Vidya Vox’s music blends western pop sounds with Indian notes

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Vidya Vox (Vidya Iyer) is an American-desi with over six million YouTube subscribers. Her mashups featuring western pop hits with Indian notes. In July 2019, Vidya Vox released her album Mad Dreams.

After I accidentally stumbled upon Vidya Vox (Vidya Iyer’s) videos on YouTube, I went on a devouring spree if you will, of her music for weeks afterward.

Every song I listened to demonstrated her incredible ability to meld western pop hits with Indian sounds. What’s more, her music is deeply rooted in her training as a classical musician. She sings in an array of languages: Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, etc.

Even though this blog veers away from the geographic mandate of Toronto Desi Diaries, I hope I can get away with it.

Let’s start with the basics, so, who’s Vidya Vox?

Vidya’s an Indo-American artist and YouTube sensation. Her videos have amassed huge followings (600 million views and over six million subscribers). She made her debut on YouTube in 2015, since then she has had dozens of chartbusters. In 2017, Vidya dropped her debut EP of original songs in Kuthu Fire.

While on a pre-med track at George Washington University, Vidya began to indulge in her passion for music. She did so by posting YouTube videos. Upon graduation, Vidya took the leap and decided to pursue a music career full time.

With over 153 million views, one of Vidya’s most successful videos, Be Free, is an original song from Kuthu Fire. This song is mixed with the Malayalam folk song “Pallivaalu Bhadravattakam.” Vidya’s mashups have since gained worldwide recognition from the likes of Major Lazer, Diplo & Hrithik Roshan.

This Kerala boat song is my favourite. It evokes memories of my childhood.

What’s new with Vidya’s music?

In July this year, Vidya released Mad Dreams. This album features five original songs (songs written by Vidya and composer Shanker Tucker) that exhibit the American desi’s ease in both worlds —U.S. and India.

In her own words: Vidya Vox

About Mad Dreams

Growing up in the west as a first-generation Indian-American, I always felt like I was living a double life.

At home, I was immersed in a traditional Indian culture, eating dosas, singing Carnatic music, and listening to A.R. Rahman, and the second I stepped on my school bus, I would eat pizza and listen to Destiny’s Child and Backstreet Boys. At school, I was an outcast and felt embarrassed about being different. Mad Dreams represents a pivotal time in my journey to reclaim and embrace my bicultural identity while sharing messages of hope and empowerment.

Here’s what she says on each of the five tracks

Appadi Podu Di

Is incredibly personal. As only 1 of 2 Indian kids in middle school, the other kids had many questions for me. ‘Does your house smell like curry?’ ‘Why are your elbows so dark?’ All questions were about why I looked different. To this day, we are sold products and images to cover these “differences.” I took all the things that were said to me and reclaimed them in this song. My favorite line is Dark knees, dark eyes, no powder, my sun-filled skin holds power. The lyric Appadi Podu Di, in Tamil literally translates to “Give it back!” and my uncle often said it to me growing up as a reaction to one of my snarky comebacks. As a South Asian woman, this song is an anthem about loving the skin you’re in.

Indo-American singer/songwriter has amassed some six million followers on her YouTube channel. Vidya Vox released Mad Dreams, an intensely personal album featuring five songs. Image courtesy, Vidya Vox.com

Mad Dreams

was inspired by the story of Indian goddess Parvati, who was doing penance to gain the affections of Lord Shiva, the Destroyer and Lord of Dance. The mridangam and chalanga dance bell sound in the chorus are traditional sounds used in traditional Shiva songs. Hearing this story growing up, Parvati’s concentration always amazed me. I always wondered, would this infatuation and chase drive her mad? She’s in her world of mad dreams. 

Butterfly

is about the process of taking risks and finding your footing, which is difficult but always worthwhile. I always feel better in the end. I tend to hide in my cocoon when the going gets tough. However, it’s important to be proud of who you are, take a leap of faith and find your wings!


