sumitra

sumitra

BandJazzAdult Contemporary

"...an undeniable love affair with melody which effectively drives the album on its rollercoaster of compositions...in terms of songwriting she’s way ahead of her peers...of its type, this is a top class and sophisticated album." Elly Roberts/www.allgigs.co.uk

Biography

www.sumitra-online.com
www.myspace.com/sumitraonline

Artists often refer to the place they call “home” as the wellspring of their creative vision. For Sumitra Nanjundan, who recently released a new album, Indian Girl, on Next Generation Enterprises, an ongoing search for “a place to call home” enhances her ability to compose and perform music.

Born in New York, raised in Vienna, schooled in London, and now living in Los Angeles, this versatile artist with South Indian roots has a style she characterizes as “pop songs in a jazz setting: intimate, original, personal, timeless.”

“People ask me to describe my style relative to other artists, which is something I used to resist,” says Sumitra, “but I’ve learned that it really helps them to get the idea. The closest comparisons are Rickie Lee Jones, Sade, Billy Holiday, and Kate Bush.”

Her style started developing very early — as a toddler and child she sang, learned to play the piano, recorded songs on a two-track tape machine, and regaled visitors to her parents’ home with piano and voice performances.

In a British boarding school, she studied classical piano, sang in school choirs, sat for a number of Royal Schools of Music exams, and began to write music. She was immersed in her love of the art form.

In her last year of high school, during a concert to raise money for the school newspaper, Sumitra performed two original songs, singing and playing the piano in a duet with a friend who sang and played the keyboard. At that performance, the guitar player of an Austrian band that was also performing told Sumitra “that my songs were great and that I should be singing and have a band of my own.”

After two years studying economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, she returned to Vienna to study for the classical piano entrance exam at the Vienna Music Academy. She didn’t make it into the Academy, but instead formed her first band, Satu, with whom she performed throughout Austria and developed a major following.

Sumitra got an enticing taste of the music business when she and Satu recorded their first single, “Trying,” in a major Austrian recording studio. “It was overwhelming, so exciting, and the producer was thrilled when I played him one of my songs on the piano,” she says. “I loved being in the studio and was fascinated by every step of the process. I stayed there the whole time, regardless of what was going on, because I wanted to learn how everything worked.”

After elation, came disillusionment. After “Trying” was released and charted, a record deal followed. Disagreements and arguments created a toxic environment for creativity, and a disappointed Sumitra backed out of the deal.

She received a business degree from a university in Vienna, all the while writing and playing music at home. The sting of the negative experience of the record deal gone bad made her reluctant to get back on stage and perform. “I did start doing smaller gigs with a trio,” Sumitra says. “We did some covers and jazz standards, but it was just for fun.”

Eighteen months later, driven by a desire to write and perform, she quit her full-time job and returned to the studio with Georg Tomandl, former keyboard player and member of Satu. Together, they assembled a new band and in 1993, Sumitra had a demo containing a dozen new songs.

A four-track EP entitled Sumitra followed in 1994, enabling her to reach a wider Austrian radio audience, and the following year she returned to the studio to record The Secret of Our Souls, which enabled her to break into the Austrian jazz/pop scene.

The year 1998 brought another turn in her career, as Sumitra formed a duo with guitarist Alex Machacek, whom she married in December of 2003 and who encouraged her to explore different styles of music while continuing to work on her own songs. Her singing style and Alex’s playing fused to create a unique sound, and the duo started to explore different styles together. A devoted fan base continued to develop throughout Austria, and Sumitra achieved her dream of music as a full-time career.

In the years that followed, she worked on several projects with other musicians, both live and in the studio; did commercial work; studied voice with the renowned Maria Alsatti; instructed voice at the Gustav Mahler Konservatorium in Vienna; and coached singers in her own home studio.

In 2003, Sumitra decided she was ready to record a new album. Indian Girl represented the first time she presented her music in a “guitar trio setting” with no keyboards or piano. The recording features strong guitar work from Alex Machacek, who is joined by Mario Lackner on drums and Tibor Kovesdi on bass — all underscoring Sumitra’s originality, individuality, and personality as a singer and songwriter.

