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Born and raised in Amsterdam to a Catholic mother and Hindu father, Joelle Charan is empowered by her mixed heritage and religions. Her father is a descendent of indentured labourers from northwest India who worked under harsh conditions in Suriname following the abolition of slavery. She has reclaimed the surname ‘Charan’ after her family’s original surname 'Goercharan' was misspelled by a municipal official as 'Goercharn' upon their arrival in Amsterdam from Paramaribo, Suriname. With its correct spelling, ‘Charan’ means feet of the Lord, a name of honour which Joelle celebrates in her identity and music.
Upon graduating from the Conservatory of Amsterdam, Joelle moved to New York to deepen her knowledge of songwriting. She studied at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in Manhattan with generous scholarships from the prestigious Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and the conservatory itself. Joelle found inspiration in all corners of the city and returned from her year in New York with a suitcase full of beautiful new songs.
Joelle writes songs with a strong narrative. She captures her listener with descriptive lyrics that tell stories inspired by her Indian grandparents, her family’s hardships, and her adventures in New York. Drawing musical inspiration from the likes of Laura Mvula, Daniel Lanois and Lizz Wright, Joelle’s dreamy pop songs are infused with classical Indian elements for a sound which is both immersive and full of surprises.
When realising the vision for her music, Joelle enjoys complete creative control. She plays and experiments with traditional Indian instruments for her tracks, arranges the string quartet, writes scripts for video clips and photoshoots, and takes the lead in the studio. With this control, her songs truly feel like her own and something she can be proud of.
Since releasing her debut EP Silhouette in 2018, Joelle has performed extensively, attracting attention from radio, television and press throughout the Netherlands. Highlights include performing in Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam for Uitmarkt Festival 2019 as well as airplay and live performances on NPO Radio 1, NPO Radio 5, Sublime FM and Omrop Fryslân. She returned with her new single ‘I Believe In You’ that was released in the United Kingdom on 24th August 2020. Her second EP ‘Ashira’ is set for release on her father’s birthday, 12th October 2020.