Singing sensation Raghav
Text by Ashanti OMkar (www.omkari.net)
Photos by Akin Falope (www.aworan.net)
The word on everyone's lips is RAGHAV, the hot new Asian superstar who is set to re-define Asian music in the mainstream, reaching the ears of listeners all over the world, no doubt. Every so often, a voice and talent comes to our ears, changing the face of a certain genre of music and setting trends, this has come in 2004 in the form of 22 year old Tri-Lingual Raghav, who with his multitude of talents is winning hearts and making the Asian music industry very proud.
So, you may ask, what is this song that has hit the music industry so much? The song is `So Confused', an infectious tune, with catchy lyrics and the vocal talents of the unique, smooth voiced Raghav! The tune is a mix of dancehall, R&B and pure melody. It is the first release of 2Play, a garage DJ since 1997, whose real name is Wessley - the man behind the huge club cover of `Turn me on' (sung by Raghav and featuring on the single), which was released into the mainstream and was a top 10 hit for Soca singer Kevin Lyttle. It encompasses the talents of MC Juxci and of course the magnificent vocals of Raghav!
To be honest, Raghav steals the whole show, his tremendous singing and song writing shine through and the song is really know as "that Raghav song which we love"! Raghav's singing encompasses a blend of Western with the `shaking of the notes' which have a subtle and loveable Indian tinge to them, this is the pure beauty of the piece, as it makes it universal to all - young and old, everyone has this tune humming in their head, and proving it's worth as an entry into the UK charts at Number 7! To give Raghav more credit, the whole melody line and lyric writing also belongs to him, his concept being `Should I tell her now or tell her later - I don't want to miss out on this chance for love'. A very real sentiment that many people go through, at least at one point in their lives.
The `So Confused' video is on heavy rotation on all the major Cable music channels, Channel U being one of the most prominent, it has been promoting the song since last October or so, with the song also being played around clubs as far as Portugal! Raghav tells us about his experience on the video: "One day after I had arrived in London from Canada, the video shoot was going ahead! It was all a quick set, I had to perform under pressure, but I am very happy with the outcome."
Now, the burning question on the lips of our readers is, who is Raghav - how did he come to become the singing sensation he is? Well, Ashanti Omkar had the opportunity to meet Raghav and his manager, Nyrone to get an exclusive insight into this very handsome, could I say gorgeous youngster with a fascinating personality and much eloquence, who was no doubt going to be the star for 2004.
With parents of Uttar Pradesh descent, Raghav Mathur was born in Toronto, Canada and brought up in Calgary, West Canada. A place with very few Asians, his Parents instilled the balance of East and West, which included many visits to India and lots of Bollywood movies. In the words of Raghav, "One day, I was about 4 ¿ years old and we went to visit my Masi, the in car stereo system was broken and kept playing the same song, `Hey Apna Dil' by Dev Anand. This song repeated all the way and at the end of it, I had pretty much memorised it. When we reached the house, I was singing it and that's when my Parents realised that I had an interest in singing. A few months later, I was sent for music classes with the great Guru, Nishi Kant Bali."
Raghav tells the Asian Post,"I got into Hindustani Classical music, as a result of my Mother's gentle encouragement. She never forced me into it, but gave me lots of opportunity to listen to the music and fall in love with its sweet sophistication, the concepts of Raags, which evoke different moods, the whole ocean of classical music just stayed with me throughout my young days and no doubt will remain in my heart and singing forever."
About his gurus, Raghav feels strongly that they have helped him along the way, "As a child, I was able to imitate the vocal styles, mimicking the sounds of my Gurus, Pundit Mani Prasad and Nishi Kant Ji. This helped to carve my voice into what it is today." One question I always ask my interviewees, if they have an Indian Classical background is what their favourite Raga is, Raghav's reply was "The Raag Yeman, as it is the one that I learnt first and remains my favourite over the years, for it's sweetness and versatility." Raghav began to perform all around Canada, from a very young age and captured the hearts of many a discerning listener as he grew up.
