From poverty to stardom: How the voice of a migrant worker in Oman won hearts

24 Feb 2019
POSTED BY Y Magazine

Raju Rasali’s love affair with music began at a young age when he quit school and ran away from his house to pursue a singing career.



After immense hard work, the ambitious young singer-songwriter released his first album. Little did he know it would also be his last.

His dream of stardom was shattered when his album failed to sell and, instead of India’s glitzy concert halls, Raju’s voice was heard only in the noisy labour camps of Jabal Al Akhdar.

“The album didn’t turn out the way I wanted. I failed,” Raju said.

The money he was earning wasn’t enough to feed his family. “If it continued, my wife and children would have starved from hunger.”

When he ran out of money and options, Raju came to Oman and worked as a mason for a few months before getting a job as a watchman.

But life gave Raju another chance when an administrator in his company saw a poster for a singing competition organized by international money transfer organization, Xpress Money.

‘Dil Ki Awaaz’ (The Voice of the Heart), a platform for migrant workers in Oman to showcase their singing talent, was Raju’s once-in-a-life-time chance to show off his talent.

“I worked day and night for this,” he said.

Out of 4,000 participants, Raju reached the top 20 finalists and was eventually crowned the winner for the first season of the competition.

“When I heard my name, I felt so proud and thanked God,” Raju said. He used his RO1,000 cash prize to lay the foundation of his new family home in India.

‘Dil Ki Awaaz’ is back this year to offer more than 100,000 migrant workers from across 74 labour camps in Oman a chance to participate in the competition and flaunt their singing skills.

‘Dil Ki Awaaz Season 2’ will culminate in a grand finale on March 22, 2019 at the Qurum Amphitheater in the presence of esteemed celebrities Bappi Lahiri and Shibani Kashyap who will judge the finale and choose the top three winners. The winner of the first prize will receive RO1,000; the first runner-up and second runner-up will receive RO750 and RO500 respectively.

Talking about ‘Dil Ki Awaaz Season 2’, Ashwin Gedam, Vice President of Global Marketing, Xpress Money, said, “We were overwhelmed with the response that we received for ‘Dil Ki Awaaz Season 1’ (DKA). What was launched as an opportunity for migrant workers to showcase their singing talent has now become a life-transforming event for many. With each season of DKA, if we succeed in changing the lives of a few people for the better it’s a huge feat for us. Community outreach is a very important part of Xpress Money’s core values, and DKA is an extension of those values.”


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