Spice People: Pragathi Guruprasad

pragathiHails from a family steeped into music and cultural traditions, this child prodigy continues to excel and to rise in the playback singing industry and generally in the world of Indian music. Born to Guruprasad and Kanaka in Singapore in 1997, Pragathi and her family moved to San Francisco in 1999, where they still reside. When she performs here in South Africa this July she would have achieved the distinction of performing 2 different genres of Indian music, namely, Carnatic (Classical) and Film music, in all continents in the world, at just 16 years old.

Pragathi’s music career began in Singapore when she was just over a year old. Her parents, who are Carnatic connoisseurs and her father, being a Carnatic (South Indian Classical) music exponent himself, would teach her Carnatic music lessons.  At a rather young age, she moved to the United States where she continued her formal Carnatic music training under the esteemed tutelage of Sangeetha Swaminathan, a disciple of world renowned Sudha Raghunathan.  Currently she learns Carnatic music under the guidance of Delhi P. Sunder Rajan, as well as Hindustani music from Archana and Manoj Tamhankar of the Gwalior Gharana School of Music.

To properly understand nuances and intricacies of music and lyrics, Pragathi realised the importance of learning the Sanskrit language, both written and spoken.  This enabled her perfect diction later on in songs of all languages.

She catapulted to the worlds’ stage and got her greatest break when she participated in the third season of Vijay TV’s Airtel Super Singer Junior competition, in which she eventually finished as a very close runner-up.  Some of her most memorable performances in the competition included her renditions of demanding songs and also bagging the coveted title of BEST CLASSICAL SINGER.

Her passion and dedication for the performing arts was so genuine that she took off from school for nine months, temporarily relocating to Chennai to participate in this reality TV singing competition. In spite of all of this her academic education did not suffer, as Pragathi is an all-round over achiever and maintains a sound balance between her academic education and her cultural life, which must be commended, seeing that she lives in a Western country. She is a source of motivation to our youth who also make efforts to excel in their academic studies and yet maintain their cultural roots and identity in our own Western society and will be a source of inspiration to those who find it difficult to maintain this balance and also a reminder to parents that both can achieved.

Her outstanding performance in the competition drew attention from the right sectors of the music industry thus launching her professional playback singing career, debuting with Kalakku from the film Panithuli, going on to sing for G. V. Prakash Kumar in the critically acclaimed film Paradesi for two songs – Sengade and Or Mirugam and thereafter singing Osaka Osaka for the movie Vannakam Chennai. Since then, she has gone on to sing a substantial number of songs for Tamil cinema and private albums around the world.

One such album which was released in Europe was Pragathi’s first single song entitled Pattampoochi.  The song was produced in Germany, with artists from Denmark, Germany and UK and was also Pragathi’s first song in Europe.  In August 2013, she recorded another track for the album, “Vaanavil” – The Quest, titled Aasai, along with London based singer TeeJay, receiving strong critical acclaim for her singing.  She has sung for many private albums in Malaysia, India, Srilanka, Europe and USA.

She has won many singing competitions throughout the US, including Spandana Super Singer Junior 2010 and Carnatic Music Idol 2011(featured on Jaya TV). She did various Carnatic kutcheris(concerts) and competitions across the USA. Now, Pragathi is engaged in shows across the USA, Europe, Australia and India. She sings at many programs for various organizations, such as the Tamil Sangams across North America and at other charity events. She is also invited to participate in functions held across the globe, such as the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America Convention of 2013, Kondattam , held in Toronto. On 24 May 2014 she won the title of “Best International Find” at the Vijay TV Awards Ceremony held in Chennai.

Pragathi’s rise to fame at just 16 years of age indeed shows great promise for her future as a playback singer and a cultural ambassador.

About Naufal Khan

Naufal Khan was the Publisher at ADISHAKTI MEDIA and the editor-in-chief of the South African Indian news service Indian Spice. Khan was former Sunday Times journalist and also an occult fiction and non-fiction writer with several published titles.