South Asians Music Artists in Mainstream Music



South Asians Music Artists in Mainstream Music

If you really want to go back in time, Pandit Ravi Shankar was one of the first Indians to have a name in Western music as an Indian music artist. He had really been the first one to surface in mainstream music.

I remember when I first noticed Tony Kanal from No Doubt in the 90’s. I had to look twice because he looked Indian! That made me excited because he must of been the first Indian guy I saw in a mainstream rock band. Although he was kind of white-washed, I know there was some sort of Indian inspiration in the band. Remember when Gwen Stephani went through that phase where she’d where bindis and Indian jewelry? Yup, it must of been Tony’s inspiration. They dated each other too, and “Don’t Speak” was about him. Just a random fact I thought I’d throw out there.

What about Dave Baksh? Do you remember this guy? He was one of the guitarists in the rock band Sum 41. I was a big fan of their in high school, they were pretty rad back then. Unfortunately  Dave left Sum 41 in 2006 and started a band with his cousin named “Brown Brigade“, hey, more power to him for starting and all Indian band =)

Moving forward, there have been plenty of South Asian music artists that have surfaced in mainstream Western music.

  • Norah Jones, daughter of the late Ravi Shankar is half Indian
  • The famous female bad-ass M.I.A is Sri Lankan
  • Jay Sean of Cash Money Records a.k.a Kamaljit Jhutty is of Punjabi descent
  • Siva Kaneswaran has a Tamil background and sings in the heart-throb British boy band group, The Wanted.
  • Das Racist is an alternative hip-hop group based out of Brooklyn, New York who are signed to Sony Entertainment Music

There must be more and I will update this list as time goes on. I have to say that these artists are really paving the way for more South Asian music artists to hit the mainstream scene. Although many South Asian parents pressure their children to become doctors, lawyers and engineers – there is still hope for creative South Asians out there!


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