A big thanks to many peers whose enthusiastic help in screening many talents from the state of Andra Pradesh, Pradip Soman Sir, Harika Peddibhotla and Dr. Swetha of Melomanies. We finally have two female (confirmed) and two male (tentative) candidates finalized from the state’s very competitive, classically trained talent pool. Priya Pidaparty, was a candidate whose talent and music experiences stood outstanding and a class apart from many singers irrespective of any state from India.
A talent that was nurtured from a very young age itself by family, teachers and friends went onto get recognition for her talent starting from Balabharathi title, from prestigious Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal, to S. P. Balasubramoniam sir’s prestigious “Padutha theeyaga” performances and a win on such shows are well enough endorsements for Priya in India’s music scene. This is almost a year of waiting before this feature materialized, yet we are excited beyond words to bring this phenomenal talent to our readers. Priya as always was very unassuming and down to earth personality.
Here is her insta page link https://www.instagram.com/singer_priya_pidaparty/
On YouTube you will find her here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXSFsgZM2j5-oVjbH5QN3mA/featured
Please introduce yourself and walk us through your initial interactions with music, all about your family and how did they found your talent?
“Priya Pidaparty, that is my name, is a native of Andhrapradesh, exactly from the great city of Kakinada (a city famous for delicious India’s Donuts called Khaja). My family includes my dad, mom, and an older sister. As far as music in my family concerned, none of my parents are serious singers. My father by profession is a public servant, he loves singing. I guess my genes for singing come from him. My mom is a homemaker, who listens to music a lot on her radio always as I have seen her growing up.”
“I started my music very early in my life. My very first memories of singing are at around age two. I started singing whatever I listened to, to my dad, that is what my parents say. In the family, other proper singing talent is my sister. At home, we were fortunate that my dad played and sing legendary Ghantasala songs when I was a child. Later Raja sir hits were played all the time, along. I am very much influenced by these two music legends. One thing that really made me a singer is the encouragement from my family members and neighbors. I didn’t realize how I sing or anything, all I can remember is that they all were quite surprised seeing me singing at that young age. So my parents decided to enroll my sister and myself in music classes. My first guru was Smt. Suseela Rani. My sister joined formally, she was around 6 yrs age at that time. My guru was kind enough to allow me to sit in the classes, despite the fact that I was only three years of old. That’s where my musical journey began.”
Now looking back after several years of learning Carnatic music at a young age and later as an adult what are your thoughts about the learning process?
“That is a very interesting question. When I was that young all I did was learn Carnatic as any other music. I did not know the details of each composition or anything. But as an adult my learning process was deeper, realizing how much of a genius all these compositions. All of our legends wrote music with such genius that they knew writing music based on a system ( it is so scientific genius behind it) will preserve the exact notation it is meant to be sung no matter how many years go by. Every note, every detail that is tied to a system of numbers and style; I am awed by the vast knowledge behind these compositions. Every day, I am realizing how much less of it that I understand about Carnatic.” Priya stops for a while overwhelmed by the thoughts.
Priya had a very interesting growing up, where she said her dad got a transfer from Hyderabad to Cochin in the state of Kerala. That brought all of her family to an entire different language and culture in the southern state. First, for her it was mentally a lot of stress thinking of losing her music class, school and friends. But she says the day they reached Cochin there were employee association festivals going on. All of her dad’s friends from work came to have the sisters sing and compete. Priya says the kind of culture she had the pleasure of witnessing in Kerala surprised her. Coming from a state that is filled with so many Carnatic education institutions , Kerala equally had so much enthusiasm for Carnatic as she witnessed back home. She is a proud Alumni of Cochin’s unique music and arts center called Fr. Abel’s Cochin Kalabhavan, that produced many film celebrities of India (Alma mater) (Established by a CMI Priest, Fr. Abel, whose love for Kerala’s music and arts and its nurture was his priority like his commitment to priesthood. Sujatha, Jency, Minmini and many more famous musicians came from this institute).
Describe your classical music training and all about your teachers
I joined my first music classes in Hyderabad at the age of three .The only way I could learn was by listening and watching my guru singing, as I cannot go with notes. This was an advantage to me, which I realized later. Whatever, my guru asks as part of the recap, I was the only student who could answer without referring to books. From then, she took my learning seriously; she used to teach advanced lessons to both of us sisters with special interest. Atathala Varnas (one of the most complex basic Thalas), raga Malikaas, complex thalas like khanda chapu etc are few examples of lessons I got at the age of five itself.
A huge recognition ‘Balabharathi‘ at young age
My guru also enrolled my name for an exam conducted by Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal, which include both theory and practical exams. I passed practical exams with high scores from my institute (Balabharathi), but couldn’t pass theory as I was too young to write. My guru was very happy about my success. I could pursue my music from her, till the age of nine, until my father had a transfer of his job to Kerala. Later, I could continue my music under the guidance of various gurus as Smt. Sathi, Sri. Divakaran, Smt. Hemalatha (Kalabhavan). Started learning violin from Sri. Vaikom Salim Kumar (Kalabhavan).
