Neha's music has that nostalgic quality to it, one that will have you feeling like you're sitting in a Parisian street café sipping a glass of champagne. Her arrangements are thoughtful and complex, and her sumptuous powerhouse of a voice will leave you awed at the 5'2 framed young Indian woman.
The Dreamer, produced by Neha and mastered by award-winning engineer Mark Donahue, is the singer-songwriter’s debut album, arriving as a delicate and fresh surprise, chock-full of lasting impressions. Neha (pronounced NEY-ha) penned eleven of the twelve tunes on her album, demonstrating her prowess as an artful songwriter. She is also a recent finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest for one of her tracks featured on the album, 'The Willow Tree.'
A gifted singer, composer & pianist, Neha’s style can be characterized as a smorgasbord of musical personalities. She cites influences such as Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Otis Redding, Donny Hathaway, Sam Cooke, Dinah Washington, and Carmen MacRae, to name a few. While definitely rooted in jazz, elements of folk, blues, pop and her mother's classical indian musical background also permeate.
A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in Economics, Neha spent four years post-college working for the tech giant, Google, Inc in the Bay Area. She penned some of her first tracks from her cubicle, and spent much of her free time hitting the jam sessions and songwriting open mics in San Francisco before quitting to pursue her Masters degree at the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music.
Since graduating from NEC in May of 2012, Neha been actively engaged in the Boston performance scene, performing at prestigious venues like Scullers Jazz Club, Lizard Lounge, and Club Passim. In New York, her performance credits include headlining at the famous off-Broadway show "Sleep No More," and being regulars at venues such as The Rockwood Music Hall, Jazz at the Kitano Room, and Caffe Vivaldi. Most recently, Neha came off a mini tour performing the world premiere of "Project Gilgamesh" in Cleveland, Ohio written by multi-talented contemporary violinist and composer Daniel Bernard Roumain.
An account of all things reverie, The Dreamer openly explores Neha’s deepest personal thoughts and wants. Songs like “The Dreamer,” and “Way Back Then” explore her desire to go against cultural and social expectations of her, while songs "The Darkness" and "Whole" give us an intimate understanding of who Neha is as a person. Other songs like "The Willow Tree," and "The French Man" play on her innocence and penchant for day dreaming, delivered through charming lyrics and wispy vocal lines.
Backed-up by her exceptionally talented six bandmates whom she met at NEC (Connor Baker - drums, Evan Allen - piano, Dorsey Bass - bass, Bobby Spellman - Trumpet, Katie Seiler - vocals, Rachel Panitch - violin and vocals), The Dreamer is a tenderly crafted record, a definitive smorgasbord of Neha’s life experiences. Rooted in her love affair with jazz, folk, blues, and her mother’s long standing classical Indian musical training, the record results in a gorgeously personal and open account of Neha's life and deepest vulnerabilities, painted in piercing melodies and whimsically crafted arrangements.
"Music is as necessary to me as food or air" says the first generation Indian-American singer-songwriter. "Leaving the life I led in San Francisco [at Google] and starting all over was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but definitely the most gratifying as well. I spent so much of my life dancing around [creativity], wishing I could be part of that community of creating music and art, but never had the courage to follow through. Finally I just realized I owed it to myself to really go for it, head first. Everyone should have the chance to pursue what they've always envisioned for themselves."
Neha currently resides in Brooklyn, NY where she teaches on the faculty at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in Park Slope and at the Jalopy Theater and Music School in Red Hook. You can purchase Neha's debut album or stream it at www.nehamusic.bandcamp.com, Amazon, iTunes and Spotify.
Photographer: Kristin Kirkley
Festival: Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, 2012