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This Indian college student’s jazz vocals have taken him to the semi-final of Asia’s Got Talent

Sumit Sadawarti’s journey involved a long battle with depression, and, miraculously, a duet with the legendary David Foster.

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It isn’t every day that a young musician gets to perform with a 16-Grammy Award-winning music producer. No wonder Sumit Sadawarti was floored when the legendary David Foster got on stage during Asia’s Got Talent to accompany him on the piano.

The 22-year-old jazz and blues singer-songwriter from India hadn’t even expected to make it to the talent show, let alone get a chance to jam with Foster. But his powerful, evocative vocal rendition of Ella Fitzgerald’s timeless Cry Me a River during the audition (video above) earned him a spot on the show, where he has now reached the semi-final – the first Indian to get as far.

“Honestly, right before Asia’s Got Talent, I was questioning myself if I was doing the right thing,” Sadawarti told Scroll.in. “I have been performing in public for the last two years, but I still hadn’t received that one definitive push you need. So I just decided to try it, once and for all. And the next moment, there I was, performing with one of my idols, David Foster.”

Sadawarti began dreaming of becoming a singer when a child – he wrote his first original tune when he was 12. But he was overwhelmed by school, and by bullies who induced a long battle with depression. “That is when I started to really understand the words I was singing and realised that this was the way to go,” said Sadawarti.

“Honestly, I did not expect to make it this far,” confessed the singer. He was nervous about the semi-final, to be aired on Thursdaym November 30, but he was hopeful that his performance – a stylised jazz standard from the 1934 film Dames – would get him through to the grand finale. Sadawarti may be at a disadvantage since the show is not aired in India but, as he said, “Everyone around the world can vote, so I’m praying that my country and people around the world who appreciate my music will vote for me.”

Currently a student at Ashoka University, Sadawarti spends much of his time writing music, and is working on a jazz and blues album right now, with which he’s hoping to tour India and Asia.

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