Sting, An Artist beyond just Music

AN ELGIN EXCLUSIVE FEATURE BY SURABHI sunil

The habitual wearing of a black and yellow sweater and flitting around like a wasp earned Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner the moniker, Sting. A name that will go on to be one of the most recognizable ones in the history of music. The frontman of popular 1980’s band The Police and a successful soloist going forward, this Englishman had strong connections to India.

Image by @ericryananderson, Instagram
“My children call me Sting, my mother calls me Sting, who is this Gordon character?” In 2011, he told Time that “I was never called Gordon. You could shout ‘Gordon’ in the street and I would just move out of your way”.

Speaking of how he had been coming to India for more than half his life, Sting went on to say, “I think it’s essential for any traveller here to acknowledge its contradictions, its paradoxes: the abject poverty and the extraordinary wealth; the exquisite beauty of its spiritual traditions besides the horror of its religious hatreds; the patient good humour of its people and the Kafkaesque entanglements of bureaucracy. I’ve seen many sides of this country.”

The artist first arrived in the country, back in the 1980s for a performance as the lead singer of The Police. This also marks the beginning of his lifelong fascination with India. Calling it the best performance of his life at that point, he talks amusedly of watching old ladies in their saris jamming to the music with their umbrellas.

Image by @mumbaiheritage, Twitter

Sting’s first visit to India was with his band The Police for a concert in 1987. Here pictured in front of Regal Cinema, Bombay.

Walking along in Rajasthan and The Himalayas, Sting came up with inspiration for lyrics to many international hits. In conversation with Billboard, he said that the initial theme for ‘Desert Rose’ was partially conceived during his lengthy trip in 1988 to India and particularly the scenic and spiritual beauty of the Himalayas.

Sting also figures that his years of Yoga practice may have originated from his interest in India. “I took up yoga 25 years ago, maybe because of my interest in India,” he said. “I practice every day, I meditate. I have a very rudimentary understanding of Indian religion, I’m not particularly religious. But I owe a great deal to yoga. It’s given me, maybe, another decade of my career.”

Image by The Guardian, Google

Yoga is almost like music in a way; there’s no end to it. – Sting

Besides mastery of music and performance, Sting has also ventured into the field of acting. With films like Quadrophenia (1979), Dune (1984) and, Julia and Julia (1987) under his belt he also contributed to movie soundtracks in the early 2000s.

The Rainforest Foundation, founded in 1987 by Sting and his now-wife Trudy Styler aims to protect the rainforest and its indigenous peoples. With strong ideas and interests, he has continued to be a vocal advocate for human rights and environmental issues throughout his career. In 2002, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. And in 2004 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).