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Spotlight interview with Jazz piano sensation Charu Suri

We recently covered the musicians latest release which was her stunning new single "Bluesy"

along with her incredible talent and love for Jazz the artist has an amazing story, we sat down with her to discuss her road to the US, her start in music in her homeland of India and of course the creative process for the stunning collection of music she has released over the last number of years. We also discuss what lies in store and if we can expect any new music in the near future!

1. Of all the genres you could have chosen, what was it about Jazz that attracted you?

"I have been improvising since I was a child, but never got into jazz formally until a few years ago with a visit to New Orleans, to see the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The genre fascinated me because no two performances were alike, but there was still a lot of structure within that improvisational framework."

2. India has an array of spectacular culture especially when it comes to music, how has your heritage influenced your musicianship?

"A great deal! I grew up listening to all the Indian classical masters, including Mandolin Srinivas and M.S. Subalakshmi and Ravi Shankar. Every morning, my father would play an indian raga (basically a modal scale), and the sounds would fill the air, depending on the time of the day. So I grew up listening to morning ragas, afternoon and evening ragas and learned a lot about improvisation from them."

3. Could you elaborate on the journey from India to the US, it must have been a big lifestyle shift. Once in the USA did your career begin to grow more?

"Yes, it was definitely a big move for me. I remember coming to the U.S. and trying to adjust to the food (I missed my mom's cooking so much!) and the harsh winters. But my music career definitely got a shot in the arm. I composed music for a program at Princeton (where I went to school) and it was an atelier program curated by the late Toni Morrison and she got Yo Yo Ma and the bass player, Edgar Meyer to perform my work. Imagine that! And many more opportunities including writing work for a chamber orchestra etc."

4. You have won some incredibly high regarded awards for your piano skills are you self taught?

"Ha, no! I owe my training to my late piano teacher, Mrs. Gita Menon, who was a wonderful instructor in Chennai, India. She showed me tough love and was a disciplinarian and my playing abilities improved greatly as a result of her no nonsense approach."

5. Over the years you have played in some outstanding venues is there a favorite performance you have?

"Yes, our Carnegie Hall performance for sure! It will always be a highlight. It has been a dream to play there since I was a child, and that dream came true."

6. What is the process like for you when it comes to creating new music?

"I have to have a strong emotion or theme first: for me that core of the song needs to be there before I start the work, whether it's an Indian raga, or a Songbook song. I need to have something to say, and then the rest of the song sort of works itself out. The melody almost always comes first, then the lyrics."

7. Listening to your work, all the instruments sound live recorded did you find this challenging in the studio?

"No, it was actually a great experience! My band records so many tracks in the studio (not only for myself, but with other musicians) and they're real pros at this. Most of our stuff was done in a few takes."

8. How has the current situation with the pandemic affected you regarding any live performances? Have you been able to perform online?

"It's been challenging for sure, but we have been performing virtually quite often: I've put out a piece a day during the first three months of the pandemic, and still put out work every week. I've done several livestreams and also some recorded in HD. The pandemic has made me realize that creativity is essential."

9. Should your followers expect new music in 2021?

"Yes! I have a new raga jazz album coming out, a New Age album, and several Songbook singles. A lot of new music and I'll be plenty busy in the studio!"

10. Do you have any messages for fans?

"I'm really and truly grateful for every listener out there. Give me a shout at @charusurimusic (Instagram/Twitter) or Facebook @CharuSuriTrio and let me know what you enjoyed and what you want to hear more of. I love connecting with people and hope to stay in touch constantly through social media. We have a lot of new music coming out, and catch out performances virtually (all dates will be on Spotify, and on our website).

Thank you!"


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