Music crosses borders is a well-known fact, but there are many who cross borders and dedicate themselves to learn music. One such Music enthusiast is the US-based Ahi Ajayan. She spent two years in India to learn Carnatic Music and then made it a habit to return to India, twice a year to learn the art. The 18-year-old Ahi Ajayan, with close to 50 performances, is ready to woo the Hyderabadis with her Vocals on Sunday 9th January 2022 at Shilparamam Madhapur.
Speaking exclusively to Natyahasini, Ahi Ajayan says that she is currently learning music under Smt. Suguna Varadachary, (disciple of Musiri Subramaniam Iyer) and Sri Palai C.K. Ramachandran (direct disciple of Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyengar). She began learning Music at the age of three under Vidya Subramanian, a disciple of Vidwan Lalgudi Jayaraman, for about a year-and-a-half. Later, she enrolled with Rajarajeshwary Bhat in Houston, US, in September 2007. Ahi acknowledges that learning under various Gurus has been a wonderful experience. “Each guru has provided me with technique, wisdom, and musical style that is extremely unique to their school of music. The growth that I have shown in music over the years is all lent to my wonderful teachers who have guided me along the way,” she confesses.
Ahi has been clean bowled by her gurus Suguna Varadachari, Palai CK Ramachandran and musicians like TM Krishna and Ranjani Gayatri. “Suguna Mami has an incomparable musical style and has the ability to captivate anyone with her soulful singing. She is one of the most knowledgeable, humble and brilliant musicians I know and I could only hope to emulate a fraction of her artistry in my music,” she admits. The US-based singer also adds that guru Palai CK Ramachandran’s musical style is filled with finesse, nuance and attention to detail with ragas and lyrics. “Both of my gurus have strong musical lineage, as they are direct disciples of Musiri Sir and Semmangudi Sir, respectively. Finally, musicians such as TM Krishna and Ranjani Gayatri who are able to captivate audiences with their soulful energy and powerhouse vocals are the people I would like to emulate,” she says.
Born Singer: The teenager vocalist shares that her parents always tell her that she was basically born singing. “As a baby, I was constantly humming or singing while playing or doing any sort of activity. My day care teacher told my mom that I ‘brought music to the school’ and due to my singing, all the other students were singing as well. My mom also used to tell me that she used to play music all the time while pregnant with me, and she believes part of my interest stemmed from before my birth,” she says, quickly adding that there are a few musicians in her mom’s side.
Kudos to the youngster, who has been performing solos in the US and India since she turned 10. “I have been coming to perform during the season since 2013. From 2013 to 2015, I actually lived in Chennai to learn music from my Guru and spend more time perfecting my craft. After I moved back to the US, I continued to come back to India twice a year; once in summer to learn and then in December to give concerts. Performing during the season is definitely a daunting task! There is a huge responsibility that comes with performing in terms of practice and presentation. I tend to feel nervous, regardless of the venue or audience size because I always want to put my best foot forward. However, once I start singing, all my worries melt away as I get caught up in the melodies,” she states.
Full Time Music Career: Ahi, who has close to 50 performances, admits drawing a crowd can definitely be difficult for a growing artist such as herself. “Those who choose to come in person or view online are always extremely supportive and encouraging,” she says. The 18-year-old Ahi, who is set to join University in the Fall of 2022, would love to pursue music full time in the future. “Irrespective of the form or type, I just know I always want music to be a huge part of my life. For me, music is more than a hobby or a passion, it’s my entire being. As my parents tell me, I was basically born with music, so it only makes sense that it’s a main character of every chapter in my life,” she says, with lot of hope.
The teenager finished 12th grade in 2021 and decided to take a gap year before college to focus on music. “During this year, I have planned to explore varying musical opportunities while still furthering myself in Carnatic music,” she says. Ahi’s parents both work at Rice University in Houston. “My dad Pulickel Ajayan is a professor/scientist in Materials Science and my mom Poornima Ajayan is a finance analyst. A huge thank you to my life-long supporters, my family. I would be nowhere without the sacrifices made by my parents, the love from my sister Anakha Ajayan and their constant belief in me as an artist and my music,” she says before signing off.