The first-ever homegrown English singing show, COLORS Infinity’s The Stage, was a pioneering step towards bringing English singing talent to Indian television, producing its first-ever winner Yatharth Ratnum from Benares.
There are numerous gifted English music artists in India. Unfortunately, they’ve never had the opportunity to showcase their talent. But with The Stage they finally have one. It’s a move in the right direction, especially for a reality show, for English music is an important part of our playlists, but we don’t see it anywhere on our music platforms.
The participants were judged solely by a jury that included singer and music director, Vishal Dadlani, singer and actress, Monica Dogra, music director, Ehsaan Noorani, and MD and CEO, Universal Music Group South Asia and EMI Music South Asia, Devraj Sanyal. Shibani Dandekar, the show’s host, encouraged each contestant along the way.
The pot of gold on the other side, was the launch of the winner’s career with a record deal with Universal Music, a 10-city tour, a mentorship programme, the full muscle of Viacom18 backing the winner’s music career across all its platforms and a brand new Renault Duster to ride in to their new life.
The first edition of The Stage Tour saw the top five contestants performing live for audiences across the country. The musical journey concluded on April 21 at the Hard Rock Cafe in Mumbai after pit-stops at HRCs in Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi, Guwahati, Kolkata and Pune. Winner Yatharth Ratnum, along with popular Indie faces Soundarya Jayachandran, Kenishaa Francis, Anushka Shahane and Rupin Pahwa, enraptured audiences and filled them with the best of popular English tracks.
We met Yartharth Ratnum who has now shifted from his hometown in Benares to live in Mumbai. Excerpts from the interview.
Congrats on winning India’s first-ever English reality show The Stage. Have you had any formal vocal training in the past?
Thank you very much! Yes, I’ve trained with my vocal coach Maxayn Lewis while I was in L.A. and also trained in Indian classical since I was 7 years old in Benares.
How old were you when you started to perform?
I started performing really early. I took part in all kinds of inter-school competitions and other local singing competitions. My parents made sure that I got on stage and performed since the age 9-10.
You went to Hollywood to be honoured with a special award for Outstanding International Vocalist. What does this award means to you?
That award is probably the most special thing I have received. That trip to L.A. changed my life and gave me a new direction as an artist. I met so many kids my age at the award function who were being honoured for their music and acting. I knew of many of them as I had seen them on TV here in India. I understood how important it is to get out of the shell and go international. I fell in love with the city and the new music I was exposed to. So I started writing my own songs on my guitar and it started coming naturally to me.
What did you do in the U.S.?
I spent most of my time basically ‘growing up’. I trained in vocals and acting. I gave auditions. I got to write songs with Grammy-winning songwriters like Allee Willis, Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter, Louise Goffin. I also got to perform in a Grammy Museum: Motown Tribute Concert for Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy. Mostly all of this happened working with my manager Marcy Kraft.
Your musical influences.
Such a tough question to answer… (pauses). My dad was in the audio distribution business, so I had a chance to listen to a huge variety of music… Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, The Righteous Brothers, Adele, Justin Timberlake, Frank Sinatra, Marvin Gaye, Stever Perry, Jeff Buckley. I love and listen to so many artists.