Hotness, thy Name is Thara

What do you get when you combine a half-Black, half-Irish Mom with a Guyanese-Indian Dad? A lovely Pinay woman named Thara, with an even lovelier voice, that’s what. ;)

Blogger Cherez (thanks!) helpfully left a tip on our News Tab which inspired much googling and listening after my very late dinner. I had no expectations as I surfed and contemplated a possible post, but then I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard; this girl can sing. In fact, she can sing well enough that I’ve finally listened* to a Jay Sean joint! The duo collaborated on the single “Murder”.

The second time I hit play on the video above, for Thara’s “Jump on”, I focused on her voice vs. the video. I did that for two reasons:

1) The video doesn’t do the song justice

2) She really does look like one of those Sigma Omicron Pi princesses who inspired all the boys (Filipino or not) to go to MGA Kapatid meetings at Davis.

Hence my “pinay” joke. :) I know. She’s a quarter white, a quarter black and half-brown, but to me, she looks Asian. In fact, the first time I watched “Jump on”, I nearly jumped, because I swear I used to race this girl (and her white, ’92 GSR) to the last covered parking space across from Freeborn Hall at Davis, every other day. Couldn’t be Thara, though…she was six back in 1993. ;)

If Thara, whose full name is Thara Natalie Prashad, looks familiar, here’s why:

…the savvy singer has done commercials for Verizon, Reebok, Finishline and American Eagle. Additionally, she took on minor roles in Guiding Light and One Life to Live – two daytime soaps – and has appeared in a recent Spike Lee special, Miracle“s Boys.
Musically, the sassy yet classy songster has recorded “You Want It” and “Shake It,” and has collaborated with John Legend, Fabolous, Joe Budden and Fat Man Scoop.
Thara can also be seen in music videos, from Jay-Z“s “Excuse Me Miss,” and Fabolous“s “Make You Mine,” to Sean Paul“s “Ever Blazin,” in which she plays the leading video vixen. [link]

Considering some of the discussions we’ve had on SM over the years, I think some of us might be sympathetic to what Thara went through, while coming out to her parents (as someone who was not going to go to med or law school):

Well, I started at Fordham as a pre-med, bio major with a minor in theater. But I wasn’t happy. So I kind of started doing stuff, and seeing where it was going to take me, and then I got my first production deal with Orange Factory. We started producing my demo, and doing all that stuff, and it just got to be too much. I was kind of doing school, and kind of pursuing music until I said, ‘I need to be giving 100%.’ So I did.’…
(Laughs) My parents freaked out. I wrote them a four-paged letter. I wrote it because I’m an extremely emotional person. I knew that if I tried to talk to them, I wouldn’t be able to express myself clearly. I literally stood in front of them, just reading this letter, tears falling down my face. But it was out there, you know? [Cherez]

Finally, her family “got” it, as she revealed in this excerpt from an interview she did with MoraFire.com:

You recently performed at the Bollywood Awards? How was that?
Thara:“Yes. Oh my god, that was such a big deal, not so much for everyone else, but for my family! Cause it was the first time that they could get what I was doing. My grandma was able to come and my aunts and uncles and all my cousins. For them the Bollywood Awards were such a big deal because it was with all the stars they watch in their movies … and for me to perform on the stage with all of them was really big!”

I must admit (bashfully) that the moment I read that, I wondered what Thara had worn to the event, because I had a flashback of Truth Hurts moaning her way through that awful “addictive” song on-stage, at some similar desi show, while sporting a pair of kundi-cutters which were painful to behold. Whatever. It’s wonderful that Thara’s loved ones support her, despite the fact that she doesn’t “come from a family that’s ever done this.”

Thara was on DJ Clue’s label, Desert Storm, an honor she shared with Fabolous (holla back young’n, hoooo hoooo!), but according to her MySpace page, she’s no longer with them. I agree with a comment I saw on YouTube, under her “Jump on” video; she sounds just as good as, if not much better than what I’m subjected to when I masochistically turn on my radio (I hate DC stations). If Thara’s music doesn’t catch on, perhaps she should do an MTV reality show; it’s not like Heidi Spencer would have been able to writhe around on the beach in a bikini if she hadn’t been on The Hills. Oh, what passes for talent these days…

::

*I know a lot of people who think that writing for SM must make us super-brown, but at least in my case, I find that I’m ignorant of a lot of what constitutes “desi culture”. Jay Sean for example– I had never heard a single song of his until tonight. It’s an odd feeling, to be in the middle of the baddest, brownest blog of ‘em all and to not have exposure to what I “theoretically” should know all about…:)

50 thoughts on “Hotness, thy Name is Thara

  1. speaking of a similar mixed-race brown individual, i stumbled upon tansey coetzee, the 1/2 cape coloured & 1/2 indian miss south africa 2007 while looking for examples of extant phenotypic variation….

