Confident women make their own choices. Jonita Gandhi is one of them. Jonita left her family back in Canada to pursue a career in music. In a short span of time she was nominated for Best Female Playback Singer at the Mirchi Music Awards and the Filmfare Awards for her breakup song from the movie Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. More recently, she won Female Vocalist of the Year at the Mirchi Music Awards for the song Gilehriyaan from the movie Dangal.
VERUS FERREIRA met up with the 27-year-old when she was in Mumbai with The Jonita Gandhi Band to learn about her rise to fame and what lies in store for this young singer.
How has your journey as a singer been so far, from recording YouTube videos to performing live with artists like Sonu Nigam and A.R. Rahman and hitting it big with Bollywood?
It’s a tremendously rewarding experience to be on a multifaceted journey as a singer. When I started uploading covers to YouTube, I never thought they would have gained me the kind of recognition they did, from both fans and Bollywood personalities.
How did you get into music?
You could say I’ve been surrounded by music since I was born. My dad and brother are both musicians by hobby. I started singing publicly when I was 7 when my dad encouraged me to perform with his band at one of their gigs.
Academically what have you done so far?
Before coming to India, I finished my studies and graduated with two undergraduate degrees, Honours Business Administration (Richard Ivey School of Business) and Bachelor of Health Science from University of Western Ontario.
You were based in Canada; why the shift to Mumbai?
I moved to Mumbai to give my career as a professional Bollywood singer a solid shot and I knew I had to be here to make it happen. Although I would love to be at home with my family, I will be wherever the future takes me.
Did your parents object to you taking up music?
My parents are very supportive of my career as a singer and always have been. There were no objections. They want for me what I want for myself. Before embarking on this journey professionally, I made sure I completed my studies and had a solid academic backing to support myself in the event that music wasn’t the path for me. My parents have been my pillars throughout my life with their unwavering support, encouragement, guidance and love.
Before success came your way, you were a YouTube artist. Are you still making cover songs on YouTube?
The term “YouTube artist” didn’t exist when I began uploading covers to YouTube, but it was thanks to my presence on YouTube that I developed a fan following across all of my social media networks. I haven’t been making YouTube covers as frequently as I wanted to over the past few years but I’m currently working on a few and hope to be releasing more regularly on my channel jonitamusic.
What do you think makes a YouTube song cover popular?
There are so many different things that make covers popular on YouTube these days, including popularity of the artist, frequency of uploads by the artist, popularity of the song, creativity of the cover audio/video, and so much more.
Do you think social media is the platform for new singers?
There are several platforms for new singers to be seen and make their mark. Surely social media is one of them and plays a role in visibility and connectivity for artists to interact with audiences around the world. It really depends on an artist’s personal objective whether social media is the best primary platform for them to focus on.
Verus Ferreira is a freelance music journalist for over three decades, contributing articles to various newspapers and magazines. He is the author of The Great Music Quiz Book and The Great Rock Music Quiz Book. Besides being a music aficionado, he is also a photo-journalist. He contributes to Musicunplugged.in. Reach him at E: firstname.lastname@example.org or verusferreira.com