“Cham Cham” is the sound that ankle bells (called ghungroo or payal in Hindi/Urdu) make. In songs, you might here a singer say “cham cham!” as a way of encouraging and celebrating the dancer as they move their feet to the rhythm. At the time I was writing this song, I was trying to process and release these intense feelings of self-doubt. I kept thinking about the ghungroo and how by wearing them, a person is calling attention to themselves and has to be unapologetic and vulnerable. Like playing a musical instrument, wearing and dancing with the ghungroo makes a person part of something bigger than themselves – they become an influence on the things and people around them through the rhythm and vibrations that they exude with every step. In that season of self-doubt, this idea was a moment of clarity for me to release my anxieties about sharing my voice with the world.
Our new president and his advisers want to silence indigenous people, people of color, the LGBTQI community, women, Muslims, and the list goes on. Now more than ever, it’s important for us to lift our voices and share our stories, even if there are those who want to discourage us from doing so. In the face of intimidation, we should wear our proverbial ghungroo proudly, keep our feet moving and keep making noise…cham cham!
Music written & performed by Saira Raza
Recorded at Red Bull Music Academy Bass Camp at Bonnaroo, June 2016
Released February 3, 2017