  2. Tansey looks browner to me than Thara does, Tansey sets off my browndar, whereas without this tip from Cherez, Thara wouldn’t, but in the end, it matters not. I’ll claim ‘em both. ;)

  3. After seeing this incredibly talented and gorgeous single human version of the U.N., I feel like sticking my head in an oven.

    Seriously, she looks like a pretty good artist and I would like to hear more from her. The song clip posted here is a bit reminiscent of 90′s dance music.

  4. I know I am most likely the dumbest person to ever comment on Sepia Mutiny and hence this next question.

    Is a Guyanese-Indian the same thing as say a Indian-American? Like there ethnicities are Indian but there nationalities are different or are Guyanese-Indians racially different?

    She looks like that Indian actress Bipashu, I think her name is.

  5. this is how us ‘bumbays’ rock it cording to the penoy. Must confess, dont know what hes talking about but you know with the beard and all that, it cant be good!

  6. The second time I hit play on the video above, for Thara’s “Jump on”, I focused on her voice vs. the video. I did that for two reasons:

    The first time I hit play on the video above, for Thara’s “Jump on”, I focused on the video vs, the voice. I refuse to elaborate on my reasons.

  7. She looks like one of my friends. That’s a nice song, I’ll show it to my clubby buddies

  8. Is a Guyanese-Indian the same thing as say a Indian-American? Like there ethnicities are Indian but there nationalities are different or are Guyanese-Indians racially different?/i>

    i think most old (i.e., ancestors were abroad before partition) overseas indian communities drew disproportionately from what are today uttar pradesh & bihar. the main exceptions would be the gujarati concentration in east africa and the tamils in southeast asia (though mauritius and south africa have large tamil minorities).

  9. i think most old (i.e., ancestors were abroad before partition) overseas indian communities drew disproportionately from what are today uttar pradesh & bihar. the main exceptions would be the gujarati concentration in east africa and the tamils in southeast asia (though mauritius and south africa have large tamil minorities).

    The Indians in Reunion (now part of France) are mostly what they call “Malabar”. They are mostly Tamil–they were forced to convert to catholicism during their indenture but they still practice Thai pusam and animal sacrifice. There is a smaller gujarati Indian muslim community. These were business men who possibly got off the boat on their way to South Africa and stayed.

    India has long ignored this older diaspora that Razib talks about. As Naipaul wrote in his most recent offering: the only diaspora Indians care about is the green card diaspora–well something like that.

  10. You know, I couldn’t help it. About half-way through the video my eyes strayed and I started watching the blond girl in the back. And I wonder: Was she supposed to be there? If you watch the video you’ll see she looks like she just wandered onto the set expecting to be in the next Skinamax feature and they were like “We don’t have a blond yet! Come dance for us!”

    Right at 1:27 she just loses her place in the choreography runs out of steam and never recovers.

    Sad sad sad.

  11. 1 · razib said

    speaking of a similar mixed-race brown individual, i stumbled upon tansey coetzee, the 1/2 cape coloured & 1/2 indian miss south africa 2007 while looking for examples of extant phenotypic variation….

    This is the emblematic razib ‘Desi Nerd Superhero’ post ;-)

    I mean this in an affectionate way bro, but that really made me chuckle. Keep it up!

  12. Thara is actually really good. I know there is always a lot of doubt when it comes to desi Girls singing…cuz we always remember Veronica..haha But Thara is way better. She looks like she could catch on actually. Her music is on iTunes. Its worth testing out I think. Shif

  13. 17 · baingandabhartha said OK! WHAT is kundi?!!!!

    i havent been on much, but this requires a musical performance by puli.

    ahem me, me, me, me, me! clears throat. la, la, la…

    (puli puts on tuxedo with tails and gets on stage)

    (puli sings in best oepratic voice)

    KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI! KUNDI!

    Grazie! Grazie! (puli takes bow while audience throws roses)

  14. What do you get when you combine a half-Black, half-Irish Mom with a Guyanese-Indian Dad?

    Fugly offspring.

  15. 19 · Puliogre in da USA said

    i havent been on much, but this requires a musical performance by puli.

