From Bombay to Boston, Avanti Nagral, a graduate of both Harvard and Berklee College of Music, is a fresh addition to the roster of amazing performers at 5X Fest this year.
A graduate from Harvard University in the fields of Psychology and Global Health, Nagral is widely known for her melodious voice and social activism.
In an interview with 5X Press, this powerhouse talked about music being a part of her life from a very young age, her advocacy for women's issues, and her upcoming performance at the Blockparty.
When asked about when and how she decided to pursue a career as a professional singer, Avanti said her love of music started young.
“Music has been a huge part of my life growing up. I used to sing Bhajans and was trained in classical music, [and] I also went to a Christian school and sang in a choir,” she said.
“Right before joining college, I also took a gap year to pursue a professional theatre production. Growing up in a South Asian household, music was always a huge part of my life but there was no notion of pursuing it professionally.”
Nagral said it was her family that gave her the early exposure to music. Her father plays the tabla and music was always highly respected, admired and practiced in the household.
Although initially hesitant, she said her family is fully supportive of her musical journey, and have played a huge role in her evolution as an artist.
“We used to do these little fun father-daughter concerts when I was a kid, and after lockdown we started again. We posted it on the internet and people really enjoyed it,” said Avanti.
Her strong connection to her family and their influence on her journey is not just limited to her as a musician.
She creates content online regarding conversations with her grandmother regarding sexuality, consent and all other issues that are typically not discussed in South Asian families.
“It is extremely important for me, whether it is music or my content, to engage with those conversations and talk about women’s sexual health and sexuality and bring them to the forefront, whether it's some of my songs talking about sexual health, mental health and consent, or trying to have these conversations on the internet and bridge the generational gap.”
She also said she always knew she wanted to bridge her musical and educational interests, given that both taught her so much.
“I always knew I wanted to do something in the space of global health and combine it with arts because I saw the impact art can make and how it can change somebody. Doing the theatre show made me realize I loved being on stage and couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” she said.
She said she began to use her social media as a way to build community and talk about issues close to her during the lockdown, but she was hesitant at first.
“I had this notion that I had to be this successful singer before talking about social issues,” she said.
“During lockdown, I was missing being on stage and that human connection, so I decided to put up other content on social media to gain that connection that I was really missing. About the same time, after my grandfather passed away, [and] I started spending time with my grandma wherein she and I would watch [films] together. She was fascinated by new age media and did not look down upon it, it was very interesting to see.”
She talked about one notable social media moment, where she showed her grandmother the music video to Cardi B and Meg Thee Stallions “WAP.”
“One day I showed her the video of WAP, and what I had thought would be a hilarious reaction video, turned into a conversation regarding sexuality and gender equality,” she said.
“People on the internet really loved it and they can never really say no to watching a video with a grandma talking about these things. There are hours of conversations that go behind each of these videos, educating and talking about these issues.”
Nagral has also been a part of the prestigious theatre production of the Vagina Monologues in India, and is now all set to perform at 5X Festival this weekend.
Nagral is a shining example of what an artist can achieve if they put their heart and soul into it, even if it means blending different interests and passions.
We are super pumped to watch her create magic on the 5X stage this weekend, and we hope you are too!
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________About the author: Roshni is a self-proclaimed Comedy Queen who specializes in laughing at her own jokes. Her hobbies include making people smile, watching movies and analysing them, reading books, practicing yoga (occasionally), hogging on well-cooked biryani and scrolling through dog videos and memes on Instagram. Her love for writing stems from her love for art in general, which is fuelled by her background in theatre. Catch on her instagram at @roshni_rakshit daily, where she regularly shares her experience with movies and occasionally offends people with her political sense of humour.