Known and loved for her endearingly honest voice and soulful playing, Indo-American singer, flautist and composer Rasika Shekar’s music is a vibrant confluence of diverse musical worlds, rooted in Indian classical music. Her distinctive sound as a singer and flautist has led her to an impressive list of collaborations including John McLaughlin, Shankar Mahadevan, Shankar Ehsaan Loy, Ustad Ghulam Ali Khan and many others.
Rasika graduated from the Berklee College of Music with a degree in performance and production and has delicately nurtured and crafted her sound that allows her to flow through genres effortlessly. Rasika was born in Dubai. Her family moved to the US when she was 12 and she started studying the bamboo flute, diving deep into the tradition of Carnatic music.
It’s while pursuing a degree in chemical engineering, that she discovered Jazz, Latin and RnB, immensely influencing her artistic expression. With inspirations ranging from the likes of Billie Holiday, Mehdi Hassan, Paco De Lucia, Illayaraja, and Abida Parveen, her renditions are a fragment of her musings that are often a derivative of her evolving sonic explorations that are central to her artistry. The supremely talented artist is back with her latest single “Yavum”, and that’s what we are reviewing here.
“Yavum” is the Tamil word for “All” or “Everything”. Rasika Shekar picked that word from the line ‘Yavume Iyarkai Padaippu’ which means. ‘everything is a creation of nature.’ According to Rasika Shekar, the word symbolizes the inner freedom experienced by people after they break down the shackles that were holding them from inside. The beautifully woven track was composed a year ago and the final concept and preparation began as the lockdown started nearing its end. The words to the song were written by Chennai-based lyricist Lavarathan.
Musically, “Yavum” is a result of the eclectic musical influences on Rasika Shekar. You can hear elements of Carnatic to Jazz to RnB and electronic music on the track. The track is in Tamil but you don’t need to read or speak beauty in order to feel it. The dreamy vocals of Rasika Shekar, layered on a mystical bed of soft intoxicating beats and ambient rhythms are just stupefying. All of that of course, is punctuated by her exquisite flute work. It’s marvelous.
“Yavum” also features a beautiful music video which has been created (unintentionally) by an all women team, professionals from different walks of life; from Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, Malaysia, Dubai, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru including dentists, lawyers, students and entrepreneurs. It definitely adds to the charm of this incredibly charming track.
Even though “Yavum” is a soft, soulful tune, it’s a tour de force of Rasika Shekar’s incredible versatility. There’s absolutely nothing that she can’t do.
Verdict: Everything is awesome.