Lose the Night

is about a particular memory of when Shankar and I were visiting New Delhi many years ago. We were in an auto-rickshaw driving around at night. It was hot and hazy, and although the streets were crowded, it felt like we were the only two people in the city. 

Look at the Lights

Brings me back to when I was living with my mom. I had big dreams of moving to Los Angeles. Some days, I felt that I’d never be able to leave home. Other days, I was more hopeful. Making the move to Los Angeles was life-changing, but once the lights went out, I still missed home. The instrumental sarangi line that echoes throughout the chorus represents a longing for home, wherever you may be. 

Mad Dreams is available on iTunes, Spotify, and all streaming platforms.

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Jazzy B, Nikhita Gandhi, Yasser Desai, and others to perform at free outdoor concerts across the Greater Toronto Area, July’19

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Jazzy B, the King of Bhangra and his band, will headline Vibrant Brampton Festival’s free outdoor concert, Sunday, July 28 at the Garden Square. Photo: Vibrant Brampton Festival

Happy Canada Day! Here’s your South Asian event calendar for July’19

Monday, July 1

Event: Canada Day

Details: Dancing Damsels Inc. will be hosting a Canada Day celebration at the Albert Campbell Square, 150 Borough Dr. Scarborough from 5-8 p.m. This free event will include participation from Canada’s truly multicultural cauldron.
Contact: For more information visit here

Tuesday, July 2-6

Event: Toronto International Dance Festival Workshops

Details: A series of dance workshops in preparation of the Toronto International Dance Festival will take place at the Albert Campbell Square, 150 Borough Dr. in Scarborough. Participants will be introduced to different dance forms by different instructors.
Contact: For information about the workshop, contact here

Thursday, July 4

Event: Rath Yatra

Details: A Lord Jagannath Dev’s Rath Yatra will take place at the Bangladesh Canada Hindu Mandir, 16 Dohme Ave. East York at 7:30 p.m.
Contact: For more information, contact here

Saturday, July, 6

Event: Tabla recital

Details: Toronto Tabla Ensemble will present the 2019 Student Recital at the Westedge Community Church, 157 Lakeshore Rd. W. at 6 p.m. The concert will feature performances by students from across the GTA. Cost of tickets is $20/person.
Contact: For more information visit here

Event: Standup by Kanan Gill
Details: Kanan Gill, a well-known comic will perform at the Ryerson Theatre, 43 Gerrard St. E, at 7 p.m. as part of his solo show Teetar.
Contact: For tickets and more visit here

Saturday, July 13-14

Event: Festival of India

Details: Toronto’s 47th Annual Festival of India will launch with a spectacular parade that will cruise down Yonge Street, beginning at Yonge & Bloor, and make its way down to the lake. During the parade, three ornate, 40-foot tall floats will be hand-pulled by participants amidst ecstatic singing, drumming, and dancing creating a wondrous, carnival-like atmosphere.
Contact: For information about the festival, visit here

Event: Festival of South Asia

Details: Gerrard St. E. between Glenside and Coxwell Avenues is “Little India.” On July 13-14, the streets will come alive for the Festival of South Asia, a multi-disciplinary arts and food festival showcasing a slice of South Asian culture. Festivities run from noon to 11 p.m. on both the days. Contact: For more details visit here

Monday, July 15 – 28

Event: Visual Arts of South Asia Festival

Details: V.A.S.A. – Arts Festival and exhibition’s aim is to introduce the unique flavour of South Asian art with an underlying objective of bringing together Canadian artists from different cultures. The event showcases South Asian culture as it evolves in this country and integrates with Canadian values. The exhibition will take place at Beaux-Arts Brampton, 70 Main St. N. Opening reception is taking place on July 18 from 6-9 p.m.
Contact: For gallery, hours visit here

Monday, July 15-18

Event: Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) in Toronto

Details: She’s known as the “hugging saint” and she will be at the Delta Hotel by Marriott- Toronto Airport, 655 Dixon Rd. Toronto, ON M9W 1J3. There are morning as well as evening programs, retreats, and Devi Bhava.
Contact: For more information visit here

Thursday, July 18-20

Event: Bollywood MonsterMashup

Details: This three-day family event is a celebration of all things music and Bollywood and its influence in Canada. On Thursday, the popular festival will kick-off the #BollywoodMonster launch party & comedy night showcasing a lineup of hilarious standup comedy acts and a silent disco. This is a by-invite-only event.

