Like a piping cup of cappuccino on a lazy Sunday afternoon, the soulful sounds of Nita Chawla stealthily whisk you away into a toe-curling lucid dream where time stands still and your most vivid childhood memories filmstrip through your head. Just like that…you’re hooked.
A rare blend of adult contemporary, alternative, and pop, Nita’s early influences were singer-songwriters Tori Amos, Sheryl Crow, and Alanis Morisette. During her teens, she began to acquire a taste for rock acts like Garbage, U2, Coldplay, and pop sensations Madonna and Beyoncé. Nita’s latest style is comparable to Adele and Colbie Caillat; her voice as smooth as dark chocolate with surprise hazelnuts found in her sharp staccatos and percussive outbursts. The only difference? She’s 100 % Indian.
Since the age of 5, she began singing with her makeshift family Vontrap (heed the Sound of Music reference). “We used to set up our instruments and mics on the floor and videotape ourselves to show my family back in India. My dad played the tabla and harmonium. My mom was our Bollywood heroine, and my sister and I sang traditional Hindi songs (‘Hum Ko Man Ki Shakti Dena’), Mariah Carey’s ‘Someday,’ and a cover of Tiffany’s version of ‘I Think We’re Alone Now” (written by Ritchie Cordell).
Riding the fence between two different cultures was tough. “On the one hand I loved my colorful heritage, and on the other, my American friends were gaining independence from their families early on, which left me confused about what was expected of me. I just wanted to fit in. My songwriting and compositions became my outlets to vent. Now I’m glad I stand out.”
Moving on a whim to New York, she immersed herself into the music scene and was invited to play at local bars and venues on the Lower East Side. As most singer-songwriters can empathize, Nita felt completely disheartened at one point. “I organized a show and only a fraction of people showed up when so many people promised they’d come. I felt naked on stage, as if everything I was doing was a farce. What’s the point of sharing a gift if no one’s there to receive it? That’s the harsh reality so many aspiring artists face in this industry. You just have to want it bad enough.”
Nita’s 5-song EP was launched on iTunes in February 2010 and a year later, she participated in “The 9 Singer-Songwriter Series,” a travelling showcase based out of D.C. featuring nine artists from various musical backgrounds. Much like her songs, “Make You Say Please” and “Forgive Me,” (which was included on the first season of NBC’s The Voice starring celebrity judges Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Cee Lo, and Blake Shelton), Nita’s just as quirky as she is courteous. “I’m out there. I go off on tangents and my mind wanders. I may not be what you consider classically pretty, but I now appreciate my exotic looks and I’ve got a whole lot of soul.”