Conquering the stage at this year’s The Voice, twelve-year-old Janaki Easwar has proven age is just a number.
It’s not every day we come across talent from Melbourne who walks with such confidence, gracing us with her melodious voice. Meet Janaki Easwar, the youngest contestant ever to perform on Channel 7’s The Voice. She conquered the stage, singing Billie Eilish’s ‘Lovely’ and made it her own, both by making all four judges turn their chairs around during the blind audition and by melting our hearts in our homes.
On Monday night, we saw the emerging artist, Janaki ditching her traditional kasavu (a threaded handloom shawl with a golden border) for a dusty pink stylish skirt and top, looking gorgeous, standing on a raised platform she pulled off a huge song by Zayne – ‘Dusk till Dawn in her own style. The variation in her voice was enough to prove that she’s here to conquer. Though she missed out a spot in the semi-finals during the knockouts in ‘The Voice’, she has definitely turned heads, the warmth and love of the Australian public going crazy in social media is a standing proof to this. “I am happy with this I feel great to represent and be recognised in this platform.” Says Janaki, her goal was always to enjoy the journey not the destination. She didn’t have any particular song choice if she had to choose; according to her she makes everything unique. The judges may have been conflicted with the song choice but then again Janaki made it her own, her band of followers may be disappointed for now, for her not making it through the knockouts but they know they will be seeing much for her in the future. ‘The Voice’ is just a stepping stone, she is already a STAR.
Janaki’s trademark will be just a hint of Indian in her arrangements, making her songs distinctive. Speaking to Janaki’s parents they couldn’t be happier and everything is a bonus, channel 7 giving this platform and the love from the Australian public is enough for their daughter’s career to progress.
The journey in ‘the voice’ may be over for her now but it’s already the beginning of an unfinished journey and there’s so much to come for this star. So here is an open invitation to take a sneak peek into her life, what ticks her? Her parents, her music and the moments during her first blind auditions.
Her parents migrated in 2007 from Calicut, North Kerala, and are now living in Montmorency, Melbourne. Her parents Divya and Anoop are both IT professionals; the proud parents are seen visibly crying their eyes out on national TV. After their humble upbringing with no exposure to the western world – especially Divya, who travelled three hours every day to high school and had no electricity at home until she was thirteen – they can now see the world through their twelve-year-old daughter.
Born and raised in Melbourne as an only child, Janaki’s time is shared between her parents and her little Moodle (puppy) Kami. “Music has always been a part of my life, especially from Dad’s side of the family.” Anoop is a singer and master of ceremonies, actively participating in Indian community events around Sydney and Victoria since migrating to Melbourne. Janaki adds that her uncle, Arun Gopan, is an Indian actor/singer in Malayalam.
She grew up listening to Indian songs around the house. “But the time that I really decided that music is what I wanted to do was in Year 4 when I started learning western music at JAANZ, which is my singing school.” Janaki says that’s it’s really fun.
On asking who’s been her biggest inspiration with her singing career, she doesn’t hesitate speaking highly about her parents, her singing coach David Jaanz, and Tori Kelly the singer from American Idol, just because she proved the judges wrong after being rejected.
Encouraged by her singing coach, David Jaanz, Janaki decided to take a giant leap of faith into the reality show The Voice. When Mr Sethi, editor-in-chief of G’day India and The Indian Weekly, asks her what she was feeling before and after her auditions, she smirks. “My heart was really racing, and I was boiling with nerves. The whole atmosphere was foggy, the lights … all that pressure.”
Janaki mentions she loosened up once she started to sing and it was even relieving when all four judges turned their chairs, surprised at seeing a twelve-year-old with her unusual outfit. Choosing Billie Eilish’s ‘Lovely’ was all about storytelling in the variation that suited her voice. “It’s such a beautiful song. I like listening to it, especially being on the lower side and vibe.” Making it her own song, she pitched it lower – and it was a successful experiment indeed. Billy Eilish, too started her career at a young age.
Mr Sethi asks why she chose Jessica Mauboy as a coach from the judges – this is a no-brainer for Janaki to answer. “Jessie was my first choice; her aura is so warm and welcoming.” Though things got overwhelming with such outstanding pitches from all four judges (Rita Ora, Keith Urban, Jessica Mauboy and Guy Sebastian), who all wanted to sway her to their camps. It was her mum Divya who came to her rescue, signalling to her first choice, Jess.
Also trained in Carnatic (Indian classical music), it was equally a proud moment for all of us when Janaki sang the classical Raga.
On asking where she inherited such a calm and composed aura, she looks at her dad and giggles. “My mother is usually the one who gets nervous, it has to be my dad.”
Life hasn’t changed for the little artist, as her social media is still being managed by her parents. People send her incredible messages through social media, and it is all monitored by her parents. What about the luxury of playdates with friends? Well! Due to lockdown, they are all homebound but Snapchats and phone calls happen a lot at home.
Will stardom pressure her? Will her brush with fame be disadvantageous? To that Anoop, Janaki’s father, explains that his daughter is on a journey – and as she herself explained so beautifully, this is a step towards her music career. The Voice is not a destination, but only the beginning.
Has she thrown any star tantrums lately? Her father laughs. “She’s mature for her age, no tantrum shown.” Janaki giggles, rolling her eyes to her father’s words.
If Janaki is not singing, then she can be seen playing with makeup; her beautifully done eyes beaming through the screen are testament to that. Like a typical twelve-year-old, Janaki thinks working in a makeup store could be fun.
Writing songs comes naturally to her so as a career, definitely it has to be music, releasing EPs and albums. She listens to Tamil and Hindi songs around the house; she loves Neeti Mohan as one of her favourite Indian singers. Singing gospel and Zooming with David Jaanz has developed Janaki’s voice naturally, experimenting with range and flexibility. She’s been blessed with a voice that is rare.
Janaki’s message to young girls is all about determination – have a dream but have fun and don’t get so caught up with it. “Work hard and run with it.” Janaki says.
She is already a star; no song is big enough for this protégé. The future is bright and beautiful with the wisdom of such lovely parents guiding this young genius who loves her makeup, her abstract art, Snapchatting and dancing – making us Australian Indians and the wider Australian community proud. I couldn’t help quoting Tori Spelling: “Everyone in life has a purpose, and nobody’s purpose is better than anyone else’s.”
By Nandita Chakraborty