The public can take in two free concerts at Celebration Square in Mississauga July 19-20. This year’s performers are Bollywood crooners Nikhita Gandhi and Yasser Desai. Nikhita (“Qaafirana” from the movie Kedarnath) will perform Friday, July 19, whereas Yasser (‘Naino ne baandhi” from Gold) will take the stage, Saturday (July 20).
Contact: For more details visit here

Saturday, July 27-28

Event: Vibrant Brampton

Details: Organized by the non-profit group Arts and Culture Initiative of South Asia (ACISA,) the 4th annual Vibrant Brampton will bring two fun-filled days of music and dance. On Saturday, you may want to head to the Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Ln. in Brampton at 6 p.m. to listen to the Indian Idol winner Sreerama Chandra. Sunday’s outdoor concert bring Jazzy B to the Garden Square in Brampton.
Contact: For more details visit here

Toronto’s 47th Festival of India (Rath Yatra) will take place July 13-14.

Wishing you a very Happy Diwali, Toronto!

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A copper idol of Goddess Lakshmi in midst of red flowers

Hindus worldwide will celebrate Diwali on Nov. 7. The festival is marked by prayers to Goddess Lakshmi.

Friday, Nov. 2

Event: Diwali Dhamaka

Details: Celebrate Diwali Dhamaka with the KC Group. Celebrations are happening at the Bombay Palace, 200 Advance Blvd. in Brampton at 6 p.m.
Contact: For tickets to Diwali Dhamaka visit here

Saturday, Nov. 3

Event: Diwali Dance Night

Details: Head to the party room at the Greenbriar Recreation Centre, 1100 Central Park Dr. at 7:45 p.m. Organizers are promising music, food, and fun to celebrate the Festival of Lights.
Contact: For more information visit here

Event: Hindu Heritage Month Celebrations

Details: November is Hindu Heritage Month. Commemorate the month at the International Centre, 6900 Airport Rd. on Saturday, Nov. 3.
Contact: For more details visit here

Event: Anokhi Media anniversary event

Details: Anokhi Media will celebrate its 15th anniversary in a two-day event taking place at the Sheraton Centre, Toronto Hotel at 123 Queen St. W. on Saturday, Nov. 3.
Contact: For more information visit here

Friday, Nov. 9

Event: Standup Comedy Live

Details: Indian comics Rahul Subramanian and Kunal Kamra will perform at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, John Bassett Theatre, 255 Front St. W. Toronto at 7 p.m.
Contact: For tickets visit here

Saturday, Nov. 17

deepavali

Hindus and Sikhs in Toronto will celebrate the festival of lights, Diwali, Nov.7.

Event: Music Festival

Details: The Vraj Canada Intercultural Music Festival will celebrate Canada’s multiculturalism through performances by several artists. The event will take place at the Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr. Toronto at 6:30 p.m.
Contact: For tickets and more visit here

Sunday, Nov. 18

Event: The Kishore Kaka Show

Details: Kishore Kaka aka Smit Pandya is an actor, radio jockey, comic and YouTube sensation with more than 100,000 subscribers. The well-known standup will be performing at the SVBF, 80 Brydon Dr. Etobicoke at 6 p.m. Sanjay Raval is the special guest.
Contact: For tickets and more visit here

Event: SOCH workshop

Details: Supporting Our Community’s Health (SOCH) an initiative aimed at educating and creating awareness about mental health will be hosting its workshop, “Addictions- A Rising Concern in the South Asian Community,” at the Cyril Clark Library (20 Loafers Lake Ln.) in Brampton at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18
Contact: For more details visit here

Wednesday, Nov. 28

Event: Mental health conference

Details: Supporting the Mental Health of South Asian Youth and Families: Navigating Intergenerational Challenges within the South Asian Community, a one-day conference will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the YWCA, 87 Elm St.
Contact: For more information visit The Collaborative for South Asian Mental Health

All month-long

Event: Plays/workshops

Details: Under Artistic Director Ravi Jain, Managing Director Owais Lightwala and Executive Producer Kelly Read, Why Not Theatre presents a season of award-winning, pioneering, and thought-provoking theatre, created in Canada and around the world, for 2018/19.

