Solon High School student notches top 10 finish in citywide singing competition

Sanjeevan performing with her other competitors at “Shining Stars CLE.”

Courtesy of Shobitha Sanjeevan

Sanjeevan performing with her other competitors at “Shining Stars CLE.”

Christina Cartwright, Managing Editor

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Throughout high school, many students will explore  different clubs and activities. For Solon High School senior Shobitha Sanjeevan, she discovered that her passion is singing. Sanjeevan recently competed in the high school singing competition “Shining Stars CLE” on Saturday, Oct. 22 at Playhouse Square as a top 10 finalist.  

The competition was hosted by Montefiore, a nonprofit nursing home in Beachwood. The cause of the competition is to donate to those with dementia. The final competition raised funds for the Montefiore’s Memory Care Network. Sanjeevan shared how she had to submit a video audition over the summer, and after that the top 300 got to move on to an in-person audition in August. After this round there was semifinals, and the top 10 chosen students from this round were able to compete in finals.

Sanjeevan first heard of this competition from a close friend. She decided to try out, knowing there was nothing to lose from giving it a try.

“My mentality was a ‘no harm, no foul’ when entering this competition,” she said. “I submitted an Indian classical piece. I really did not expect to make it this far. Personally, I was just really excited to share my culture.”

To advance this far in a tournament, you not only need to have talent, but you must be unique. Show choir director Gary Lewis recalls what stood out about Sanjeevan when she auditioned for Music In Motion, SHS’s showchoir.

“I have seen hundreds of auditions since Shobitha’s audition for MIM,” he said. “What I remember most was the power in her voice, especially in the lower part of the alto range. The lowest alto part, called contralto, is especially rare. Shobitha is able to sing the lowest tones with ease.”

Sanjeevan has been described as dedicated by both Lewis and her personal instructor, Lalit Subramanian. Subramanian has been Sanjeevan’s instructor for eight years, and has watched her passion for music develop and improve throughout the years as well.

“Shobitha listens a lot to music and has already developed a strong sense of aesthetic, which is quite early compared to her peers,” he said. “She also has firm preferences musically and is not averse to expressing her opinions freely; this allows her to learn more effectively and efficiently.”

Sanjeevan’s aesthetic involves a mixture of Indian music and dancing and intertwining this with Western culture. Lewis shared how Sanjeevan’s love for both cultures makes her stand out as a student.

“While many students love singing and dancing, Shobitha has a love for music that is very special,” he said. “She is able to mesh her understanding of Indian cultural music and dance with Western music theory and contemporary dance. Very often, Shobitha will share a new correlation she has discovered between Indian and Western music.”

Courtesy of Shobitha Sanjeevan

Sanjeevan among the top ten finalists for “Shining Stars CLE”.

Her passion for musical culture and the practice she puts into her singing is what got her into the top ten. Although Sanjeevan claims she should’ve felt anxious before performing, she says she felt the exact opposite.

“I should have been nervous,” she said. “It was Playhouse Square, and the house was completely full. However, imagine singing in a black pit, a void of darkness. I couldn’t see anyone or anything, I could only hear the band behind me. I just melted into my song, and it felt as if time had slowed down.”  

The results of the competition were announced after the show, and although Sanjeevan didn’t make it into the top four, she was content with how far she advanced. She shared several intimate moments with patients at the nursing home, and her love and personal connection that derives from music is something that Sanjeevan says she will carry with her whether she won the competition or not.

“Music has been an outlet for me when I was bullied,” she said. “It’s still an outlet for me when I hear statements filled with hate and bigotry. It heals people, it brings people together. The mere fact that everything in this world is filled with rhythm: from a person’s heartbeat, to the cycle of the tides, to even a turning signal on a car; all of that is rhythm, all of that is music, and it’s so prevalent and connected in our lives. That’s were my inspiration stems from. Music helps so many people, including myself, find inner peace.”

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