She’s just completed her move to Mumbai from New Delhi, and 21-year-old singer Sharvi Yadav is understandably emotional. She misses a lot of people back home, but she’s also just seen some YouTube comments on a video of her performance from English-language singing competition The Stage 2 that weren’t exactly positive.
But it’s over now, and despite anyone’s comments, Sharvi has been crowned the winner of The Stage 2, which was telecast on Colors Infinity and judged by the likes of Vishal Dadlani, Monica Dogra, Ehsaan Noorani and Universal Music India head Devraj Sanyal. She chose to sing Beyoncé’s 2006 song “Listen”, which features the line, “The time has come for my dreams to be heard.” Sharvi says, “I hadn’t practiced the song in a long time, like four years.”
Sharvi was picked as the winner over some formidable voices in the top four – including favourites like Abhishek Gurung Lemo, N Arunaja and Natasha Sehgal. “When they announced my name, I was jumping around so much, I was so happy,” says Sharvi, who has now, like a few other contestants in the top 10 of the show, moved to Mumbai to work in commercial music as well as pursue their own solo singing careers.
For someone’s who honed her skills as a singer since school and become part of her Western Music society whilst studying commerce at Sri Venkateswara College in the capital, Sharvi began to learn the importance of being a musician when she started playing gigs as part of jazz/rock band Sylvia in late 2014. She says, “Music was no longer treated as some extra-curricular subject. It was way different, because you had to engage people and push them in a way that would make them listen to you.”
Part of the college life also involved a lot of partying, which Sharvi doesn’t necessarily regret, but it did have a dangerous aftermath – the singer developed nodules in her throat, losing her singing voice for an entire year between 2013 and 2014. She says, “Thankfully, I didn’t have to go through any surgery, because I was just home for a year and I was on medication. I stopped eating particular foods and changed my sleep cycles. I became a saint. I had to change everything for music – I had to change my freaking personality.”
After a year recovering, she began uploading quick covers of songs ranging from “All About That Bass” and “Lovefool” that nearly went viral. One of many comments and messages she received came from Ehsaan, who told her, “I hope you’re auditioning for The Stage 2”. Sharvi adds, “For two hours, I was just jumping around the house. I’d never been in touch with anyone in the music industry before.” She also received a heads up from fellow Delhi songstress Kamakshi Khanna, who competed on the first season of The Stage.
And now, Sharvi is getting a hang of making “contacts or connections or whatever you call them”. A few jingle offers are in the works, she has Ehsaan and Vishal Dadlani for mentors – as do a few other finalists from The Stage 2 – and is going to get started on her solo EP while simultaneously make her mark in the commercial music sphere. Is it a big bad world? Sharvi says all the judges treated her like “one of them”. She adds, “In the beginning, I used to feel that once people got to a certain level, they had this air about them and they knew everything about music and they didn’t want to further learn more. In my opinion, music is endless, you can always learn.”
Although the first season of The Stage didn’t exactly propel its winner – Varanasi singer Yatharth Ratnum, who had previously been on televised singing competition Li’l Champs in 2009 – to any massive success, the second season seems to have made the right moves in promoting its finalists. No surprise then, that Sharvi is already on her way to a victory lap gig in New Delhi on 11 December and working to complete her EP. She says, “I’m planning to build a brand, myself that is. And that might just help with my music. In a span of a year or two, everything’s just happening, it’s picking up for me and I don’t want to let it pass.”