With a voice as smooth and rich as warm honey, Priya Ragu makes music that celebrates diversity, heritage and joy. Born to refugees of the Sri Lankan civil war, Ragu was raised in Switzerland, a country not exactly known for its musical exports. Despite growing up in a home perpetually filled with the bright sounds of Tamil film soundtracks and lavish Carnatic music, and later finding inspiration in R&B artists such as Lauryn Hill and Alicia Keys, the Tamil-Swiss singer struggled to negotiate her passion for music and songwriting with her parents’ expectation that she take a safe, stable job. And so, putting the notion of doing music professionally on the backburner, she eventually took a job working for an airline as an aircraft parts buyer.
But destiny kept on calling. In 2017, Ragu rolled the dice: she quit her job and moved to New York City, where she committed herself fully to her craft; writing and recording in a friend’s studio. Since signing to Warner Records in late 2020 and releasing her debut single, “Good Love 2.0”, the artist has been on a meteoric rise, nabbing remixes from the likes of Honey Dijon and Little Dragon.
A kaleidoscopic blend of South Indian and Sri Lankan instrumentation, slick Western electronica and pop, and intoxicating R&B and soul, Ragu’s songs aren’t just multicultural – they’re a family affair, featuring dynamic production from her talented rapper-musician brother, Japhna Gold. Together, they’re breaking down cultural borders and musical genres.
Text Erica Russell