He shot to YouTube fame with his rendition of ‘Manmohini Morey’ in collaboration with clarinet player Shankar Tucker. That was five years ago. The clip has garnered 2,570,269 views and over 19,000 subscriptions. In 2012, he bagged the Karnataka State Award for best playback singer for ‘Saavira Kiranava Chelli’ from the Kannada film Ball Pen. His song ‘Aila Aila’ from the movie I in 2015 with
A R Rahman drew over 11.9 million views on YouTube.
His biggest, however, is his rendition of Ed Sheeran’s song ‘Shape Of You’, in which he incorporated Indian ragas with Carnatic notes. The video released on YouTube on April 25, and within three days it was watched 3.7 million times. With this, India-born Los Angeles-based 27-year old Aditya Rao has become a global sensation in fusion music.
Aditya’s story is about staying true to the roots. He started learning music when he was five—his mother is a veena player and his father is a singer. After relocating to the US when he was seven, he continued to take music lessons from his Bengaluru-based guru K Ramesh through audio cassettes. Later, the lessons shifted to Skype.
“Since I have a business background in the entertainment industry, I was very interested in the phenomenal growth and impact that Indian Raga (an online platform for music) was providing for students worldwide. Sriram Emani, CEO of Indian Raga, connected me with Mahesh Raghvan and Vinod Krishnan via a Google Hangouts call. And that’s how it all started,” he says about his version of ‘Shape Of You’.
Mahesh, Sriram, and Vinod worked with Aditya on ‘Shape Of You’ online. While Aditya lives in Los Angeles, Mahesh is in Dubai, Vinod in Minneapolis and Sriram splits his time between the US and India. Hence, the song was brainstormed, drafted, recorded, edited, and mastered remotely. “We are yet to meet as a group,” says Aditya.
His tenure with Qyuki, a digital media platform launched by filmmaker Shekhar Kapur and A R Rahman, opened the door for a meeting with the musician in Los Angeles. “We’ve worked together on multiple projects for four years, but each experience feels completely new and enlightening,” says Aditya.
“I’m happiest when I’m working on music, be it through writing new music, collaborating with others or just meeting a friend who shares my passion for the art. I’ll continue doing what I love the most, and see what unfolds as time progresses. Live long and prosper,” says the tennis and cooking enthusiast.