When you have become a representative of the term, it’s your narrative that provides the elements that form the answer.
To illustrate, Chin Injeti.
Born in Hyderabad India, Chin is the middle child to a father who was a classical vocalist and a mother who was a surgical nurse.
Having to survive polio from birth, his parents thought it best for the whole family to move to Toronto, Canada.
Chin was surrounded by music all his life and in the family home the exposure ranged from classical to folk, ragas to Stevie Wonder, and to his parents favorite, ABBA. At every turn there was a rhythm or melody that would draw him in – footsteps down the hall, heart monitors, the sound of passing cars – it was everywhere.
At the age of five Injeti sang in three languages. At the age of eight he was in music therapy treatments to help facilitate his motor skills. This changed his life.
More than just something he heard from day to day, music became a healing force that started to transform his body and help it realize it’s full capacity.
With embodied renewal came a clarity of purpose.
His shyness in high school paved the way for him to use solitude to grow his passion for all things music. While the rest of his world was partying and doing what most teenagers do, Injeti locked himself in his room with his Bass and studied the greats like Jaco, Marcus Miller, Paul McCartney, Bootsy and many more.
Although he never tried to draw attention to himself, as the only student with a visible disability in his school he had to get used to more than enough attention. So when school started again after one summer holiday, he joined the jazz band and excelled. This was the genesis of recognition of his artistic giftedness and his journey toward acceptance of his relationship and identity with music.
In University Injeti was part of a jam band that played (what seemed to him like) every party on campus. They created a loyal following all around the city and as the band’s lead singer and bassist, his personal notoriety grew. He was the charismatic kid on crutches that always got the party lit!
During the last year of school, Injeti recorded an indie album of the band in a home studio built by his father & brother. That CD ended up selling 70,000 copies and served as his introduction to the music industry!
The band (by then known as Bass is Base) went on to win fans all over the world and garnered a deal with Universal Music and Island records in the United States.
Fronted by Injeti, the group won a Juno (Canadian Grammy) for best R&B record, a Much Music Video award for a song called “Funkmobile” and Chin was awarded with Songwriter of the Year from SOCAN.
But like all good things, Bass is Base came to an end and Injeti moved to the west coast where he found love and some space to redefine himself as an artist.
With the passage of time, Chin also got rooted in his affinity for songwriting and production which was later matched by proficiency and graceful ease behind the board.
With many years of creating, touring and performing all over North America with the likes of The Fugees, The Roots, Jamiroquoi, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and so many more, Chin learned the craft of carving out frequencies and the importance of an impactful lyric and melody. For years he just listened and watched until he was able to take a selfless approach to his craft, where he put the song and the artist before everything.
Injeti once said that his talent took him from “impression” to a place of “expression” The purpose of the song was always the most important.
His purpose, indeed, became crystal clear when Injeti teamed up with then partner DJ Khalil; with whom he made music with and for the likes of Dr Dre, Eminem (“Recovery,”and “Survival” which he later won 2 Grammys for), Drake (“Fear”), Pink (“Here comes The Weekend”), Aloe Blacc (“I’m the Man,” “Can You Do This”), The Clipse (“Kinda Like a Big Deal” feat. Kanye), Lecrae (“Mayday” and another Grammy win), K’Naan (“Waving Flag” and another Juno award) and so many other artists.
Injeti’s impact on music was slowly taking shape with millions of records sold and Gold & Platinum plaques as evidence, and, perhaps most significantly, his being able to pick and choose the artists that he wanted to work with.
Integrity as a core value was always very important to him and he was now beginning to realize that music was not only his superpower but also a universal language that could connect people to each other. These realities converged in a decision to step back from the ever changing music industry to teach and create a curriculum for Vancouver based music school NIMBUS. Additionally, he crafted and delivered a Tedx presentation on the healing properties of music where he shared his story of how music saved his life.
Recently, he was awarded a star on the prestigious Granville walk of Fame in his adopted hometown of Vancouver for his contributions to the music community and artistic sphere.
Chin Injeti is a force of nature – an inspiration, a teacher, mentor, leader, innovator, singer and multi instrumentalist, writer, collaborator, student; and yes, Icon.
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