By Khalida Sarwari
As has been tradition for decades, students at Saint Mary’s College of California this semester will sit around a long table and discuss ideas espoused by the greats, from Homer to Cervantes. Some of them may not be aware that sitting in their midst is a classmate who is well on her way to becoming a great in her own right. When school wraps up for the summer, Saratogan Esha Krishnamoorthy, 19, will put down the books and head to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall.
A rock star in the making, Krishnamoorthy spent all of last summer laying the groundwork for the launch of both her academic and music career this year. Before starting her freshman year at Saint Mary’s, she put in hours at Tool Shed Studios in Morgan Hill working with Brian Gibbs on an album that, when released in June, will have 11 original songs along with a cover of “We Could Be Kings” by rock band, Gene.
“I kind of ‘Eshafied’ it, I guess; It’s more of an alternative version of the song,” Krishnamoorthy said. “It’ll be interesting to hear what people say about it because it’s not a popular song.”
Krishnamoorthy writes her own lyrics and chords and plays acoustic and electric guitar. She categorizes her sound as alternative, with songs that draw from different genres including alternative and classic rock. She has heard comparisons of her music to Adele and Fleetwood Mac, both of whom she considers major influences.
The inspiration for many of her original songs is her own life, she said. “I’ve had a lot of times where I get inspired by people that I meet or situations that I’ve been in, good or bad.”
Her debut single, “Just Don’t Let Me Go,” as well as a B-side track titled “Left Behind (Out of Sight, Out of Mind)” were released last month and available on more than 150 streaming sites worldwide. The single has garnered around 500 plays thus far, she said. But, the real thrill has been searching her name and seeing her single pop up on the platforms, an experience that Krishnamoorthy could only describe as “surreal.”
“You don’t really get used to something like that,” she said. “It kind of felt official.”
Recently, she placed third out of 400 applicants in the American Protégé International WeSingPop! Competition, which garnered her an invite to perform at Carnegie Hall on June 6. It was her second time entering the contest; the first was in 2016 at the encouragement of her longtime vocal coach, Majhon Phillips, who runs Music As Language in Morgan Hill (she received an honorable mention that year). Krishnamoorthy credits Phillips and her dad for encouraging her to go into recording.
“Esha has been determined to succeed in music against all odds,” Phillips said. “She has the talent, skills, passion and drive to make it all the way and this single is a great first step.”
Last year was a big year in many ways for Krishnamoorthy. She graduated from the Middle College program at West Valley College (she attended Saratoga High School her freshman and sophomore years). Then, a month after graduation, she threw herself into her budding music career.
“I really took time from then to now to just really pour everything I have to form the foundation of a music career,” she said. “Around September and August of last year, I decided, OK I think I’m ready to play my own shows.”
Since then, she’s been busy performing sets at farmers markets, cafes, wine bars and malls, managing a website and reading up about the business aspect of the music industry. It’s a topic she’s planning to study further at Saint Mary’s, where she is majoring in communication and music.
Ultimately, she aspires to become a world-renowned recording artist with a Grammy win or nomination under her belt, although that may be to the detriment of her health: “I would pass out if that ever happened.”
The accolades aside, she said she is hoping for a career where she’ll have opportunities to bond with people through her music.
“Just to be able to touch people with music and connect with people and share experiences with them; I think that’s what it’s all about,” she said.
Local residents will have a chance to see Krishnamoorthy perform at the Saratoga Farmers Market on Feb. 24. She also performs in the dining area of Westfield Valley Fair mall every other Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. Her next show there is on Friday, Feb. 16.
Krishnamoorthy’s music is available through iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, Amazon, among other platforms. To keep up with her performances and future releases, visit eshakmusic.com or follow her on social media at eshakmusic.