You had an interesting life growing up as your parents happen to live in two different states and you are influenced a lot by Kerala culture. How did you like it? or do you feel out of place always growing up in a different state?
Of course, initially it was really tough to adjust to a completely new environment, language, people, culture. Later, I was really comfortable and felt at home; I must say it is because, I started admiring my way of living in Cochin. I felt very close to nature; all the love from people around me, all the support from my friends to make me understand the language. My friends used to teach me Malayalam investing their time and efforts, so that I could sing Malayalam songs for them. I can proudly say, I am a Malayali too, because listening to my Malayalam, people around me never believe that I am from Andhra. I feel Malayalam is a beautiful language, which added beauty to my life. My passion towards this language, made me win many Malayalam light and cine music competitions. I won the prestigious title “Voice of AIMA” conducted by All India Malayali Association at Bangalore in the year 2014.
Also I want to add an experience about my first guru from Kerala Mrs. Sathi, who encouraged me a lot in learning Malayalam songs like Valampiri churul mudi, a light music originally sung by G.Venugopal sir and still other beautiful songs like Karnikara theerangal etc, as part of competition preparation. This song is very special for me because I won many Malayalam light music competitions, singing this number.
Classical music be it either carnatic or hindustani, in this time and age of India’s music how relevant are these age old traditional music?
“According to me, both carnatic or hindustani resembles alphabets in a language, of which we form words and sentences to express our emotions. So the foundation is always important, at any age or time no one can deny the importance of it. It is not necessary that one can only sing if he / she learns classical. But learning the basics will help a singer to get better grip on their rendition. India’s music is built on our classical raagas and traditions and it is the uniqueness of it that amazes all of us.”
Why do you think we have to value our traditions and culture when western life and its influences take a lot of prominence in modern life in India? or if you think otherwise also say why?
“Traditions and culture are nothing but bundles of experience from ages. We follow the footsteps of our elders to avoid accidents in our lives. Normally, humans intend to introduce a change in their lives. So they adopt new lifestyles such as western to eastern and vice versa. I respect all the other traditions until their implementation doesn’t harm anything that I value. When, I was young I always copied or imitated what I heard in my classical music classes. At around age ten that is when I realized the meaning of raagas and started learning manodharma. I also learned to play violin and many other instruments. I must say learning an instrument made my understanding of each swaras and its place etc. Each note stands for each swaras and so on.
Are you a socially responsible artist? If so how would that be like provided you are an influential singer in India?
“Music heals one’s soul. Many of my friends, listeners convey that they feel refreshed listening to me. Some even request me to sing a particular song, which may help heal them. Then I realized that my singing can bring positive vibes to many. This is one way I can say my music is sued in a socially responsible way. My music finds a purpose always, through making an impact on its listener through my voice and singing and rendition. I think that is my social commitment.”
What is your take on world music? Do you sing any world music?
“I do listen to different styles of music around the globe. Few styles that I like and listen to are Western, Arabian and Spanish. Tried attempting some western English songs and I enjoy it because I know the meaning. I also enjoy mixing up some western into relevant classical numbers.”
What does your music mean to you?
“Music never fails in showing me the presence of God. Music heals me in ways I can’t describe and people around me as well. For me music is pure, it reminds me of the pure love that we all experience and share to many in one’s life. Music can change our minds. I believe that good music always helps in good living. It energizes me.”
How do you go about choosing a song to sing? Any thoughts before you attempt a song?
“Choosing songs will depend on the audience for whom I perform. Before attempting any song, I try to go through the mood and the meaning of the song normally. Knowing the meaning of the song is my first priority. Once we grab the meaning, it will be easy to get the mood out of it. We can get involved in a song only through its mood.”
Do you listen to any music other than film songs? If so, what type of music do you listen to?
“I am interested in listening to carnatic concerts, devotional concerts, Fusions, ghazals and sufi singing. Also I listen to contemporary classical concerts and western symphonies.”
What is your career ambition as far as your music?
“One of my ambitions was to participate in a prestigious reality show running since twenty four years in Telugu called “Padutha Theeyaga” judged by SPB sir. That wish has been successfully achieved and I am blessed to win the title in the year 2015. Going forward I aim to prove myself as a professional singer in the film industry. Wish to sing the compositions of many renowned composers. Love to experiment with various compositions. Also I am in the process of new compositions, Slokas and chantings. I am also very passionate about learning programming with Digital Audio Workstation.
In five years from now where do you want to be as far as music is concerned?
“I feel that a composer can understand a composer better than anyone. I feel that It is not just enough to be a singer alone. A singer can only become a professional, if they have a composer in them. My goal is to be a quick learner as a singer with creative composition skills as well. I wish I could be a most justified playback singer and perform live shows across the world.”
