Forget Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Ariana Grande for a little while. We’ve got ten women right here, on homegrown soil, who have such magical voices, they could take musicians in the West for all their money! You’ll often find them serenading a niche audience at popular cafes and pubs, or you’ll catch them at the next big music festival, rocking out on stage. These are ten of our favourite lady indie musicians in the country who deserve a dedicated playlist on your devices.1. Kamakshi Khanna
The Delhi-based singer/songwriter has a steady fan-following that she has earned for herself over the years. She was also a prominent part of The Stage, an English music reality show in India that quite possibly made her a household name. Kamakshi released her debut album ‘Cakewalk’, sometime last year, which is music inspired from various different eras and is beautifully put together by her simplistic songwriting skills.
Resemblances: Ella Fitzgerald, Sara Bareilles, Christina Aguilera, Nina Simone
2. Aditi Veena
An architect by default, she moonlights as Ditty, her artistic alter ego. She’s been around for quite a while, as part of ‘Dityt & Mark’—comprising of her and Mark Aranha. She has travelled across various regions—in India and the world—and draws her musical inspirations from various global elements. Aditi’s first EP, ‘Mumblings’ is inspired by the impressions left on her life by four different gentlemen. Her song, ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’ is one of the most pleasurable sounds to the ears and her voice is the easiest thing to listen to on any given day.
Genres: Blues/Easy Listening
Resemblances: Norah Jones, Jefferson Airplanes, Beatles, Sheryl Crow
3. Vasundhara Vidalur
She is one of the most bankable female artists in the scene today, with years of experience and maturity that can only come to a seasoned veteran over time. You know her better as Vasundhara Vee and you’ve heard her golden voice at some of the most prominent concerts and gigs in the city. She rose to prominence majorly for her work with Adil & Vasundhara in Delhi, Merkaba in Mumbai and numerous collaborations and performances worldwide. And over time, Vasundhara has been a torch bearer for the uplifting and development of the independent music scene in the country.
Genres: Jazz/Blues/ R&B/ Soul
Resemblances: Adele, Etta James, Nina Simone, Norah Jones, Alanis Morisette4. Sanaya Ardeshir
Better known as Sandunes, Mumbai-native, Sanaya has made a mark in the electronic music scene in the country—something very few women in the country have been able to do successfully. The multi-talented producer, composer and synth player is known for her diverse blend of electronica which combines eclectic sensibilities with progressive electronic elements. Her keyboard and piano skills have added to her prowess as a noteworthy electronic musician on the scene. She recently released her album and has created a niche for herself. You can be rest assured that any gig played by her in the big cities will have a dedicated audience who come just to listen to her play.
Genres: Electronica/Progressive Electronic
Resemblances: Jean Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream5. Sukhmani Malik
The second half of the famous and well-loved duo, Hari & Sukhmani, Sukhmani Malik is the female voice of the band. Lively and energetic, Malik gets the groove of the songs going with her own rhythm. She’s known to create fresh and eclectic sound, fusing traditional Punjabi folk music with ambient electronic, embodying the independent spirit of the duo. Inspired by famous Sufi poets like Bulleh Shah, Baba Farid, Kabir and Shah Hussain, Sukhmani’s voice adds to the magic of the songs they produce and perform together.
Genres: Folktronica / Asian underground / Electronica / Fusion
Resemblances: Punjabi, Hindustani Classical and Sufi6. Saba Azad
Mumbai-based Saba Azad, is one of the most well known younger singers on the block today. Part of the well known duo, Madboy Mink, along with Imad Shah, Saba is the voice behind most of the music the two of them create. Amidst the live guitar, the synthesizer and the soulful vocals behind which Saba has a huge role to play, you’ll find her lighting up any stage. And honestly, Mink (her stage name) is what makes the duo worth listening to.
Genres: Electro Cabaret /Disco /Funk
Resemblances: The Ting Tings, Caravan Palace, Kormac
7. Samara Chopra
Begum X at The Ska Vengers, that’s Chopra when she’s not caught up in some fantastical yoga session of her own. Samara Chopra is a queen of many trades—a certified Yogi with a dedicated YouTube channel and classes if you’re interested and a moonlighting singer called Begum X at The Ska Vengers. You’ll recognize her from her remarkable features, teamed with a magnetic voice that draws you in. She adds the Ska to the Vengers. To put it plain and simple, she’s a performer and she’s the best at what she does. Her vocals and singing style is very 150s African-Jamaican with a twist of some jazz and folk.
Resemblances: Rebelution, Bob Marley, Beenie Man8. Nirali Kartik
It’s very rare to find a handful of musicians who continue to nurture music that is inspired from the roots of where one comes from. Nirali is one such singer. This Mumbai-based Hindustani Classical vocalist is popularly known as the female half of Maati Bani, comprising of her husband, Kartik Shah and her. But, while Maati Bani evokes the more contemporary side to Hindustani music wrapped and styled with hints of pop and rock, Nirali’s solo performances are deeply rooted in Hindustani classical music and it takes you back to an era of Indian music that is all but lost. Add to that her nightingale-like voice and you wonder why she isn’t more prominent in the industry. Reason: Commercialism isn’t all that it’s made out to be and artists like Nirali uphold the value of music as one of the purest forms of art there is today. In fact, she has been an exemplary modern-day figure to contribute to Indian music.
Genres: Hindustani Classical
Resemblances: Haveli folk singers, Classical Indian maestros9. Kanchan Daniel
She’s upbeat, up-tempo and can turn any darned place into a jailhouse rock session. It’s hard to it still without swaying while listening to the vocals of the effervescent Kanchan Daniel. They’re simple, unpretentious and her throaty voice makes it worth playing on a day when you’re alone and dancing to a different tune—in this case, it’s hers. She’s part of the popular band, Kanchan Daniel and The Beards where she’s the lead female vocalist, adding the spunk element to the band.
Genres: Rock and Roll/ Neo Blues/ Soul/ Indie/ Blues-Rock
Resemblances: Duffy, Christina Aguilera, Elvis Presley, The Doors
10. Archy Jay
She used to be a metal head; still is. Only now, she’s also India’s only female bagpipe artist and boy, does she rock it out on stage. Archy, quit her job, her old stint as lead vocalist for a metal band and travelled all the way to Scotland to learn the art of bag piping. And it wasn’t easy. Five years down the line, she’s pioneered a movement across the country by becoming the only one to lead everyone down whichever road she wants; courtesy: her bagpipes. Her claim to fame—the soundtrack of the ‘Game of Thrones’ anthem. You can listen to it on her YouTube channel. Soon, she was covering AC/DC’s Thunderstruck on bagpipes and the nation loved their Snake Charmer—that’s her stage name. She’s won international acclaim and there is no stopping her. Her latest is a cover of Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You and Saathiya and its divine!
Resemblances: Steve n Seagulls, Eluveitie