In November, Mouthpiece will begin the final leg of its international tour. The award-winning play recently premiered as a feature film at the Toronto International Film Festival, and the 2018/19 theatre tour begins in Halifax and ends in Berkeley, CA!
November sees a new incarnation of Like Mother, Like Daughter, a funny and emotional show where real mothers and daughters create and perform it, using their own lives and stories in an improvised format. Originally conceived in Montreal by Why Not Theatre and Complicité London UK, Like Mother, Like Daughter is being produced all over the world with local mothers and daughters. There will be eight performances of Like Mother, Like Daughter at the 918 Bathurst Centre, each one culminating in a communal meal, presented by the Koffler Centre of the Arts.

For more information visit Whynot Theatre, visit here.

 

 

Wait, it’s only September, but how is it that there’s Garba in Toronto already?

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garba dance

Saturday, Sept. 1

Event: Rahat Fateh Ali Concert

Details: Paramount (formerly Hershey) Centre, 5500 Rose Cherry Pl. Mississauga is the place to be with well-known singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The Pakistani singer (nephew of Nusrat Ali Fateh and son of Farrukh Fateh Ali) is known for several chartbusters such as Jag Ghoomeya, Tere mast mast do naain and more. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m.
Contact: For tickets to Rahat Fateh Ali concert, visit here.

Sunday, Sept. 2

Event: Krishna Janmashtami Festival

Details: Celebrate Lord Krishna’s birthday at the Shree Jagannath Temple, 9893 Torbram Rd. Brampton at 6 p.m.
Contact: For more details on Janmashtami, visit here.

Sunday, Sept. 9

Event: Seerat Fashion Show + Expo

Details: A global fashion show + expo featuring Indian as well as international designers is taking place at the Galaxy Grand Convention Centre, 200 Advance Blvd. in Brampton from noon to 6 p.m. Highlight will be a special ramp walk endearing bijis (Grandmas) will walk with their granddaughters in threads by Dinesh Ramsay, Anshul Mathur, Kesaj Couture and more. The event is by Laadliyah.
Contact: For tickets to Seerat, visit here.

Saturday, Sept. 15

Event: SNA ONAM Celebrations

Details: Sree Narayana Association (SNA) Toronto will be hosting its annual multicultural event to support Kerala Relief Fund. Festivities will take place at Chinguacousy Secondary School, 1370 Williams Pkwy. At 5 p.m.
Contact: For tickets and more visit here.

Event: 6th Annual Arohi Festival

Details: Malhaar Group Toronto is hosting an evening of classical music and dance at 4 p.m. at the Salvation Army Meadowlands, 187 Church Rd. Ancaster.
Contact: For more details on the Arohi Festival, visit here

Sunday, Sept. 16

Event: Gujarati Jalso

Details: Swar Sadhana is hosting a jalso at Castlebrooke Secondary School, 10 Gardenbrooke trail, Brampton at 5 p.m. The event will feature Gujarati folk music, sugam sangeet as well as Navratri/Dandiya.
Contact: For tickets to the jalso, visit here

Saturday, Sept. 22

Event: Garba Dhamaal 2018

Details: Sur Prem Entertainers are taking over Brampton Soccer Centre, 1495 Sandalwood Pkwy. E. starting at 7:30 p.m. for the Garbaa Dhamaal 2018.
Contact: For tickets to the Garba Dhamaal, visit here.

Wednesday, Sept. 26

Event: South Asian Speed Dating

Details: Single in the City is hosting a speed dating event for South Asians at the Duke of Somerset, 655 Bay St. Toronto at 7:30 p.m.
Contact: For tickets and other information about the South Asian Speed Dating, visit here.