One imagines that this Indian Girl will eventually feel grounded in a place she can call home. Until then, Sumitra brings a refreshingly real feel to the concept of being an artist, teacher, a

Lyrics

I know it's late

Written By: Sumitra Nanjundan

It just stopped raining
Every soul in town's asleep
I've got a secret
But it isn't mine to keep

I know it's late
You might be sleeping
But this cannot wait anymore
I know you're tired
Of hearing my stories
And I hope you'll let me stay
I know it's late
But I'd like to make your day

I've watched you for a long time
In your friendly way, you care
To others it may seem so easy
But I'm not the type
Who can easily share

I know it's late...

And I could tell you that I love you
But it wouldn't be my style
I would rather wake you up at night
Just to see your smile

I know it's late

if my clothes were torn

Written By: Sumitra Nanjundan

'What should I wear today?'
I would ask before I went to school
'My new blue jeans look nice'
But I don't think
That they're really cool
And then I discovered I couldn't see
I had to wear my glasses
And no one looked at me

And when you see me now
You just can't remember
Where we met
It happens often
People see me once
Then they forget
It's not what I am
It's just what I wear
But no one seems to notice
That I don't really care

If my clothes were torn
And my hair was greasy
Would you give me the time of day?
You would turn your back
You would never greet me
Could you think of a friendly word
to say?
If my clothes were torn
Would you walk away

'What should I wear today?'
Does it matter
Will you ever know?
Just how it feels inside
When your life revolves
Around a show
In silk or in cotton
Leather or lace
What do you see in me
Behind my smiling face?

If my clothes were torn...

I'm afraid of the dark

Written By: Sumitra Nanjundan

There is nothing to be scared of
But I often hear
Footsteps down the hallway
They could be very near
I check the locks for the 100th time
Switch on all the lights
And I wonder why
The daytime seems
Safer than the night

Chorus:
I'm afraid of the dark
When it's time for bed
And a 1000 thoughts
Race through my head
I'm afraid I'll forget
What I wanted to say
At the end of a day
When the lights were still on
I'm afraid of the dark
And in the morning
You could be gone

I woke up at 4 o'clock
And saw that you weren't there
I ran around in a state of shock
Looking for you everywhere
Finally, it dawned on me
That I had slept alone
You hadn't left me here to face
A new life on my own

Chorus:
I'm afraid of the dark...

Sometimes I just can't wait
For a new day to begin
Sometimes I hold my breath
And hope that this will soon be over
But as long as you are near
I know that I have nothing to fear

Chorus:
I'm afraid of the dark...

Discography

Sumitra.indian girl.The Secret of our Souls.Sumitra

Alegre Correa Group.Raizes.Negro Coracao

Sandra Pires.Sandra Pires

Bass by Al.On the Air

Zena.Zena

Ali Schmidl.Anima

Albert Kreuzer.Mira

Compilations

Sunshine Enterprises
Fruit Collection–Melon Groove.Casino Sunshine Club 1

Der große Hallamasch

Soundtracks

Eine fast perfekte Scheidung
Sarahs kurzes Leben
Die Viertelliterklasse

Set List

Set List.Duo
usually 2sets.approx. 45-50 minutes per set
about 15-20 songs

Originals

indian girl
if my clothes were torn
destiny
i know it's late
i'm afraid of the dark
at the end
can you imagine?
orange and gold
my love's like a red red rose
empty fields
one life
no words
wildest dreams

Covers

as we come to be (Carleen Andersen)
woman in me (Carleen Andersen)
i can't make you love me (Prince)
don't talk to strangers (Prince)

A large repertoire of jazz standards including

lush life
spring can really hang you up the most
don't go to strangers
my romance
tenderly
my one and only love
the nearness of you

Set list.Band
2 sets.45-50 minutes per set
about 15-18 songs
mostly originals.sometimes 2-3 covers (see above)