Diya was a winner on India's Zee-TV globally-viewed televised contest SA RE GA MA, India's international version of Star Search in 1999. Initially a child singer in North America's 1st Hindi band, Toronto's Naya Afsana in the early 1970's, she joined both the Chicago band, East-West, and the traditional Vidyanjali Orchestra (VOX) as lead vocalist while in her teens. She also explored the American musical landscape as a soprano in the Cranbrook Chamber Singers and performing in a couple of productions with the Michigan Opera Theatre, only to return with her dance troupe in 2001's Detroit Opera House production of Lakme. She concurrently began to roll in elements of the Billie Holliday and Etta James styles into her renditions of ghazal (poetic love songs of the Persian old world), influenced greatly by famed Indian artist Hariharan, in her private concerts all over USA.
(Diya seen above, in concert with Hariharan in Paris, France).
In 1987, she was founding lead singer of the successful North American Hindi Cinematic band, Ishara. Originally performing with college friends, she was joined by her sisters in their roles as keyboard and rhythm musicians, and developed an attractive song and dance theatrical style involving the whole band, popularizing them for almost 15 years, as they entertained thousands of fans in the U.S. throughout the 90's. Over the years, Diya has been honored to have had the chance to perform for or with some of her idols. The pinnacle was the blessing to sing some years ago at the Rattlesnake Club in Detroit for Motown legend, Aretha Franklin's 50th birthday, as her mother Sudha danced Bharata Natyam, and Aretha herself took the front seat and clapped along. She was also fortunate to perform live in Europe with Indian Music Superstar, Hariharan (of MTV Music Award winning duo Colonial Cousins) in 1999, and on the Amit Kumar US Tour with techno producer Jolly Mukerjee (of FuseBox).
(Above picture: Diya in concert with the traditional Vidyanjali Orchestra (VOX)).
Click here to hear Diya and Gopal in VOX accompanying Ashwaty Chennat.
Click here to hear Diya sing for her sister Anandini's performance for SPIC MACKAY at University of Michigan
Her effort in conjuction with a crew of multi-ethnic musicians in a fusion collective, Madras Jazz café, allowed her to merge some added creativity to the texture, in which she added the element of including uniquely flavored appetizers and beverages to complement the musical performance, for audiences to feel the 3-D effect of musical convergence. The success of this exercise led to the creation of their band, Glotown, in their which Vidya can express in 14 languages the longing, the energy, the vibe of human emotion. With Glotown, the band combines the expressive strength of ancient and modern urban and beat poetry with the spirit of R&B through Acid Jazz and trip-hop in their own style, hennablues.
Click to watch Diya and sisters in Ishara performing Kehna Hi Kya Click to see Diya with Ishara.. Dum Maro Dum
Click to watch Haal Kaisa Hai Janab Ka by Ishara live at a party in Philadelphia
Click to watch Diya and Gopal in Mukkala Muqaabla with in a live Ishara show in Toledo, Ohio
Glotown’s emotional love song "Hide", based on a javali, "Sariga Kongu," has been performed in Bharata Natyam for numerous multi-ethnic audiences, opening up the global emotional experience though musical service. Vidya’s voice can also be heard accapella in the indie film, Jilted, by Richard Anderson, and in the song, "On The Floor," in the D2R Films 2003 release film, Flavors. Currently available recordings include her song on the 2002 release by 19.5 Collective (planetantrecords.com), the 1999 album A2Z by Ishara, which was released by Hindi screen actor, Anupam Kher; and a series of Christian devotional recordings in the Malayalam language – including Anjaly (hindi, 1999, on East-West records), Avanichandrika (1998) and Malayalasheelukal (2002), both in Malayalam on the East West Music label. Vidyanjali's own retrospective album, Vidyanjali Orchestra, was released in 2002, with excellent sales in the Indian market for enthusiasts and performers of Bharata Natyam.
Vidya has additionally been a guest crooner in a number of clubs in New York City, from the legendary Blue Note to the famed Le BarBat. Detroit, clearly in her blood, comes out in her collaborations with Draztik Productions featuring rapper Debonair. As part of an esoteric hip-hop trio, named Triple*Shot, they push their music to the very edges of what hip hop was meant to be – spiced just a tad with the flavors of the world. As a team, Triple*Shot has performed in the top clubs (XS, St. Andrews, etc.) in Detroit, and now have their eyes clearly aimed at finding a home with the right record label on either coast.