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Ganavya Doraiswamy(Profile/Biography)

United States

Vocalist, scholar, and composer Ganavya has carved a niche for herself at the nexus of South Indian vocal styles and contemporary music. Her own debut album, Aikyam: Onnu, ("Harmony: One") features the incredible breadth of her character: it draws from an amalgam of ancient Indian spirituals she learnt during pilgrimages as a child, with an anchor in jazz standards that she has translated to Tamil from English, showcasing a linguistic command over her two mother-tongues.

She holds degrees in theatre and psychology (FIU), and graduate degrees in contemporary performance (Berklee College of Music), and ethnomusicology (UCLA). She was awarded one of Berklee's first Post-Graduate Fellowships, for which she constructed a course titled Sounds of Indian Music, and published a text under the same name for the course. Most recently, she studied Creative Practice and Critical Inquiry at Harvard University.

She has learnt from, or performed and recorded with: Danilo Perez, Placido Domingo, James Newton, Victor Wooten, Wadada Leo Smith, Alain Perez, Perico Sambeat, Vijay Iyer, Zakir Hussain, Laura Karpman, Polo Orti, Victor Mendoza, Sandra Carrasco, Javier Limón, Ousso Lotfy, Tyshawn Sorey, Claire Chase, and Zebbler Encanti Experience, among other artists who have influenced her work. Recently, she sang on the Quincy Jones-produced Tocororo, which hit #1 on jazz charts.

During her time in South India, she learnt how to play the jalatharangam, a near-extinct instrument championed by her late grandmother, Kalaimamani Smt. Seetha Doraiswamy. Her Karnatik vocal guru is Karaikkal R. Jaishankar, a senior student of Kalaimamani Sri Vairamangalam Lakshminarayanan.

For over a decade, she learned extensively from, and toured with, the troupe of Sri Tukaram Ganapathy Maharaj, where she became well-versed in the varakari tradition of singing abhangs, which are devotional poems written by Maharashtrian Hindu saints c.a. 12th through the 17th centuries.

Ganavya graduated in the dance art form of bharatanatyam under Smt. Radhika Vairavelavan (née Ganesh), student of Smt. Ambika Buch, of the renowned Kalakshetra College of Fine Arts. In a publication titled Rasam for the Dancer's Soul, Ganavya worked on cataloguing many of the hand gestures as part of FIU's SRAI initiative.

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