    Ohhhh, Puli! I have missed you. :)

    I was just thinking about you, after re-reading the thread I linked to in my earlier comment (no. 18), and here you are! I’ve been thinking of you a lot, lately. In fact, at Monday’s Subcontinental Drift, I mentioned the ORIGINAL opera performance of “Kundi- the aria”, by the Puli! ;)

    How’ve you been?

  16. Anna, does the Malayalam word for ‘son’ sound like ‘kundi’ also ? (but without the nasal ‘n’ that was missing in Amardeep’s title)? Or itw, does the Malayalam word for ‘son’ sound a bit like the Punjabi for ‘girl’ (kudi) but pronounced slightly differently?

    PS Hi Puli! How did you manage to stay lurked this long?

  17. It’s hard to hear if she can actually sing or not, nowadays production technologies can smooth out the kinks in anybody’s voice…

  18. It’s pretty weird when you google someone’s name and almost every other entry about them refers to their “racial” makeup in a recipe like manner: “She is half Indian, one fourth black and one quarter Irish.” like it’s some kind of quality and achievement in itself, or that ununsual (not that unusual for the caribbean).

    sighs

  19. In fact, at Monday’s Subcontinental Drift, I mentioned the ORIGINAL opera performance of “Kundi- the aria”, by the Puli! ;) How’ve you been?

    lost my job, have a grlfriend. spending more time with grlfriend than my mistress SM.

  20. 24 · yucksta said

    It’s pretty weird when you google someone’s name and almost every other entry about them refers to their “racial” makeup in a recipe like manner: “She is half Indian, one fourth black and one quarter Irish.” like it’s some kind of quality and achievement in itself, or that ununsual (not that unusual for the caribbean).

    I think they pay so much attention to it because of the inscrutable end result of those combined elements, hence my extended fixation on how to me, she looks Filipina.

    You’re right, being mixed is not unusual for the Caribbean, but I’ve never seen a cocktail like Thara. :) I’ll fully cop to staring at her in wonder, trying to see if she sets off my browndar. She doesn’t. If I had watched her video on MTV, I wouldn’t have ever guessed she was desi.

    aside: my Indo-Guyanese friends tell me that brown and black don’t mix, that there’s too much animosity…but I’ve never been able to figure out how that is possible, since I’ve met plenty of Afro-Guyanese people who claim desi relatives and then point to their straight hair for emphasis.

  21. 22 · chachaji said

    Anna, does the Malayalam word for ‘son’ sound like ‘kundi’ also ? (but without the nasal ‘n’ that was missing in Amardeep’s title)? Or itw, does the Malayalam word for ‘son’ sound a bit like the Punjabi for ‘girl’ (kudi) but pronounced slightly differently?

    Do you mean “kutty”? That’s all I can come up with, but I’ve always thought of that as a feminine term of endearment; for example, at home-home, i.e. back in the pind, I’m “Anaykutty” or “Lathakutty”. My mom still gets mail addressed to “Mollykutty”, which always makes me smile. :)

    My dad’s other best friend– on SM, I’ve only ever reffed the Iyer who is responsible for my vegetarianism ;) –was called “Apukuttan”, “kuttan” being masculine and thus, the obvious choice for my father, who called me “Lathakuttan”, therefore providing credence to my cousins who theorize that my Father thought I was a boy.

    Most people I know refer to their sons as “Mon”, just as my mom refers to her “Mol” when people ask where I am, i.e. “Mutha mol Washingtonila (My eldest daughter is in Washington)”. I’m not the best person to ask though, because my transliteration skills tend to annoy most Malayalees to the point of offense. :(

  22. Puli, look at you and your bad self! :)

    Tansey looks browner to me than Thara does, but in the end, it matters not. I’ll claim ‘em both. ;)

    ANNA, I don’t mean this negatively AT ALL, but isn’t this assumption of “brown-ness” kind of ignoring all the brownz up in the NE Indian states (e.g., Aranchal, Sikkim, Nagaland, Assam, Orissa, etc. [also, disclaimer to the NE desis, I apologize because I have next to know knowledge of the area or its resistance struggles/civil wars, so if I have used a name for a state that is under contention, I have no political agenda or intent -- it's pure ignorance]) and in Bhutan (often lumped in as part of “South Asia”)? I can understand the comment re: Thara looking pinay, but it’s also reasonable to think that “looking Asian” is not intrinsically less brown, but just regionally distinct from what each individual may assume is normatively desi. Right?

