By Reena Patnaik Rao
Swayam Padhi, acclaimed Ollywood playback singer and performer, successfully concluded a USA tour in April 2023, as an event along with the celebration of Utkal Divas and Pana Sankranti. The tour was organised and sponsored by Fifth Avenue Media Services (FAMS) in association with organisations in different cities – the Bay Area (Cupertino Bhubaneswar Sister City – CBSCI), Seattle (Odias of Seattle and Odisha Seattle Youth) and Houston (Odisha Culture Center).
With sold out shows Swayam mesmerized the audience with his beautiful and unique voice, performing not only Odia songs but also Hindi and kept the audience on their feet. Not only music, Swayam also portrayed the rich Odisha handloom and as his outfits were designed from the traditional handloom w eaves and he showcased them during his performances.
There are tons of talented singers working across varied genres, but the young techie Swayam has carved his own niche. He is known for his versatile singing style even though he is popular in the romantic genre. He has a voice that captivates audiences of all brackets. He crooned nostalgic and powerful rendition of some of his own songs plus all time hits of Akshaya Mohanty, Odia folk songs and popular Hindi songs. As an Odia journalist put it, “An extremely talented singer, who will be remembered as one among the all time greats, just like the magical Akshaya Mohanty.”
Swayam’s performance received great feedback from the audience and community leaders in USA. Community leader in Seattle and founder of Wasitrac Debadatta Dash, said,”Words will fall short of the evening that we have experienced in Seattle on the occasion of Utkal Divas. I always followed Swayam as a singer, but was blown away by his performance. He is truly a maestro when it comes to connecting, engaging and entertaining his audience. His singing is always top notch but the way he made the audience alive was breathtaking. He knew how to manage the psyche of the audience when to supercharge them.’’
“Swayam’s is the dawn of a new era, and we are immensely proud that we have such a talented singer who is holding the baton of Odia music. This benchmark for Utkala Divasa can only be matched by Swayam himself. Kudos to the organizers and OSY team for giving us such precious moments. For Swayam, the sky’s the only limit, the day is not far when we must stand in a queue to get the tickets for his concerts. All the best Swayam, thanks for making all of us proud,’’ Dash observed.
Alisa Das, co-chief of OSY and organiser of the Seattle show said, “We were too excited to host Swayam in Seattle for his first show in the US during his April tour. He had a captivating stage presence engaging everyone in the audience. He energized the whole crowd for our Utkal Divasa celebration. People of all ages enjoyed the show as Swayam sang evergreen Odia songs to his newly recorded Odia tunes and popular Bollywood beats. He connected so well with the audience, we are eager to have him perform again! From Odisha Seattle Youth, thank you Swayam for creating such a memorable experience!”
Manas Pattnaik, initiator of the Houston programme said, “Swayam is young and mature with new ideas. That is a great combination as an artist.”
A Houston attendee said, “He did awesome; everyone enjoyed it a lot. The folks were impressed that he alone carried the crowd for the entire time with so much energy. Best wishes to Swayam for his next programme and future.”
Tayi Jagannath, an attendee, said “Swayam mesmerized the audience wherever he sang in the USA. May he become a super star one day…”
Mahesh Pakala and Reena Patnaik, founding board members of CBSCI said, “We like to promote Odia new talents by providing an international platform for their performances. CBSCI organises exchange programmes to provide that platform. Being natives from Odisha we were impressed with Swayam’s voice and performance at the CBSCI’s Heritage India Faire in 2022 where we had invited him for the first time. We thought he definitely deserved to showcase his talent across the USA. He also got an opportunity to perform at the The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) gala in US and India. We feel his voice should reach beyond the Odia community. Thank you Swayam for the memorable performances.”
Swayam in his reaction said, “I am very humbled and honored to hear all this. It has been a great experience performing in several cities in USA. I am grateful and would like to thank my USA tour organizer FAMS, sponsors, my family, my wife, my friends as well as everyone who has been part of my USA tour and shows. Thanks to Mahesh and Reena for wholeheartedly supporting my musical journey in US. I hope to continue my commitment to take Odia and Indian Music to the global level.”
The USA cities hope to see Swayam return soon to entertain the Odia and Indian diaspora. Swayam’s talent and commitment to music have earned him many fans, and he is poised for a successful career beyond the Odia music and entertainment industry. He had received extensive training in Hindustani Classical from Guru Krushna Maharana and Western music from Guru Sharmi Chakrovorty since the age of six.
(The author is a Bay Area, California based writer & content producer, who is also associated with CBSCI )