I write songs, I sing jazz and soul and anything else I like. I love playing my piano and sometimes dust off my violin to write some string arrangements and I love improvisation and the art of vocal scatting - music makes make me feel like I'm flying free and I try to put everything I feel into a song or a little piano riff.
I am proud to be a British born Sri Lankan raised in North West London with the influence of South Indian Carnatic music and Bharatha Natyam (Indian classical dance), which definitely has inspired my music and creative outlook. I also had the benefit of funk and soul in my household and always have loved music from the 60's and 70's and killer basslines...
I used to be a lawyer in a 'previous life' but gave it up to be a full time musician, which had always been my dream since I was a child learning the piano, violin, Carnatic vocals and writing songs. I realised that I could never give up 'the music' and I only felt right once I was immersed in it, falling into jazz and soul and never quite crawling out! I had a great, intense time doing the Jazz Masters programme at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and was lucky enough to be taught by some great and inspiring teachers. I work with amazing musicians who have huge talent and warm hearts that keep things fresh and keep me always learning. I'm a Mum of 2 gorgeous girls, and have found such inspiration through the journey of parenthood. My kids have made me enjoy music in an open and vulnerable way that has definitely developed greater openness as an artist as well as helping me prioritise the projects that mean the most.
Over the years performing highlights have included playing with my band at Love Supreme, featuring at the Montreux Festival Jazz Vocals Competition led by Quincy Jones, performing at the EFG London Jazz festival, including my lyrical work being premiered at The Barbican. I've performed across many UK jazz clubs, including the main club at legendary Ronnie Scott's, Pizza Express Dean St Jazz club and the 606 with my own projects and material. I also run choirs, including one I set up for local mums in my area, after having my first child (Mamas With Voices). Training non-auditioned singers to find a way to empower themselves and find joy through their singing has been a wonderful experience. I also lecture at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in London, lecturing on Masters in Songwriting and undergraduate BA/BMus songwriting,performance and theory workshops.
Songwriting and performing and my creative practice have always gone together, since I was a kid. Songwriting is as much a way of getting through the challenges of life as much as putting something out there that someone else may enjoy or identify with and it's a core part of my musical identity.
I am currently in the process of releasing my original material, recorded in the lovely EASTCOTE STUDIOS in Dec 2019, following a very heartwarming and successful crowdfunding campaign. This material is being released under my alter ego Pokkisham, which means "Treasure" in Tamil, and represents my journey to be as experimental as I want in my writing and production. I have had my songs played already on BBC Introducing, BBC 3 Counties Radio, Jazz FM and had wonderful support from independent blogs and press - see my website www.pokkishammusic.com for more information.
I have also had the wonderful honour in late 2021/early 2022 of being commissioned to write songs and lyrics for a beautiful musical theatre project "The Coloured Valentino" which is in early production stages after receiving Arts Council funding. Based on a script by Beverly Andrews, the story charts the experiences of one of the first African-American directors in the US in the 1920-30's, Oscar Micheaux and one of his leading lights, actor Lorenzo Tucker dubbed "The Coloured Valentino" for his resemblance to Rudolph Valentino. Set in times of racial struggle and creative limitations, the story charts the hardships and challenges faced, as Oscar worked hard to make films that shone a light on featuring lead character in movies of ethnic minority backgrounds in order to bring attention to 'the need to hear their stories' outside of bit parts and roles as subservient characters. This has been a wonderful process writing new material as lyricist and composer, and features some co-written songs working with the fantastic McCallam Connell (actor/songwriter/lyricist). Featuring a stunning working cast, this is a very exciting project to be part of.
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With music and light,