Do you think at this time one can pursue a career as Carnatic or Hindustani vocalist?
“Learning carnatic vocals and making it as a career option is a good choice in my opinion at any time. This can take you to choose two options again. As a profession either we can teach music or utilize the knowledge for self improvement. I feel, for any singing, the importance goes to the audience who listens to you. We need to mold our skills according to the taste of the listeners to be successful in our career.”
Western music: what is your experience singing of both styles (Western and India music?)
“Western music is a way of expression I can say, just like India’s music. The difference I found is using chord progression, which is a brilliant concept. It adds a lot of life to the song. Indian classical compositions are raaga based. Also we use gamakas in our rendition much more than western vibrato. The way of singing differs in the way we express the emotion and the backbone of the expression is definitely dependent on the culture we grew up in.”
Please do list all your favorite singers music directors both in classical music and playback or any other styles you listen to: singing, music director male/ female give examples and explain why they are your favorites
Favorite singers in Cine industry
Sri SPB – His voice quality and expressive playback.
Sri Unnikrishnan – Unique voice and melody filled rendition.
Smt. Janaki Amma- Clarity voice with high playback skills and broad pitch spectrum. Smt. Susheela Amma- Melody voice with crystal clear singing. Smt. Chitra – Clarity voice culture and broad pitch spectrum. Smt. Sadhana Sargam-Clarity voice culture and pitch range with a tint of Hindustani. Smt. Sujatha – Sing with ease, clear gamakas and sweet voice.
Favorite singers classical
Sri. Balamurali – Amazing voice clarity, fast gamakas, abundant classical knowledge, great composer. Sri. O. S. Arun – Unique voice suitable for both western and carnatic, abundant knowledge in classical. Sri. Abhishek Raghuram – Above the world singing with plenty of knowledge in carnatic.
Sri. M. S. Subbulakshmi – Divine voice,university of carnatic music. Sri. M. L. Vasanthakumari – Broad pitch spectrum, University of carnatic music. Sri. Bombay Jayasree – Above the world singing, voice suits for both styles, abundant knowledge in classical.
Sri. Ilayaraja is a perfectionist, experimental, multi-talented, abundant knowledge in carnatic and western music.
Sri. Vidya Sagar – Situation based composer, experimental, abundant knowledge in carnatic and western music.
Sri. A. R. Rahman – highly human, experimental, multiple genre composer, freedom giving composer, broad pitch spectrum singer, abundant knowledge in carnatic and western music.
Any last thoughts from you before we go?
“I sincerely thank you and the whole Smule community for considering me for an interview and trying so hard to showcase me in the best way you could.”
This is a comprehensive list of songs from Priya’s previous music career, including personal albums, her competition songs and selected songs from her Smule profile.
Professional Albums : Thillana Mashup (3 Thillanas are put up together in this mashup).
Sai Sankeerthana (Devotional album)
Onam release 2020 -Malayalam song
The following Paduthathegaya performances of Priya will not work on embeds due to copyright issues and only can be played on YouTube site. We apologize for the inconvenience. Do play them on partner YouTube site
Gopala jagelara (Classical song performed in Grand finale originally sung by Sri M. L. Vasanthakumari and Sri P. Leela)
Smule Profile songs- SPB and Raja Mashup with Anupam Shankar
Shape of you mashup
Manase andhala (Semi-classical film song) originally sung by P. Susheela.
Padalenu pallavaina (Semi-classical song from the Movie Sindhubhairavi). This song is a remarkable mile stone in play back singer K. S. Chitra’s music career winning her National award for best female play back singing.
Bho shambo (Classical song)
Shivadham shiva naamam (Malayalam semi-classical from movie Mazhavillu)
Such talents we came across very rarely from any state we screened so far. Her humility and very personal nature made it more refreshing to work with her. Finally all these process of presenting her music here gave such great happiness; when a long wait culminated in a feature that stand as a permanent record in Priya’s previous career. When she is looking forward and dream big we are very proud to stand behind her bright future. Her enthusiasm and hard work preparing for this feature was absolutely commendable.
For Priya, singing any song comes so naturally. A well prepared singer to make it big in the music industry, who must set her priorities right and work towards that goal she has in her music career. Priya, is one singer who already is on her way to make her own mark in the music industry and has the talent to make it happen. She is highly collaborative and has enough experience in various styles and genres of music. We wish her the best of everything in life and will be happy to support her any endeavors in the future.
LIVE JAM WITH PRIYA PIDAPARTY THIS UPCOMING WEEKEND (Tentative skedule)
Priya will be live either through her own profile or through Melomanies channel next weekend. (09/19/2020, the time is to be announced during this week, stay tuned). This will be a pre-selected list from a request pool. So if you are a singer who wants to be showcasing your talent along with Priya do send a request to her through her profile here.
Highlights from Today’s high quality Live Jam session