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"My childhood was
very fun
very loud
definitely musical."

 

Gloria-Ragesh-Baby

 
 

Music filled the Ragesh household. 

Living in Singapore, Gloria's parents ran a church from their home. They would sing in Tamil, her native language, and play the tambourine; music wasn't just sound, but community too.


"That was my childhood, and it was actually pretty fun. Everyone's in a group, in a circle, and you feel really connected."



Her mother was the one with the voice. But her father had the rhythm, playing tabla or sometimes the mridangam.

Their young Gloria was extroverted and eccentric, striking up a conversation with whoever she could.

 

Gloria-Childhood-Collage

 
 
"I think I started being interested in music when I was five.
I begged my mUm to go to piano lessons because I saw my friend do it."

 

 

But after six months, as any five-year-old would think, the lessons got tiring. Still, Gloria persisted, eventually growing to love it.

It was the first time she ever made music. Gloria-Ragesh-Baby2

She would smile at stickers that shined with Good Job! which the teacher would stick to her lesson books—her favourite part of the piano classes.


And when she started thinking about what her future held for her, that grown-up life that feels so far away, the stories forming in her head came to include the magic of music with it.


"I never saw myself as a celebrity, I just wanted people to know my music and people to hear me sing. I wanted to look at the facial features of someone when they heard my voice or when they saw me play."

 

Gloria started dreaming.

Gloria-Ragesh-High-School

"I was really iffy about doing music
as a career when I was in high school."

 

Prevailing with the piano lessons because she knew it would help her become a songwriter, Gloria began writing parody songs as a joke, to test her rhyming skills.

"It is so embarrassing but one of my parody songs was about pizza, It was in the replica of 'Grenade' by Bruno Mars. It was really cheesy, and went, 'Pizza, pizza, ketchup and mustard...'"



But beyond the pizza rhymes, her lyrics began to take a personal quality. Emotion carried the melody. She started writing about things that happened in her life—romances, family—and she even read poetry for inspiration. But loving music is one thing. To make the jump and pursue it as a career is another.

Collarts was in the back of her mind, but she was going to study teaching, Gloria decided. Until a fateful concert that was opened by avant-pop trailblazer Charli XCX.
 

Gloria-Ragesh-Collarts-Collage
 
"I didn't know if I was good enough to get in and I just pushed all that doubt aside when I saw her play. I decided then that this is what I want to be doing in the future. This is what I want to work towards and strive towards."

Collarts welcomed her with open arms to the Music Performance course, and despite the long commute between her home in Geelong and Collingwood, it was paying off.

Even though she started shy, observing others who also carried the same dream as her, Gloria discovered who she really was and found unexplored confidence.


She was perfecting her craft: one-on-one lessons, inspiring Collarts mentors, ensemble collaborations, her voice ringing through the Auditorium. But she was taught the unexpected too, about how the music industry is more than just the people on-stage.

"When I was younger, I had this almost ignorant, obscured reality of what people in the music industry are. Collarts definitely taught me to respect these amazing people and everyone in the industry. Like people who do lighting, sound, all of it and how it all comes together... To really respect the process.
That is the biggest thing that Collarts taught me."



And the "amazing people" that Gloria met during her education were about to become a lot more important than she ever thought.

 

"My whole band went to Collarts."

 

Gloria-Ragesh-Jothi-Collage

 

It was after a performance of Salt-N-Pepa's 'Whatta Man' that Denny, a guitarist from Gloria's cohort, came up to her. "I want to start working with you," he said. The two began songwriting, with Denny eventually bringing in his best friend and bassist Zach, who had gone to Collarts a few years back.

Then, Leif, another classmate, jumped onto the drumkit: "I want a piece of that action." 

But they still needed someone to fill out the backing vocals and percussion. Shelby, who Gloria had been friends with in the past but had reconnected with at Collarts while the former studied a Diploma, was perfect for the role.

Gloria Ragesh Jothi Tommy Little
"Jothi didn't really even exist until Denny. I saw these people come together and I thought, 'Wow, I really want to create music with them and I want this to be a collective.' I wanted us to be able to bounce off each other and bring in new ideas. There's strength in writing together."


Jothi grew beyond the Collarts walls, riding the local gig circuit and releasing their first single 'Goliath', an alt-funk groove about overcoming obstacles and anxieties. "Dreamy," Triple J Unearthed director Dave Ruby Howe called it, with a special shout out to Gloria's voice—"How 'bout that vocal!" 

And their hard work bought them a slot opening the pre-show entertainment for nationally-renowned comedian Tommy Little. Lights brighter and a stage bigger than the Auditorium.


"When I perform on stage, I don't know what I become. I am this confident, hysterical, powerful woman. I feel like I am reserved sometimes in my real life, then I get on stage and I am just this completely different person. This power that comes with Jothi, I can just summon it and feel it in me when I gig—and I want the audience to be able to feel that as well."

 

But she hasn't let go of dreaming; it's just that the dream's evolved. It's made of expansive tours and developing Jothi's presence in the music industry. As for young Gloria's dream of seeing the crowd connect to her music emotionally, she's living it out now, using the skills she's crafted at Collarts and the networks too.

"Without doing this degree, I wouldn't have been able to achieve so much. Collarts really helped me set myself up to succeed in the industry that I wanted to succeed in."

 

Gloria Ragesh Jothi Tommy Little-2
 
WRITTEN BY JENNIFER PARK
IMAGES PROVIDED BY GLORIA RAGESH
TAPE VECTOR CREATED BY VECTOR POCKET
Turn your dream into a career. Discover Music Performance