After Coachella, Sid Sriram to perform at Sydney Opera House

The singer made headlines by singing a Tiruppugazh verse at the Coachella festival this year

Updated - May 09, 2024 12:09 pm IST

Published - May 08, 2024 02:42 pm IST

Sid Sriram performing at the  Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club in California

Sid Sriram performing at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club in California | Photo Credit: Amy Harris

Since he was nine years old, Sid Sriram has been singing the Tiruppugazh , taught to him by his mother. Little did he know that one day, he would sing it on a completely different platform, for a largely western audience.

The US-based singer’s singing of the Tiruppugazh ‘Sivanar manam kulira’ at the Coachella festival in California was much talked about, with his Instagram video clip going viral. He says, “The verse is written by poet-saint Arunagirinathar, and is dedicated to Murugan. I usually perform it at my shows, and when I got a chance to perform at Coachella, I didn’t hesitate to include it. I’m sure it’s the first time Tamil has been sung at this popular festival.”

Sid Sriram began his Coachella performance with a Ganesha invocatory song

Sid Sriram began his Coachella performance with a Ganesha invocatory song | Photo Credit: VITHU PHOTOGRAPHY

Sriram began his performance with the Ganesha invocation ‘Vakratunda mahakaya’. “Though the rest of the set mainly consisted of songs from my recent English album Sidharth, I felt it was important to tell the world about my strong roots. The silence and awe after both the prayers were unbelievable. It was a special moment., showing that people of different backgrounds can universally communicate through music.”

At Coachella, Sriram says he got a great response for the songs ‘Do the dance’ and ‘Dear sahana’ from the album. “Even the song ‘The hard way’ was well-received. I also performed my next single ‘One day god’. It’s more of an ambient soul song, done my way.”

Sid Sriram perfoming a Carnatic concert at Sri Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha in Chennai

Sid Sriram perfoming a Carnatic concert at Sri Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha in Chennai | Photo Credit: S. R. Ragunathan

Sriram was born in Chennai in 1990, and his parents moved to Fremont, California, when he was a year old. He started learning Carnatic music from his mother when he was three. The western music exposure came when he was seven, initially when listening to jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter on the radio. Finding a similarity between Carnatic vocal techniques like the gamaka and western improvisation, Sriram worked at blending the two.

He also got an early break in film music, when music director A.R. Rahman gave him the Tamil song ‘Adiye’ in the 2013 movie Kadal. He was 23 then, and went on to record a string of film songs. His biggest hit, of course, was the Telugu song ‘Srivalli’ with composer Devi Sri Prasad in the 2021 film Pushpa: The Rise. He has also done the soundtrack for Mani Ratnam’s 2020 Tamil movie Vaanam Kottattum, featuring the hit ‘Kannu thangom’.

Released last August, Sidharth is Sriram’s second album, after Entropy five years ago. He did a special show focusing on songs from Sidharth at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC), Mumbai, in November. He says, “I was pleasantly surprised by the response, considering that many in India know me for my south Indian film music. But while I did the English songs at the bigger auditorium, I did a pure Carnatic concert two months later at the smaller venue at NMACC.”

On his last visit to India, he spent time recording new film songs in Chennai. These include ‘Ae pulla’ with Rahman for Lal Salaam (Tamil), ‘Netru varai’ with music director G.V. Prakash for Siren (Tamil), ‘Nandanandanaa’ with Devi Prasad for The Family Star (Telugu) and ‘Madam sir madam anthe’ with Kalyan Nayak in Maruthi Nagar Subramanyam (Telugu).

He has also been performing during the December Season in Chennai for over two decades. Asked whether he changes his approach for a Carnatic music audience, he says, “I have gone past the phase where I keep thinking of the perception to my music. I put in my best, and to me the opportunity to be on any stage comes as a blessing.”

One of his concert dreams will be fulfilled when he performs at the Sydney Opera House later in May. He says, “Our Australian tour will include Melbourne. Sydney is one of the world’s most prestigious venues, and am looking forward to that experience. Many one-off shows are lined up in the US later this year.”

Besides concerts, he’s working on new English songs. “There were many new things I learnt while putting together Sidharth. I wish to move even further on my next releases. I am working on some cross-cultural collaborations, and will announce them at the appropriate time,” he concludes. His fans are waiting.

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