  23. 29 · Camille said

    ANNA, I don’t mean this negatively AT ALL, but isn’t this assumption of “brown-ness” kind of ignoring all the brownz up in the NE Indian states…I can understand the comment re: Thara looking pinay, but it’s also reasonable to think that “looking Asian” is not intrinsically less brown, but just regionally distinct from what each individual may assume is normatively desi. Right?

    Um, right. :) No, I know what you mean and it’s an important point.

    [I really should be more careful about what I write, rather, more paranoid than I already am. ;) ]

  24. Anna, thanks so much for #28! I thought there was a word like ‘koDi’ which meant ‘boy’ or ‘son’. But I might have heard wrong, and it was ‘kuTTan’.

  25. 25 · Puliogre in da USA said

    lost my job, have a grlfriend. spending more time with grlfriend than my mistress SM.

    Congrats. puli. I am glad my delinquency as a wingman didn’t jeopardize your chances at pulikaaichal. (for whatever reason, the famed infamous post does not load in my browser. Is there any way to split it into two smaller webpages, or some such thing?). But what’s with neglecting your mistress? That’s not how us southies roll.

  26. but it’s also reasonable to think that “looking Asian” is not intrinsically less brown, but just regionally distinct from what each individual may assume is normatively desi. Right?

    i’m bengali, so i agree (i have an uncle whose nickname is “jackie chan” for a reason). in fact, i’ve gotten pissed before when people have observed that s. mitra kalita (family assamese) doesn’t look quite indian. i also had an acquaintance in college who was from nepal and was obviously pissed when brownz would be surprised that she was hindu. that being said…i do think that there is a strong central tendency for what brownz “look like”. e.g., i’m not hairy myself, but i’m told brown people are very hairy, and no one disputes this. so, i think generally it is OK to acknowledge the stereotypical issues so long as it isn’t crassly exclusive. it goes back to the “what is a desi?” debate. i think a person of swedish ancestry whose parents converted to hinduism and raised them hindu has a claim to identifying with brown folk because it is a reality that hinduism and south asia have a very strong connection, just like someone who converts to islam from a swedish background will likely take interest in, and probably identify with, middle eastern issues and people. on the other hand, a young woman who was born in india but adopted by a lutheran family in minneapolis can also claim desiness based on the fact that people will always perceive this person as somehow “indian” by their exterior. but all that being said, these are two boundary conditions, and obviously not typical. and i think the same sort of reasoning might apply to northeast indians who might be confused for chinese or northwest indians who might be confused for whites. we should accept diversity, but not deny the generality.

  27. “we should accept diversity, but not deny the generality.”

    that’s my opinion, and my own personal operational procedure with how i classify and identify with people re: my brownness. i’m not making a recommendation to the central party committee to insert that as a declaration in the little-brown-book ;-)

  28. e.g., i’m not hairy myself, but i’m told brown people are very hairy, and no one disputes this. so, i think generally it is OK to acknowledge the stereotypical issues so long as it isn’t crassly exclusive

    Part of this might be a “first mover” issue — what I assume is normatively true re: “stereotypical brownness” in the diaspora is reflected both in how I think of migration patterns (e.g., who migrates from where), geographic proximity, and representations in popular media. I’m weird, though.

    [I really should be more careful about what I write, rather, more paranoid than I already am. ;) ]

    I hated to bring it up :( You’re often so sensitive and thoughtful, and I definitely have the same reflex around what I think is stereotypically the “desi” phenotype. That said, my all-desi “[East] Asian-looking” cousins (half Tibetan-Nepali, half Punjabi) understandably annoyed anytime comments on how “chini” (Chinese) they look.

  29. 37 · Camille said

    I hated to bring it up :( You’re often so sensitive and thoughtful, and I definitely have the same reflex around what I think is stereotypically the “desi” phenotype.

    Camille, don’t hate that you brought it up. Your words were kind and I thank you for them. :) I really appreciate that you understood what I poorly articulated and knew that I didn’t mean to offend.

    I wouldn’t want someone like your cousin to read this thread and think I was an ass. I have an ass, but I try not to be one. ;)

  30. 34 · razib said

    but it’s also reasonable to think that “looking Asian” is not intrinsically less brown, but just regionally distinct from what each individual may assume is normatively desi. Right? i’m bengali, so i agree (i have an uncle whose nickname is “jackie chan” for a reason). in fact, i’ve gotten pissed before when people have observed that s. mitra kalita (family assamese) doesn’t look quite indian.

    Interesting points.

