Raja Kumari: Think of art when I see India

Updated: Dec 17, 2018, 08:54 IST | Sonia Lulla | Mumbai

Having rendered the single, Shook, Raja Kumari talks of her foundation that aims at encouraging arts among kids

Raja Kumari. Pic/Instagram
Raja Kumari. Pic/Instagram

Before making her presence felt as an independent artiste in India over the past few years, Raja Kumari has juggled many a credible act during her stint as songwriter for the A-league in America. With names like Gwen Stefani, Iggy Azalea, Fifth Harmony and Fall Out Boy as collaborators, Kumari even found herself vying for a Grammy Award in 2015. Her stint with Stefani, she says, is among her most memorable moments.

"She is the real deal," says Kumari, who released her latest single, Shook, earlier this month. "[While writing songs for her] I noticed that no matter what she was going through emotionally, she was always on [at work]. She showed up with her heels on, eye-liner in place and red lipstick, and prepared to come to the booth like she was heading on stage. That made me realise that I had to be fully committed to my music, if I intended to establish myself."

Always willing to showcase her love for India, Kumari speaks of her time spent in America with a hint of apprehension. "In America, I face this problem of Indian-ness. I'm made to wonder if I am too Indian for the West? In India, I never experience that. So I love being here." It's possibly moments like these that drove her to write Shook, that talks about "being aware". "This song says that if you're conscious, and have your third eye open, you are part of this army of people who want to be good."

In a bid to give back to her country, she has set up Kumari Kids, an initiative that hopes to mentor children who aspire to make a career in the arts. "When the world looks at India, they think of doctors and engineers. When I do, I think of art. I've been lucky to travel the world with my song-writing [projects], and it's important to share the knowledge I've received. I want to encourage the arts here, especially among women."

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