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Meet Yoko Rai, The Singing Ventriloquist

The Mumbai artist recently released her debut single ‘Just Fine,’ featuring her puppets

David Britto Sep 01, 2020

Mumbai-based ventriloquist Yoko Rai. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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Brought up in a musical family, singer Yoko Rai made the most of it performing in choirs, college events, picking up the piano and settling into playing live gigs. However, once she took up a corporate job, music took a back seat. Rai says, “Fast forward to now after my son was born and I’ve found my way back to music, as a performer and teacher.” In 2017, she caught a young ventriloquist called Darci Lynne on T.V. show America’s Got Talent and soon became fascinated with ventriloquism.

It wasn’t long before Rai began honing her skills as a ventriloquist and even made her first puppet named Tutu to help with her act. She says, “Before I knew it, I was suddenly a singing ventriloquist.” Rai would go on to perform at various shows, including sets at schools and even overseas. To add to her performance, the artist increased her clan with puppets Zola, Dolly and Froggy du Pond. “All three have distinctive personalities and voices, which enhance their singing,” says Rai.

Recently, Rai and her puppets released an optimistic ditty called “Just Fine” as part of talent platform Hungama Artist Aloud’s initiative to raise funds for daily wage earners affected by the coronavirus. The track includes Tutu and Zola showing off their vocal range, dynamism and quirkiness. “I mean all I could think of is the song being as simple as it can be and conveying a message, and then ending it with a reassurance of we will be fine,” says the ventriloquist.

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Although Rai has found success performing covers, she’s quite keen to write more of her own material and start releasing it. The artist plans to work on a children’s album with her puppets. She says, “Moreover with puppets, the additional angle would be to put out a video as well to support the audio release.” As Rai preps for her next offering, she does feel that ventriloquism is a dying art. However, the puppet artist is as passionate as ever about it since she began her journey as one. Rai says, “I am very happy to be able to have taken singing to the next level.”

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