Anjali is the breath of fresh air that the world of music is waiting for. A woman of gentile strength and passion, her innovative style, powerful sultry vocals and haunting melodies ensure that she will touch the heart of one and all. Her influences span several continents, cultures and musical genres therefore it is only natural for her music to fuse both classical and contemporary urban sounds.
Born in Brooklyn, with roots in Guyana and South Asia, Anjali discovered her musical talent at the tender age of nine. A wild imagination combined with all of that raw talent and was channeled into the grooming of an artiste. Anjali diligently trained in the US and India under the tutelage of prominent instructors and has shared the stage with some of the worlds leading music icons. The release of the critically acclaimed self titled album, “Anjali: Sacred Offerings” secured her position as one of the best young vocalist her community has produced and has sold 30,000 copies in her hometown alone.
The unveiling of Anjali’s sophomore album at STUDIO 4, gives a rare glimpse into the world of art. Step inside the room where she collaborates with world- renowned percussionist/producer Bashiri Johnson, and highly sought after engineer/producer Darren Moore to create her first English album on a whole new level. The purpose of this album has also become the platform on which Anjali gives a voice to her people who have suffer from many different issues including suicide, abuse of every kind as well as a people who have been unseen and unheard of in mainstream media. By carving out her unique style, and bringing attention to human rights, Anjali is pushing cultural and musical boundaries and revolutionizing the sound of music. Here’s her personal journey.
I was born and raised in Brooklyn to parents who hailed from South America, Guyana to be exact. My parents were very young, my mom being only 17 when she had me. My father was ambitious and by the 80s had a flourishing business and had become a real estate mogul all without a GED. My mother being removed from her family to start life in a new land was a bit depressed although she hid it magically behind an ever present smile, and a home full of people, food and art, Life was colorful to say the least on the streets of Brooklyn in the 80s. Musically I was surrounded by latin vibes, bollywood, reggae and the beginning of hip hop.
My parents were worried that I was becoming too “americanized”… and desperately tried to submerge me in culture. That included hours and hours in the temple and other family events. They hit the jackpot when they found my budding musical skills and then proceeded to have me in hours and hours of Indian classical music. By the age of 9, I had been dubbed talented and gifted in the public schools and a musical prodigy performing everywhere for charity instead of being a child. The pressure of all of that, coined with our Brahman family caste made me have an internal desire to just be normal. Being a first generation Indo Caribbean in the streets of NY, left me with a sense of an identity crisis. No one knew of Guyana, theres was no media representation or role models. The culture was dominated by men, men who were to complicate the rest of my life.
At 15 I was pursued by a young priest. Handsome and the Doogie Howser of our times, I was oblivious to the fact that he pursued me for the sake of my fathers money. Young puppy love turned into a mentally, emotionally, verbally and finally for way too long physically abusive relationship that would span over a decade of the best years of my life.
His control over me ruined the relationship I had with my parents, especially my mother. My parents finally caved in not wanting to lose me and we were engaged by the time I was 19 and married by my 21st birthday. During the wedding planning my mother was diagnosed with 4th stage of cancer and died within two months. We were asked to move the wedding up. I got married on July 8th, and my mother died one week after that.
Traumatized, I went into a Siddhartha Buddha like stage in my life. I wanted to know the meaning of everything. Soul searching became imperative and I spent the next decade looking for those answers. I dropped out of Queens College in my junior year to become a full time musician. Still married, my husband at the time was the personal assistant to none other than Steven Seagal. We lived with the A class actor in his LA home before moving to Toronto to film his next three films. The LA way of life, and the sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle of the industry was ultimately too much for me after losing my mom, and I used our Hollywood contacts to move to Bombay to record an album. It was be a cathartic homage to mother and a distraction from the unraveling of a bad marriage. I sincerity towards music also stems from the fact that my great grandfather was a famous musician in Guyana in the 1920s. In the 1940s though, my grandmother was unable to learn or take the stage because it was forbidden to women. She taught me the little she learned from the notes drifting down the stairs and made me ever so proud to be an exponent of such a profound skill that was in my bloodline. She made it seem like a super power that ultimately could be used to heal people.
The album went on to sell 30,000 copies in NY alone and debuted at Nassau Coliseum. My ex husband could not take my success and after constantly trying to kill me, I found the strength to leave him when I found evidence that he was sleeping with over 40 of his “godchildren”. I had to battle with him over the rights of my record which I eventually won along with fighting to keep my name which he claims he gave to me. My heart was broken. Without anyone in my corner, a broken heart and a fear of life itself, I spent the next chapters in my life chasing record deals, looking for love and still the backlash of being too pretty, too talented and too perfect. By the age of 28 I had been signed to three different record labels and still no closer to my “dream” When the markets crashed in ’08 they folded my last independent situation and in my mind brought a close to my music career. Who was gonna sign someone who was 28, talented or not. I married my second husband without any feelings towards him because I was exhausted and life for a single Indian woman left a sense of being unprotected and unworthy. I dealt with his alcoholism, drug abuse and an ever present superiority complex of him being Punjabi. That issue of Indians from India thinking they are in some way more entitled than those from the West Indies is also an issue Ive endured and been witness to my entire life as well.
Never one to be down and out for long, I channeled all of that heart ache into a cross over album. Always the poet and writing songs, I had the rare opportunity to record with the drummer for Sting, Whitney and Micheal. He was a darling man who eventually put all of Whitney’s band on the album to my delight and solidified in my heart that my song writing was unique and my lyrics powerful. Once again though, I failed to release the album. Something was always holding me back. At the close of the project I conceived my first born and after much prayer and reflection decided to take the much needed time off to become a mom. The decision to do so infuriated many men i was working with. I was just so tired of being in the role of musician, belittled and ostracized for not being financially secure, as well as not respected or considered “intelligent”. The movements of #metoo and #timesup were like cliff notes for my actual experiences with men in the industry. I knew I had a deeper purpose, and a voice that could be used for more than singing at midnight to a room full of intoxicated people not to mention the singing for free part most of the time.
When I connect the dots, I realize I was being prepared to do something more meaningful. The years I found solace singing in the temples ultimately formed a bond with the women of my community. Their sincere gratitude for healing their tired weary souls became a purpose. The injustices I found in every corner of life towards women, in my culture and elsewhere started a fire in me to get involved. Our ancestry from Guyana holds the record for having the highest suicide rate in the world currently. The lessons I learnt through music regarding creativity and the need to embrace and express emotion have been the life skills that I now try to make people aware of. Never one to sleep my way to the top and realizing how a young brown girl without an identity was never going to be signed to a worthy record deal was heart breaking to a child who was raised to believe that you can be anything in life if you work hard, dare to dream and go for it. Finally the short life of my mother, her sacrifices and ultimately how she was sacrificed would have an impact on me to eventually tell the story.
This year I turn the age my mother did when she died. I believe with all of my heart that this amount of pain and love needs to be expressed in more than a song, album or interview. I eventually would like to be a public speaker on all of the world issues Ive experienced and an ambassador to those who have not the courage to speak their truths.
Anjali’s carries with her the hopes of generations of people who have not been given a voice in the mainstream culture. Her work can currently be found on YouTube. This includes videos for some of her songs as well as behind the scenes footage of her working on this incredible album.
Company Name: Artiste Anjali
Contact Person: Anjali Paray
Phone: 718 607 2287
Address:125 Hempstead Gardens Drive, West Hempstead
City: West Hempstead
State: NY 11552
Country: United States
Social Media: Facebook