    I am a “typical Andhra southie” with tan colored skin, short height, wavy hair, big round eyes, etc, etc My southie Mysorean husband is also like me,but a much taller version and of course, male. On his father’s side, though, most of the relatives have the epicanthal eye folds and very small features and darker skin tones. Other desis always think they are Nepali. These physical traits never got passed on to him, but our daughter has the smaller eyes from her paternal grandfather’s side . (On my mothers side, everyone also has small eyes, but not like my husband’s family.) Her extremely straight jet black hair and lighter skin tone must have come from my side and or the paternal grandmother’s side. At least that is my guess. A couple of her East Asian friends thought she was either Nepalese or a Filipina at first sight. One of the girls even asked if she was from China and adopted by this Indian couple. I am still trying to figure that one out.

    I guess Desis have a wide variety of physical traits, etc. For instance my Andhra father has light green eyes and pale skin but my (also pure Andhra) mom is the exact opposite.

  31. For instance my Andhra father has light green eyes and pale skin

    Really? Interesting. I thought I was one of the few Andhras with those characteristics. I certainly get my share of incredulous looks from people when I say I am desi (let alone from Andhra).

  32. (in response to #41) Not only does my father have the pale tone green eyes and light skin, his sisters have them too. Neither of his parents or his brothers have green or light colored eyes. He (and his sisters, my paternal aunts) have to be careful in the sun since they are prone to sunburns. These are pakka Telugu folks from the heart of Andhra Pradesh.

  33. In my last post I meant to say my father and his relatives are typical Andhras in habits and culture, and language and not the physical looks.

  34. You’re right, being mixed is not unusual for the Caribbean, but I’ve never seen a cocktail like Thara. :)

    Many of the Caribs I meet are exactly that cocktail; Afro-Indo-Iro.

    What’s the scoop on the Irish presence in Carribbean history?

    • The scoop on Irish in the Caribbean… the Irish were sent there as plantation owners… blacks were brought as slaves, indians were brought as ‘indentured labourers’. A lot of Caribbean accents are influenced by the Irish accent :D

  35. Ahhhhh! Kundi knowledge finally! Thank you all for that. Just so you know-kundi- in punjabi means a hook-as in kundi-connection-used extensively in rural punjab to steal power from the govt. People throw their kundis over the wires and hook the cable upto their homes/water pumps etc. I cant help laughing hysterically imagining a Punjabi trying to get a kundi connection in Kerala. Yes, I am easily amused.

    I have a sister in law who is Fijian-Indian. The word chunni is used extensively in our family (chunni in punjabi is the same as dupatta-worn with a Punjabi suit-for those who might not know). The word chunni as used by Fijians is slang for the vagina. The first time the two families met for a wedding ceremony, the word chunni caused some consternation and later, much hilarity.

  36. 46 · baingandabhartha said

    I cant help laughing hysterically imagining a Punjabi trying to get a kundi connection in Kerala. Yes, I am easily amused.

    I’m laughing too, because I am also easily amused. :) I love the chunni info, btw. ;)

  37. 44 · Irish Creme said

    You’re right, being mixed is not unusual for the Caribbean, but I’ve never seen a cocktail like Thara. :)
    Many of the Caribs I meet are exactly that cocktail; Afro-Indo-Iro. What’s the scoop on the Irish presence in Carribbean history?

    Pretty much the same as how Indians wound up in the Caribbean ( well Jamaica as far as I know), they just had more opportunities abroad than they did in Ireland and offered the chance they emmigrated, then mixed in with the indeginous population (for the most part). There are quite a few cocktails like Thara, just visit Kingston in Jamaica, you’ll find them walking/driving around (uptown mostly), the reason being, I think I may have said before, Jamaica being a class stratified society, the peopple that have money don’t have to emmigrate, and most of those people tend to be Indians, Whites, Chinese, the few well off blacks and the various mixes of all those. That’s why most of the Jamaican’s you see abroad tend to be black.

  38. Another reason there are relatively large numbers of Irish in the Caribbean is that white indentured servants were drawn from the poor and marginalized in 17th century British society. Large numbers of Irish (with or without separatist tendencies) were sentenced to indentured servitude in the West Indies by British courts for a variety of “crimes” ranging from rebellion to “looking at me in a funny way”. The end of white indentured servitude for lack of warm bodies and the increased racialization of menial labor as being “only” a black/brown thing occurred between 1670 and 1700. The continuation of the trans-atlantic slave trade until 1807 meant that more African people ended up in the West Indies and hence these folks formed the majority of people in the Caribbean. Desi and Chinese migration as indentured labor in the 19th centuries was never as numerous as the slave trade (with the partial exception of Cuba during the 1880s).