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New Delhi, Oct 4

Grammy nominated Indian-American songwriter Raja Kumari, also a rapper, wishes to push the South Asian profile forward through her music and says that incidents like the mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music concert can't force her to live in fear.

The death toll from the mass shooting at the concert on Sunday has touched 59, and 527 others were left injured.

Just a few months ago, singer Ariana Grande's concert in Manchester was interrupted by a suicide bomber.

It seems like attending concerts has become unsafe. Is Kumari scared as an artiste to perform?
"Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes you don't understand it. It's so horrible what's been happening, but I can't live my life in fear. I have to try to influence people through my music. Choose the light. I am sad and shocked about it (the shooting), but I refuse to make that change in me for what I came on earth to do," Kumari told IANS on the phone from Mumbai.

Her aim is to help push the South Asian profile forward worldwide.

"I want to make the entire global community look at India as the source of hip-hop," said the California-based rapper with roots in Andhra Pradesh.

Kumari, best known for her collaboration with global artistes like Gwen Stefani, Iggy Azalea and Fall Out Boy, has always been vocal about her love for India.

"I am also a classical Indian dancer. I have learnt Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam and Odissi. I have done charity performances in India. So, I have always had a deep connection with the history of India.

"I wanted a grander stage for my classical dance and music. Everybody can enjoy music. I thought of using that medium to celebrate our culture," she added.

Now, she is looking forward to the Wednesday release of her song "City slums".

"When I was watching 'Slumdog Millionaire', I felt annoyed as the only generous person they showed was a white man giving $100. This song is coming from the gullies (lanes), the song is more about the spirit of the people there and celebrating what's great about them," she said about the track which is in collaboration with Indian rapper Divine.

"If you watch the video, I don't think there is anything negative. It is out of respect and love for where I come from. And Divine is the gully gang boy. It is truly an international collaboration. I am here to celebrate all of us... the 1.4 billion people," she added.

After her 2014 song "Centuries" for rock band Fall Out Boy became a platinum, the songwriter proved that the American music industry could invest in her work. Would she like to pen a song on the current American politics?
"Gosh! I believe that music speaks to people. He (US President Donald Trump) has said so many crazy things. Last year, he said something about the children of immigrants to be monitored.

"The America that I grew up in is the Land of Milk and Honey. My parents lived the American dream. I am the American dream. I mostly respond to his behaviour with meditation and concentration on love and light," she added.

(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at natalia.n@ians.in)

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