Singer/songwriter Swati sometimes describes her music as "acoustic metal," which has more to do with the ferocity with which she strums her opened-tuned guitar than any apparent Black Sabbath influence, but it also reflects the personal and uncompromising nature of her songs and the intensity of her vocal style, as challenging as anything run through a wall of Marshall amps. Born in New York City in 1973 to parents who had emigrated from India, Swati Sharma grew up in a musical household, and studied classical trombone as a teenager. While Swati was good enough to perform in a symphonic recital at Carnegie Hall at age 17, she says her habit of changing notes to suit her taste frustrated her teachers, and at 18 she gave up the horn to become a self-taught guitarist.
Swati began writing songs that were at once confessional and confrontational while working at a Manhattan nightspot, Nightingale's, and before long she became a regular performer on the club's stage. By 1999, Swati's intense live shows had won her a large enough following for her to be booked as part of the touring Lilith Fair festival, but she felt the hard edges of her music weren't suited to the laid-back vibe of the event, and she became even more strongly determined to find success on her own terms. While performing around New York, Swati found a champion in Duke McVinnie of the band Shivaree, who was strongly impressed by her songs and helped her record an independent album (co-produced and engineered by Brandon Mason) at Allaire Studios in New York's Catskill Mountains. The album, simply titled Swati, was released in 2005; a second album, Small Gods, is scheduled for release in 2007. ~ Mark Deming