Sunday, Sept. 30

Event: Must Be Kismet wedding show

Details: Must Be Kismet, a South Asian wedding show is happening at the Universal EventSpace, 6250 Hwy. 7 in Vaughan from noon to 6 p.m.
Contact: For details about the wedding show, visit here.

Concerts take over the Toronto Desi events calendar in April ’18

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Pritam

Sunday April 1

Event: Illairajah Live Concert
Details: He’s a living giant among composers from the South Indian films and he’s stopping by for an exclusive concert at the Air Canada Centre (ACC), 40 Bay St. Toronto at 6:30 p.m. The musical maestro will be performing with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra from Hungary and Indian classical musicians.
Contact: Here 

Friday, April 6

Event: Everlasting Melodies
Details: Presented by Amaya Entertainment, this evening taking place at Symphony Banquet Hall, Mississauga, 959 Derry Rd. E. at 8, will feature 10 artists and musicians. Concert will be hosted by Simply Shayan, a comic.
Contact: Here

Saturday, April 7

Event: Hemang Mehta Concert
Details: Gujju singer Hemang Mehta will perform at the Castlebrooke Secondary School, 10 Gardenbrooke trail, Brampton at 6 p.m. Concert presented by Swar Sadhana Music Lovers Club.
Contact: Here 

Sunday, April 8

Event: Pritam Concert
Details: Well-known Bollywood composer responsible for hits like Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Dhangal, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and more will be coming to Richoh Coliseum, 45 Manitoba Dr. Toronto along with a troupe of artists: Harshdeep Kaur, Shalmali Kolgade, Nakash Aziz and more. Concert kicks off at 6:30 p.m.
Contact: Here

Saturday, April 14

Event: Jay Vasavada (Author/Speaker)
Details: Shabd Prarthana will host Jayvasavada at the Port Credit Secondary School Theatre, 70 Mineola Dr. Mississauga at 6 p.m. Vasavada is a popular young author, well-known among theGujarati communities across the world. His versatile columns, books and speeches cover various aspects of society and culture
Contact: Here

Thursday, April 26

Event: South Asians with Style
Details: The SAPNA Toronto team will present ‘South Asians With Style Part Deux’ at the Thompson Toronto, 550 Wellington St. E. at 6 p.m. The event offers the opportunity to network with the finest professionals across Ontario.
Contact: Here 

Saturday April 28

Event: Atif Aslam and Neha Kakkar
Details: Pakistani singer/songwriter and actor Atif Aslam (Dil diyan gallan) and Neha Kakkar, Bollywood songstress will rock the Hershey Centre (oops, Paramount Centre), 5500, Rose Cherry Place, Mississauga at 7 p.m.
Contact: Here

Sunday April 29

Event: Phir Le Aaya Dil
Details: Hrishikesh Ranade, Prajakta Joshi-Ranade and Nihira Joshi will present an evening of soulful Bollywood hits at the Glenforest Secondary School, 3575 Fieldgate Rd. Mississauga at 5 p.m.
Contact: Here

Happy Holi, Toronto! Check out the places in GTA where you can drive away the winter blues

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Woman blows a plume of pink colour

Toronto marks the Hindu festival of colours, Holi 2018.

Saturday, March 3

Event: Rang Barse
Details: The KC Group’s annual colourfest celebrating Holi is back. This year’s event kicks-off at the National Banquet, 7355 Torbram Rd., Mississauga at 11 a.m. For tickets and more, visit the website below.
Contact: Here

Event: Holi Milan
Details: Uttar Pradeshis in Canada (UPICA) are celebrating Holi at the Grand Empire Banquet, 100 Nexus Ave. Brampton at 6 p.m.
Contact: Here

Event: How to cope with depression
Details: Supporting our Community’s Health (SOCH), founded by Maneet Chahal and Jasmeet Chagger will host an workshop, “How to cope with depression,” at the Cyril Clark branch library, 20 Loafer’s Lake Ln., Brampton from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Contact: Here

