'I want to build my own brand'

'I want to build my own brand'

The voice that burgeoned with the peppy notes of the title track of Rohit Shetty’s Chennai Express has now blossomed in the mellow tune of Kahaan Hoon Main from Imtiaz Ali’s upcoming film Highway.

Belonging to the Canada-born Indian singer Jonita Gandhi, the voice is no longer unfamiliar to music-lovers post her stint in Coke Studio with Clinton Cerejo.

Though raised in a foreign land, Jonita doesn’t consider herself alienated from her roots since she had the good fortune of being surrounded by the Indian community during her growing up years.

“My first song that was recorded was Shabad Gurbani when I was 16. Hailing from a Sikh family, I used to visit the Gurdwara frequently. As a child I was very shy, but got my inspiration from the musical band that my father had in college.

I used to perform with him for various community events, which gave me a chance to practise,” says the young songstress who is trained in Western classical music and has made her dreams come true quite early in her career.

“To all those who asked me about the person who I would want to work with, my answer was AR Rahman,” she says shyly narrating how she got a call from Chennai, after her Coke Studio episode was aired and she flew down from Toronto to work with him.

“I didn’t even know that he tweeted about me after listening to my cover song. But when my friends told me, it was an amazing feeling! Rahman Sir knows how to marry a singer to a composition. He is always open to changing the tune to make the song belong to the artiste, which in place makes the song very emotive!”

While Metrolife wonders about her ‘American accent’, Jonita says, “Mere gaane me mera accent nahi aata,” in shuddh Hindi, startling the interviewer and making it clear that even as a child, her influence was “Pop and Hindi film music. At a South Indian club, I even learned Bollywood dance and songs and always thought of becoming an actor or singer, but never thought of moving to India consciously,” says the
singer who is learning Hindustani classical.

Having achieved a hold on playback singing, she doesn’t want to limit herself. “I am going to show a lot more to the industry. Something that people haven’t heard since there is lots that can be done with music. People like Priyanka Chopra are inspiring, but I would not like to relate myself to any one personality. There is something that I have learnt from every one. I grew up listening to songs of Lataji and Ashaji and even to that of Michael Jackson and Beyonce. But I want to build my own brand and not emulate anybody because your voice is like your soul which cannot be duplicated.”

Ask her if she would like to pursue her long-lost dream of becoming an actor and pat comes the reply, “I wouldn’t mind exploring that option. But at the moment, I would like to focus on my singing,” she says.

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