I asked him about how he got into song writing, his reply was, "At the age of 15, I started to jam with lyrics, I started to put together song words out of real life scenarios, definitive stories about my life and the lives of the people around me, then putting the lyrics to melody, that's how it all transpired." He tell us that his musical influences are: "Michael Jackson, I would almost faint before the concert was over; Stevie Wonder, vocally the greatest singer on the planet, in my book; veteran singers Indian singers like Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi are also a big influence for me. In fact, I was hooked on Amitab Bachan movies and the songs in them. AR Rahman is also one person who I would love to work with, as he is the definitive in terms of music genius." Raghav is a humble chap and didn't mention that he has won many accolades for his lyrical talents, the main one being: Top original song in 1998 as voted by the National Songwriters Association Of America. Indeed a huge achievement for someone so young.
4 years ago, Raghav had to make a big choice. He was being offered scholarships in the USA to develop his huge potential. Raghav, a na¿ve 18 year old was 3 days away from moving to New York to study drama, when he listened to his heart, a choice he will never regret. He chose to go to LA, where he was coached by Seth Riggs - when asked about Seth, Raghav proudly tells us, "Seth is the genius who trained up Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Madonna, in the vocal arena. He is a mastermind in terms of vocal styles and he really knows how to work with someone's voice. He is an addictive personality and as it's been a few years since I had learned with him, I want to go back and learn more - music is an ocean and he is definitely one to teach me further!"
When asked about his style of music, Raghav tells us, "I would not like to bracket myself into a particular style, my music is from my heart and like myself and it is of an "Urban" nature, a fusion of many styles, Indian, Reggae, R&B, Hip Hop. One couldn't pinpoint the exact genre, but the blending of styles allows for people to feel the music. That is my aim, for people to feel the music and bond with it." He tells us, "I want my music to be loved by various audiences, like my solo release in February, `Can't get enough', it is a mix of Hindi and English, where we explore different elements incorporating the languages, breaking the barriers, the song is a heady mix of Hindi Film Music, through a sample from the movie Aarpaar, my vocals in English, British rapper, Iceberg Slimm performing on it and adding my voice singing a Hindi part too. The producer of the moment, Mushtaq worked on this song, `Cant get enough' and on listening, you can see his technical brilliance."
In conclusion, Raghav is one to be supported by us all, go buy the CD, because talents like his are rare to come by and with his forthcoming album which I personally am hoping will drop this year, Raghav tells his fans: "I will not cut corners on any elements of this album, I will not disappoint you, as I plan to pour my soul into this venture. I ask all my fans to await the album with high expectations, as it is going to be a release of A&R Records, a record company with decades of industry experience and the album will show all my musical passions, all the different aspects of music that I can possibly project at this point in time." Last but not least, Raghav adds: "I would like to Thank all the people who have supported the track and I truly hope to keep you as my fans for years to come, providing you with quality music. I want to take my music all over the world and thank everyone for showing me love. It is truly inspiring."
Having seen Raghav perform live at The Notting Hill Arts Club, for Radio One DJ, Nihal's excellent "Bombay Bronx" residency, I can say again that this guy is pure talent live! His voice resonates and his 'shakes' of the notes really bring out the goose bumps. He's also a huge hit with the ladies, that's for sure! I can't say enough good things about this guy!
Most of this was an article written for The Asian Post and published when Raghav's 1st single, with 2Play (So confused) hit the UK charts at Number 7. He subsequently had a huge hit with his own single 'Can't get enough', which was in the UK top 10 at the same time as his 2Play record! His next collaboration, with 2Play and Uk Rapper, Naila Boss, will be out very soon, entitled - It can't be right! Watch out for his solo outing and album in the summer.
For more on Raghav, go to:
Listen to Raghav with the guys who 1st showcased him: