In the field of Indian Music, one rarely comes across a balanced combination of a rich tuned voice, nurtured in the discipline of Classical music, and backed up by an upbringing in a renowned musical family. Swati Natekar is the daughter of Renowned Hindustani Classical Academic and Scholar Dr Sushila Pohankar, who had a Doctorate in Indian Classical & Folk Music. Swati has been groomed by her mother from an early age in the field of Classical, Light Classical, Ghazals, Folk, and Devotional music.
Ghazal singing is one of the most delicate and difficult domains of light music requiring chaste Urdu pronunciation and an understanding of the emotions projected by the lyrics. Swati has demonstrated a natural flair for Ghazal recitals with immaculately controlled delivery of lyrics to the high appreciation of knowledgeable audiences in India and overseas.
Born in Jabalpur in India, Swati began her music career at a very young age through regular performances on All India Radio, Bhopal and later shifted to Bombay to further her academic career (Diploma in Textile Designing) at Sir J. J. School of Arts. The music scene in Bombay quickly caught up with Swati and soon she started performing at private concerts and also on All India Radio, Bombay and Doordarshan TV Channel, Bombay.
Swati shifted to London in 1990. After having gone through an initial settling phase concentrating on private Mehfils / Concerts, Swati was approached by the renowned Tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain for recording a track in Raag Naiki Kanada which was published on the album “The Soul of Tibetan Chant” by Milan Records. Swati performed at Kufa Art Gallery in 1993, for a series "Women through the Ages" organised by SAMA Performing Arts, London. Her performance included a Khayal ( Rag Bhoop ) , Tarana, Thumri, Bhajan & Ghazal.
At a Recording session, the well known Music Producer Biddu noticed her talent and offered her a duet in his next album "Farebi" for HMV. Swati went on to sing 3 tracks in this album which included 2 solo tracks. Pleased with her performance in Farebi, Biddu also recorded her in a duet with Sonu Nigam for the album "Kismat" produced by Magnasound. Later, Navras Records, U.K released an album by eminent Hindi Film Director Muzaffar Ali titled "Paigham-e-Mohabbat" which featured ghazals by famous singers & lyricists from India & Pakistan…Swati recorded a ghazal track in this album which was penned by Ibn-e-Insha. This Ghazal track was later picked up by Warner Brothers to be included in their movie “The InLaws” starring Michael Douglas. This track was also selected by Talvin Singh for his ‘Back To Mine’ Compilation.
Swati then also started working with Western Music producers. She started by recording a remix of "Raghupati Raghav" for James Asher's album "Tigers of the Raj". She also recorded a track with the famous English singer Kiki Dee for her album "Where Rivers Meet". While Swati continued recording Fusion work for artists like Danny Brilliant, Geoff Wilkinson (US3) and Dave Lee, her big break arrived in the form of 2 tracks which she recorded for the UK based musician/composer Nitin Sawhney for his album "Beyond Skin" produced by Outcaste Records. Both the tracks, "Nadia" and "Beyond Skin" (Title track) received extremely positive reviews in the international press and the album was nominated for the most prestigious Mercury 2000 Music Award in the U.K.
Swati's other published work includes a Thumri album "Birha" along with her elder brother Pandit Ajay Pohankar which was released by Sony Nad Music in India in August 2000.
Another milestone for Swati has been the figuring of her track “Jakatta – American Dream” in the U.K main charts on number 3 in February 2001. It was subsequently nominated for World Dancestar Award, 2001 and Swati performed the track live at the Awards function at Alexandra Palace, London which was telecast by Channel 4.
Next year, in 2002 “Miracle”, a track co-written by Swati along with Craig Armstrong (who wrote the Music score for Hollywood movies like ‘Moulin Rouge’ & ‘Romeo & Juliet’), was released on the album “As if to Nothing” by Virgin Records. Swati gave live performances of this track at prestigious venues in London, Paris and Brussels the same year. This track has also been used for “Peace One Day” Documentary, specially made for World Peace Day.
While Swati continued to record creative music with a number of other talented world musicians, she also did set up her own record label ‘Harmony Creations Limited’. Her first solo Ghazal album “Dhanak – The Rainbow” was launched in February 2003 by Times Music in India. The album carries an Introduction by the Ghazal Maestro Ustad Ghulam Ali.
Swati has since recorded a Traditional Ghazal album titled “Anjuman” which is available for worldwide distribution & licensing to interested Record Labels.
Swati has also recorded & produced her World Music album “Destiny Chakra”, which has 12 tracks of soul-stirring intensity. Three tracks from this album have been licensed to the Compilation “Incredible India” released by Universal Records in 2005. One track from this album has been licensed to a Buddha Bar DJ Ravin for his holiday destination compilation Huvafen Fushi Maldives in 2006. In 2007, Swati recorded & released an album “Surmohee”, a compilation of her mother & Guru’s compositions sung by various artists including Swati.
Before, in 2006, Swati also worked with Niraj Chag for his album ‘Along The Dusty Road’. Her co-written track “Khwaab” got lot of airplay & popularity. Swati has also collaborated with the renowned artist Talvin Singh on a track “It’s not over” for his album “Ha”.
In the last quarter of 2006, Swati successfully completed a U.K Tour performing in 5 cities along with Jazz Singer Juliet Robert and Mali Singer Babani Kone on a collaborative “Les Dangereuse” format organised by The Asian Music Circuit. Later, Swati also collaborated with artists like Idan Raichel (Israel) & Keyvon Chemirani (Iranian musician based in France) & performed live in London, France & Portugal.
As far as the live concert scene is concerned, Swati’s collaborations as well as her own shows have given her the opportunity to perform at many prestigious venues & countries like U.K. (Barbican, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Bull Theatre, Alexandra Palace, Womad-Reading, Glastonbury), France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal, South Africa, The Caribbean, India & Pakistan. Also, Swati had the honour of performing live at Guadeloupe Music Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland (1999) & Cité de la musique, Paris (2003).
Swati’s voice has also been effectively used for jingles and TV campaigns, which includes the Sharwoods “Go East” Advertisement on the U.K national TV network as well as lead vocals & co-writing on the theme song for Commonwealth Games in Delhi (2010), specially recorded for BBC.
Swati has her team of musicians for providing live concerts based on themes like Fusion, Ghazal, Bhajan, Geet, Light Classical form like Thumri/Dadra and pure Classical vocal.