Photo Credits: Courtesy. Third-year Tiara Abraham sits on the egg head in front of UC Davis Music Building.
The musical child prodigy discusses her pursuit of vocal performance
While many might find performing in front of crowds of over 20,000 people daunting, Tiara Abraham, a 14-year-old third-year music major at UC Davis, has conquered stage fright through a myriad of performances. She has showcased her talent at Carnegie Hall twice and has even sung the national anthem for the San Francisco Giants.
While this is her first year at UC Davis, she is graduating with the class of 2022. Her brother, Tanishq Abraham, also attended UC Davis as a 14-year-old, and graduated in 2018 with a degree in biomedical engineering.
Tiara started at Davis this quarter and is pursuing a degree in music, though she first started to sing when she was about four years old.
“When I turned seven, I realized that I loved music and I loved to sing, and it was something I was truly passionate about, so I found a voice teacher who was willing to train me and I began to learn the right techniques and healthy habits early on,” Tiara said.
As a vocalist, Tiara finds something special in all genres of music. Whether it’s classical or jazz, she finds a way to add a unique spin on the works she performs.
Over the past two years she has also been a part of the UC Davis chorus, which is open to community members as well as students and faculty. Although she is one of the youngest members of the choir, she explained how the age difference does not faze her.
“I have been taking college courses on campus since I was seven, and I have been surrounded by people who are two or three times older than me,” Tiara said. “But, after a while, you get used to it and it doesn’t feel weird anymore. Plus, if anything, people are supportive of having young students around.”
The soprano one singer explained how she truly feels in her element as a solo artist.
“In every choir or chorus you are alway asked to blend in your voice with others because you don’t want to hear distinct voices in a choir,” Tiara said. “For me, that’s a little more difficult because I like to sing to my fullest extent and add in my own style, but that is not always in the best interest of the chorus as a whole.”
Throughout her musical career there have been many people who have supported her, but every so often she receives criticism regarding her intended career choice.
“My voice teacher and my family have always been really supportive, but I learned through this journey that there are always going to be those naysayers that tell you to focus on something else,” Tiara said. “But singing is my passion, and that’s something my brother, Tanishq, always emphasized. It’s important to do something that you enjoy and that makes you happy, and music is something that makes me really happy.”
Tiara said that as an Indian-American, there are many stereotypes that she has defied throughout her journey.
“You don’t really see a lot of Indian-American opera singers, and it definitely surprises a lot of people that I want to pursue music as a career and not just a hobby,” Tiara said. “Especially when they hear about a child opera singer they think of the typical ‘America’s Got Talent’ performances, but it’s definitely a different reaction when you are a minority pursuing an art field versus something like science or engineering.”
Tiara’s mom, Taji Abraham, echoed her daughter’s sentiments.
“As a parent, it is a little concerning when your child wants to pursue a field that is a little more difficult to make a profession out of,” Taji said. “Especially coming from an Asian community, there is this expectation that future generations will become doctors and engineers, but having music as a side hobby is considered more ‘acceptable.’”
Furthermore, Taji added that it is not uncommon for people to compare her two children.
“Even within the people of our community, there is a difference in enthusiasm when they talk about Tanishq going into engineering or medicine versus when we say that Tiara is majoring in music,” Taji Abraham said. “There is a different response and I don’t think a lot of people really realize how difficult it is to actually pursue the academic side of music because it’s like a totally different language.”
Although Tiara has focused on developing her skills as a vocalist, her musical expertise has helped her learn other instruments such as the piano and violin.
“In my orchestration class, I have learned all about the instruments and how to use different or similar techniques on different instruments,” Tiara said. “In the future I would also like to be able to compose my own music, but learning new instruments helps with that process.”
Eventually, Tiara hopes to perform in opera houses. She cited the MET Opera House, the Sydney Opera House and the La Scala opera house as the top three performance halls she hopes to sing in some day.
For aspiring musicians and music majors, Tiara offered some advice.
“There are a lot of aspiring musicians that go straight into the music making process or start creating content, which is great, but I do believe that there is value in getting a proper music education,” Tiara said. “The most important thing is that you should pursue something that you are really passionate about, because it will make you work harder and forget about the people who might put you down.”
Written by Sneha Ramachandran — firstname.lastname@example.org