As the state of Karnataka struggles to find solace in Carnatic and Hindustani classical music while its enclosed urban spaces rumble with Bangalore Rock, a nine-year-old is effortlessly belting out whistle notes like Christiana Anguilera and nailing Alicia Keys, Shontelle numbers.
Megan Rakesh, known by her Insta handle MegAndTheMiracles, recently received a shoutout from Keys for impeccably covering her song Fallin’ during a TikTok live that went viral. When TikToker ‘Danny B’ hosted a competition on the video-sharing app, he wasn’t expecting to be thrown off his chair by a Bengaluru girl, who’d been singing since the age of 3. And he definitely wasn’t expecting his video to reach more than a million views within 24 hours. Megan was accompanied by her father, Rakesh, on the guitars.
“I play for a band called Out Of Office in Bangalore and it’s been 10 years since we came together. But once Megan was born, I took a break from my music to accompany her,” Rakesh told The Express Tribune over a video call. “Megan was a premature baby, weighing less than a kilogram with underdeveloped lungs. So we had to see her fight for 60 days in the hospital after she was born,” he added.
Rakesh spent all his time playing music for her daughter until one day, while strumming to Pearl Jam’s Better Man, she started singing along. “Megan was only 3-years-old and we were amazed by her voice, her control and her passion,” remarked the guitarist.
Aside from receiving acknowledgment from Alicia, Megan has also been graced by the presence of Impossible hit maker Shontelle. “Shontelle, the Grammy-nominated singer, spoke to Megan over an Instagram live after she covered her song. They both jammed and Megan couldn’t stop squealing in excitement,” Anne, the prodigy’s mother recalled.
“Ehsaan Noorani Sir also told me that an 8-year-old singing Led Zeppelin like I do, can have a great influence on people,” giggled Megan, all the way from India. She expressed her disbelief at the amount of respect she had been receiving, with an Instagram handle having over 50,000 followers by now, she also made it to BBC, Brut, Now This, NDTV, among other renowned news outlets.
And the legendary Hariharan even said, “She has a huge voice,” upon witnessing her talent during an interview.
“It was amazing. Hariharan is big. And Shontelle even sang Impossible with me during our live session. She then asked me to sing my original and she sang the chorus along with me!” shared an electrified Megan, who was by now, struggling to sit still. Her father revealed that this original of hers, titled Find My Way, was being produced by a professional Shontelle works closely with.
Megan’s mother relayed how trolls on social media did not even spare her in the beginning. “Initially, when we started going live, there were a lot of racist comments that were directed at Megan. It was like joining a new school and getting ragged. We were disheartened but now we have the bigger picture in front of us and we’ve grown strong,” assured Anne.
“So Megan’s first song is about overcoming those difficulties and finding her way out, she keeps writing these motivational lyrics in her diary and it’s a pleasure to know she’s a great writer too,” Rakesh remarked. “I want to make everyone happy with my music, along with myself. That’s my aim. Just like Whitney Houston,” Megan shared.
“She’s a freestyle artist but she’s really quick at picking up techniques just by watching videos on YouTube,” Rakesh asserted. “Whenever she listens to someone hitting higher notes, she’ll make sure she tries that first! It’s like she wants to challenge herself. So by now, she can move from a whistle register to a modal register and then a falsetto without so much as breaking a sweat!” added Rakesh proudly.
Aside from her father, Alicia, Shontelle and Houston, Megan’s inspirations also include Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson. “Dad listens to amazing music and introduces me to it. I haven’t heard any Pakistani song yet but he has told me about some,” she admitted.
“When I was a kid, my father took me to a Junoon concert; I was amazed by their performance. They had come to Bangalore and it’s always so nostalgic whenever I speak to someone from across the border now,” shared Rakesh. “They sang Sayonee, and that was like a huge hit. We still have people in India covering that song,” acknowledged the artist. “I’ve also heard Strings, they [Faisal Kapadia and Bilal Maqsood] were a power duo and going places back in the day,” he concluded.
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