Kathmandu: Muskan Ranabhat released her first album when she was ten. The album, Baby Muskan, included eight songs, sung over a period of a year. Even then, she was conscious about her voice, she remembers. “I ate only dal bhat and avoided junk foods while recording the album,” Ranabhat says. Her commitment paid off. She was honored at the National Award under the Social Awareness category for her song Bhaile Jastai Jhola Boki (“to carry a schoolbag like my brother”).
Long since those glory days of her childhood, Ranabhat has today grown into a much-admired singer in the Nepali music scene. She has asserted her talent in such beloved songs as Nakhojnu Malai (“please don’t seek me out”) and Chhaal (“wave”). Her recent duet with Nischal Basnet, Chatta Rumal, has garnered over 11 million views on YouTube.
After singing for such a long time, Ranabhat decided to give a shot at the third edition of Nepal Idol, the singing reality show. It was a big, important platform for her to showcase her singing talents, she says. In the show, Muskan covered songs and made them her own. She made it to the top six at the Idol. The platform has made her more confident and provided a boost to her singing career, she says.
Ranabhat had covered numerous songs before she appeared at the reality show. Shows like Nepal Idol prioritize cover songs, and with the advent of YouTube, the trend of publishing covers only seems to be growing. Ranabhat says the cover song trend is “itself not a bad trend”. “It revives beautiful, underrated songs, and gives them a new lease of life, which in turn can motivate original singers,” she said. Ranabhat’s covers of songs such as ‘Goreto ani ustai cha galli’, ‘O mero priyatam’, and ‘Mero Nepal’ at the Idol were much-admired among the judges and audiences alike.
“The platform assisted me to brand myself and I was noted by the audience,” she says. “It also helped polish my vocals.”
Ranabhat grew up in Pokhara, home to such bands as Nepathya and Kandara. Buoyed by the musical vibe of the city and following her own curiosity, she began to appear in music shows and competitions from an early age. When she was 16, she won the Big Icon, a singing competition organized by the Pokhara-based radio station Big FM, where she would later go on to work as an RJ. While winning the top prize, she left behind over 900 competitors.
“Since then, my horizon of perceiving music has completely changed,” Ranabhat said. “I started to put immense hard work into improving her singing quality.”
Ranabhat grew up in Pokhara, home to such bands as Nepathya and Kandara. Buoyed by the musical vibe of the city and following her own curiosity, she began to appear in music shows and competitions from an early age.
For Ranabhat, that horizon is still expanding. Recently, she completed her BA in music from Ratna Rajya Laxmi Campus and she now teaches music at a school CG | education campion in Kathmandu.
“It is very important to be a master of the field you choose,” she says, “and equally important to have academic knowledge too.” She is currently learning guitar, piano and harmonium.
Ranabhat appears determined to pursue a life in music and push the boundaries of her own talent and that of the Nepali music scene as well. Music, for some, may just be a pastime, something one turns to when one is bored. But for musicians, spirited musicians, each note, vibration, and beat can begin to resemble one’s own heartbeat, essential to continue one’s existence. And so it is for Ranabhat. As she puts it in her YouTube bio, “With a heartbeat, life begins. Where life begins, begins music.”