Playback Singer, RJ, Television Host
What was your first song as a playback singer?
The first song I ever sang as a playback singer was for Yuvan Shankar Raja. It was called 'Pelican Paravaigal' and was for a movie called 'Lovers'. Neither the album nor the film have released till date!
What were the turning points in your career?
There has never been one single break or turning point, because my career changed every 5 years! For my current career as a singer, the work I have done with Harris Jeyaraj, Bharadwaj, Mani Sharma and Yuvan were definite turning points. Recently, Devisri Prasad and Thaman have given an additional dimension to my singing - so they have become turning points too!
Have there been any unique challenges that you've faced?
Indian singing definitely requires some amount of classical training and the playback singing industry generally prefers sweet, feminine voices for women. Being an untrained singer with a slightly unconventional voice was the biggest challenge. But somehow, the kind of songs I got to sing were stronger on tone, expression and power, which did come easily to me.
What are some of the poignant moments you've had as a singer?
Poignant incidents happen all the time. Srikanth Deva actually stands up and claps if I ace a song, Mani Sharma treats me like a daughter, Devisri Prasad and I bond like long-lost twins, Thaman and Dharan are wonderfully caring brothers. When Rahman Sir looked me in the eye after he heard my takes for his Telugu film 'Komaram Puli' and said "Sounding good, man!”, I thought I was going to faint! My years as a playback singer so far are full of gooey-warm, happy incidents!
Why did you choose Chennai as base?
I didn't choose Chennai. Chennai chose me!
What's a typical work day like?
Walk the dog, feed her, feed self and husband (we have a power drink in the morning which our friend Andrea Jeremiah calls 'morning miracle'), yoga, lunch, work/learn at the bakery (I am an intern with 'Sandy's'), do my recordings, evening with friends/family/dog.
What would you consider your secret to success?
Is there one???
What's 2011 looking like for you?
2011 is a year of learning and travel for me. Apart from what I learn at Sandy's, I go for music lessons and plan to do a teacher's training course in yoga too. Also, I'm focusing on taking my stage concerts to the next level of showmanship.
What would be your advice to aspiring playback singers?
Like Whoopi Goldberg says in Sister Act, if you wake up in the morning and can think of nothing but singing, want to do nothing but sing, then that's what you are meant to do and it would be a crime to not pursue it. Devisri Prasad says pretty much the same thing.
An edited version of this interview was published in Taxi Magazine in 2011.