chair and sing a duet with my mother’s male duet singer, Jethalal. The song was Yeh parda hata do, zara mukhda dikha do. The event was a cultural program by the renowned dancer Gopi Krishna.”

You never can forget a childhood passion, and many years later she is a recording artist, producer and TV personality. This year she released her new album ‘Nachle Ve’ with music composed by noted Bollywood film music director Anand Raj Anand.  The album has 9 songs, two of which have been made into videos. Says Anand, ” She is a wonderful artiste. Whether it’s a dance number or a lilting melody, Poonam’s voice has an amazing quality to fit into any kind of  song. And she doesn’t just sing the words, she feels them.”

Not surprising since  she has been performing since childhood, training in classical music under the maestros Ahmed Hussain-Mohammed Hussain.  Her voice is sweet and lilting and fits the mood of  the songs, be it lively Punjabi dance music or a soft romantic ditty. Her new video was released in Mumbai and in London, and also launched in New York at a press event at Hudson Eatery.



Poonam kay with Nair Hira of Magna Publishing and composer Anand Raj Anand

Poonam Kay with Nari Hira of Magna Publishing and composer Anand Raj Anand


One Woman, Two Careers

But wait!  Poonam Kay has another avatar: she is also Poonam Khubani, successful businesswoman and savvy innovator who was chosen among the top 25 leading Women Entrepreneurs of New Jersey. As vice president of Telebrands International and the President of  International Edge, she creates award-winning commercials for her company’s products.

She may be behind the camera there but is very much front and center of the camera for her other real life role, that of pop singer! In that avatar her stage name is Poonam Kay and  she has to constantly practice, rehearse, shoot and also travel internationally.

So is it possible to have two thriving professional careers running on two separate tracks?  Can you be a successful entrepreneur and a pop singer too?  Here Poonam Kay answers five questions about balancing her two different professional careers and hitting a home run in both.


1. You must get your musical talent and voice from your mother, the singer Maya Israni. Tell us about her.

My Mom was an accomplished music and drama artist who sang and acted on All India Radio, Doordarshan/TV and performed on stage worldwide. Her music concerts were held in Bombay, Ahemdabad, Kanpur, Indore, Bhavnagar, Lucknow, Srinagar and several other cities. Internationally she performed in Dubai, Indonesia, Hongkong, Singapore, and Malaysia. Her first record was a 75rpm on HMV label! She trained under Ustaad Govind Prasad Jaipurwale.
I first remember rehearsing with my mom at the age of 5. She made me sit with the harmonium and do riyaz.

My early memory of my mother’s music was Sindhi Ladas and  gazals such as Nighaon mein tum ho, Khayalon mein tum ho, yeh janant nahi hai, to phir aur kya hai. The Sindhi Ladas included – Lai Godha, kena lathon thum pet sur sartiyun sur mara.Hik not jo rupayo, and several Kalams especially- O Ranal to bin raat mukhe vethe. My mother was a master at rendering Kalams but, her most popular number was ‘Duma Dum Mast Kalander’.




2. You have always been a playback singer – how did you decide to go the video route?

It was always my intent to do a music video because as a playback artist, people don’t get to see the full talent of an artist. But, in a music video, the audience gets to see and hear the artiste. The visual aspect actually brings the real artist into forefront for the audience. This way the artist gets to relate to its fans, v/s a fan simply listening to the artist on radio as a playback singer. Its like being behind the curtain!

The videos were done by Bollywood ace choreographers -Bosco Caesar, and  beautiful locations in Seville, and Malaga, Spain were used to bring the production value up to the highest level. Music director Anand Raj Anand scored the Punjabi dhamal music in the album. In fact, he sung a few duets with me as well which was very exciting!



3. Surprisingly you have managed to succeed in the hardnosed world of business too and have won awards for entrepreneurship, as VP of International Marketing at Telebrands. Tell us about that.

In our field of direct marketing, we make commercials for hit products such as Organic Cookware,  Ped Egg, and Pocket Hose to name a few. The award which I received was for the Pocket Hose commercial as the ‘Best commercial for the year 2014’. We’ve  won the award 2 years in a row!

4. You lead two lives – is there any conflict at all? What are the challenges?

Yes, I wear two hats- a business hat and a creative hat. The challenge is to balance both in such a way that both get maximum results. I am a very efficient time manager. Due to this fact, I have been able to strike a perfect balance between both my hats and have been successful in my creative life and my business life.

5. So would  you say women can have their cake –  and eat it too?

That’s a million dollar question  –  can women achieve it all? The answer is  – yes!  However, many factors play a part in this. Ability, drive, circumstances, opportunity, timing, capacity, destiny. All these aspects have to fall in place to make things happen. If one of them is not in sync, things won’t materialize. So, the stars have to be aligned.




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