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With Indian inflections, Kalpana Rao’s musical inheritance is truly international

Jetting in from Zurich, her home for the last 28 years, singer Kalpana Rao teams up with the city’s jazz elite to form a ‘for one night only’ band. Bringing together Aman Mahajan on the piano, Prakash KN on bass, drummer Jeoraj George, and of course Rao’s sensual vocals, the quarter will perform an eclectic set of famous and lesser-known jazz standards, as well as contemporary songs.

Cross country
Born in Germany, raised in India, living in Switzerland and performing worldwide, Rao credits her globe-trotting with shaping her sound. Hindustani classical, Bollywood, folk music, ghazals and bhajans were all early influences, and a stint at jazz school also helped. “My jazz vocals have a subtle and yet discernible Indian inflection to them,” Rao shares, elaborating, “This happens most during improvisation. The Indian tonalities come very naturally to me.”

Family matters
Despite training as a dentist, Rao’s musical genes were too strong to be ignored.Daughter of playback singer and TV performer Kamla Sista, and sister of pop diva and actress Suneeta Rao we can understand exactly why. “I have been singing since the age of four, and after graduating from college I realised how much I really wanted to exploit my talent,” she says. Squeezing this Bangalore concert into a trip to celebrate her mother’s 75th birthday, she’s most looking forward to the audience interaction. “The Indian audience expresses its appreciation in a much more overt manner than a Swiss crowd,” she signs off.

At bFlat, 100 Feet Road, Indiranagar. Tickets (Rs. 300) on bookmyshow.com

— Maegan Dobson Sippy


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