Well-known for the song ‘Appangal Embadum’ from ‘Ustad Hotel’, the singer talks to TNM about growing up in Nigeria and her love for football.

Footballs Own Country Singer Anna Katharina on her new song and love for the game
news Music Friday, June 22, 2018 - 17:45

She doesn’t mind that she is still identified as the singer of ‘Appangal’. The song gave Anna Katharina Valayil a break that few other singers can dream of. It’d usually take many songs for a voice to be so famous, but Anna made a mark with that very first song.

She answers to Anna with or without the stress on the Ns. If you are a Malayali, she says, you can stress on the Ns. Either way, she is fine. Anna is cool like that.

Talking about her new football song, Anna describes, in the same breath, her childhood in Nigeria – growing up, loving the game. ‘Football’s Own Country’ came about when director Jamesh Kottakkal approached her friends Nithin Joe Jacob and Justin George with the idea. They roped her in, said they would give her the tune, could she write the lyrics and sing the song?

Anna’s husband Ranjesh suggested it might be a good idea, that she could bring to the song the passion she had for the game. So she wrote and sang 'Ullasamai Unmeshamai Kaliyarangil Cheruvan'. The voice Malayalis had loved and sung along with when ‘Appangal Embadum’ came out with the film Ustad Hotel six years ago.

Anna had to take it slow with marriage and with two daughters coming along. “Raysha is four, Rahel is two-and-a-half, and I am a hands-on mom. But I am slowly coming back. We have a band called The Tribe singing hardcore Malayalam. Then there’s another electronic English band called Wolf’s Tribe. The last film song I sang was for the film Charminar,” Anna says.

However, there was another football song in between, ‘Manjapada’ for the Kerala Blasters team. Anna loves the game, she says. She cannot choose a favourite team. Sometimes she likes Messi, other times she thinks Cristiano is good. Some even try to brainwash her into liking a team. Then she reveals, she secretly has a soft corner for Nigeria, where she grew up, where she went to the Corona School and watched everyone, including the teachers, play the game so passionately.

“If there is one team I pray for, it is Nigeria,” she says like a confession. Not that she ever played the game. All she did was the march past, she says, and promptly shouts: Left, right, left!

Plus in football there was the music – a lot of folk music. “Football time also gives us musicians an opportunity to celebrate,” she says.

Back in her training days doing a pilot course in Australia – yes, she did that too – she was the only woman there and would watch the rest of the cadets and instructors play footie.

“It is not really soccer but it was kind of like a daily thing. If not flying, I was always involved in a conversation that had to do with balls,” she laughs.

Anna then picks out another favourite – a man who loved football like her but, again like her, never played the game. “Bob Marley. I love him.” Then there is Maradona, her dad’s favourite, a love he has passed on to Anna. All that love comes into the song, she says.

The video, however, features only men and boys passing and kicking the ball, no women. “But it is rolling on a woman’s voice – whatever footage they have shown,” Anna says.

She does not like being treated by men as one of the guys, she adds. She likes being treated as a woman.

Watch the video here: 

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