Sunday, March 4

Event: Holi Dhamaka – 2018
Details: Bollywood dance, Holi colours and sumptuous food will make this truly unforgettable. Holi Dhamaka takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Preet Palace Banquet, 5835 Kennedy Rd. Mississauga.
Contact: Here

Saturday, March 10

Event: The World of the Fatimids
Details: The Aga Khan Museum at 77 Wynford Dr. in Toronto, will unveil, The World of Fatimids, an exhibit revealing art and artifacts from the 10th and 11th centuries from the Mediterranean, Southern Europe and near East. Luminous ceramics, intricate carvings shaped from rock crystal, and artifacts decorated with Kufic calligraphy and embellished with vines and leaves are some of the luxury objects in this exhibition. Exhibition runs until July 2.
Contact: Here

Friday, March 16

Event: International Women’s Day Gala
Details: Join a lineup of exceptional women as they mark International Women’s Day. Guests include KayRay (YouTuber/actor) and Komal Minhas (film producer/investor). Minhas will deliver the keynote address at the 16th Annual Women’s International Women’s Day Gala by the Punjabi Community Health Services (PCHS). Event will take place at the Grand Empire Banquet And Convention Centre, 100 Nexus Ave. Brampton at 6:30 p.m.
Contact: Here

Saturday, March 24

Event: Bollywood Dance & Fitness
Details: Pure Soul Energy, a dance/philanthropy group headed by Ritu Neb will offer Bollywood Fitness dance and fitness classes on Saturdays (starting March 24) at 180 Sandalwood Pkwy E. (second floor) from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Call: 647-208-0939 to register.
Contact: Here

Event: Celebrating Womanhood 2018
Details:  The Indo-Canadian Arts and Culture (ICACI) is hosting its 6th annual Celebrating Womanhood Gala 2018 at Red Rose Convention Centre, 1233 Derry Rd. E. in at 6:30 p.m. onwards. There will be an awards presentation (Woman Hero Awards), fashion show and more.
Contact: Here

Merry Christmas, Toronto

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Toronto Desi Diaries wishes everyone a Merry Christmas.

Christmas

Sunday, Dec. 10

Event: SOCH workshop
Details: Supporting Our Community’s Health (SOCH), will be hosting a series of mental health workshops, to increase awareness and education about what depression is and how it can be treated. These interactive workshops will take place in both English and Punjabi at the Chinguacousy Branch Library, 150 Central Park Dr. at 1:30. On the agenda: Kundalini Yoga for Depression by Harvir Grewal.
Contact: Here

Event: SACHHS Gala
Details: South Asian Canadians Health & Social Services (SACHSS), a registered not- for-profit charity offering services that include mental health, addiction, stress management, anger management and more is hosting a fundraising gala at Natraj Banquet Hall, 7275 Torbram Rd., Mississauga at 5 p.m. Dr. Hamid Slimi is the guest speaker.
Contact: Here

Saturday, Dec. 16

Event: Swayamvar Toronto
Details: Desi Dreamz is hosting its singles event for South Asians between 26 to 47 years. The event will take place at Novotel Toronto, 3670 Hurontario St., Mississauga from3 p.m. onward.
Contact: Here

Friday, Dec. 22

Event: Disney on Ice
Details: Enjoy the magic of winter with family at Disney On Ice with Reach For The Stars, a brand new show featuring a host of beloved Disney characters and stories. The shows run until Jan. 1 at Toronto Theatre, 1 Blue Jays Way.
Contact: Here

Sunday, Dec. 31

Event: New Year’s Eve
Details: PGA International will be hosting its annual New Year’s bash at Moonlight Convention Centre, 6835 Professional Crt., Mississauga. Festivities start at 7:30 p.m. and will continue until 2:30 p.m.
Contact: Here

Event: Bollywood Hungama
Details: Bollywood Tunes and Kalpesh Patel are hosting NYE 2018 at Chandani Convention Centre, 5 Gateway Blvd. Brampton from 6:30 p.m. onward.
Contact: Here