My family claims that as a baby, I sang before I even spoke! My grandmother, Sudha Malhotra
Motwane, was a professional Indian classical musician. As a baby I often accompanied her during her
music sessions until, at age three, she began training me. About a year or so later, at and award
show, my dadi took me up on stage and made me sing with her. I’m don’t really remember what I
sung or even how I sung, but what is imprinted in my memory is the sea of the thousands of faces in
the audience, the joyous clapping and cheering and the happiness and comfort that I felt. It was that
exact moment that I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to sing in front of people, to
make them smile and make sure they have a good time.
I started off with Indian classical music but then later at the age of ten started to learn western pop
and jazz. I began to do many shows including performances at NCPA, royal opera house and NSCI
dome. I was the opening act for artists like Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Shaan, HRVY and The Vamps. I
joined and performed with bands, with individual musicians and with choristers. I did and continue
to do as much as I can to broaden my horizons as a vocalist.
Once my parents realised how serious I was about my Art, they encouraged me to take it a step
further, which took me to Walnut Hill School for the Arts, a boarding school located in Boston where
I was enrolled in a dual program specializing in arts and academics. I majored in Jazz vocals.
Unfortunately I had to come back in only a year due to the pandemic, but my stint away made me
miss Indian music, so I am happy I can continue my Indian training since I am back home.
I used to have major stage fright but the more I performed, the more I began to overcome it. When I
first started performing, I used to follow the trick that many performers use – keeping my eyes
focused towards the back of the room. However, I quickly realised that that line was by far the worst
advice ever! Any person on stage whether it’s acting, singing or dancing is on that stage to tell a
story and convey a message to the people watching them. There is no possible way to do this if you
aren’t looking at your audience members in the eye. It’s difficult to do this in a dark auditorium but I
really do always try my best to.
A significant memory that has truly impacted my journey is of an incident that took place three-
years-ago. I was performing the challenging song (albeit one of my favourites) Wrecking Ball, at the
royal opera house for a charity show. I had been practicing day and night to make sure I hit every
note exactly where I was supposed to. A week before the show my voice had completely gone. I had
103 fever and was unable to move… I just about made it to my dress rehearsal, but not even three
croaking words came out of my throat when I was trying to sing!
On the day of the show my fever had gone down to 102 and I was completely baffled as to how I was
supposed to sing if barely any vowels were coming out of me. I prayed and prayed and had taken a
ton of medicines hoping it would do the trick. I went on to stage (still not even being able to make a
sound) trembling not knowing what I was to do when the band starting playing. I truly believed there
was an angel on stage with me that day. Once the music began and I started singing, the notes just
flew. I was able to sing just fine on stage! In fact, to this day, I feel like that was definitely one of my
strongest performances yet. On that stage, nothing else – not even my stage fright - mattered to me.
As soon as I went back stage again, while my voice was not completely
gone like before, it was back
to croaking… it was so strange.
This experience taught me that no matter what obstacles you need to overcome, all that matters is
to keep your goal clear in your mind. In this case, mine was to try my best to sing no matter what my
condition was at that point. I never believed in miracles until this one.
It’s clear to say, without my music I am nothing. It defines me, and is me. I truly believe that no goal
is ever too big, once you set your mind to it – you can do it.
~Aléa Tara Motwane