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