Not many 14-year-olds can say they've made a record during their school holidays. The Dubai resident Nimesha Jayasinghe, however, has already had a taste of fame – something she seems to be taking well in her stride.
Her hit single Ratak Ratak and its music video were recorded during her school holidays in her family's native Sri Lanka. Jayasinghe was surprised to see the video broadcast on the national TV channel Rupavahini during the country's 64th Independence Day celebrations recently.
"It's the best of both worlds," she says of her school/fame balance. "My dad is very passionate about Sri Lankan music and he supports me in every way - I made the song to make him proud, because it's his dream for me to be a singer. I'm living his dream and mine, too."
Jayasinghe's father, Prem, manages the Sinhalese band City Creek as well as a studio, both of which are based in his home country. The songwriter Baila Santi is a family friend who wrote Ratak Ratak for Jayasinghe.
"Ratak Ratak means 'independent country'. The song is about Sri Lanka, how we were in 30 years of war and now the war's over and everyone is getting together," she says. "I made the song to show to Sri Lankan people that even though I grew up here [in Dubai] and English is my first language, that I'm still Sri Lankan. I'm not ashamed to show that I'm Sri Lankan and I'm proud to be Sri Lankan."
Jayasinghe's family and friends also appear in the video, which was shot on location in Sri Lanka over a two-week period.
"It was so much fun, it was incredible," she says. "It boosts your self-esteem and confidence. I was definitely pleased with how it turned out."
The talented teenager has been singing since she was a child, and practised karaoke songs for friends and family at home, who encouraged her to make a record. Now her talent has progressed from singing into a hairbrush in her bedroom, to karaoke at home, to the Sri Lankan charts.
Her siblings (two sisters and a brother) are also accomplished singers who "sing along to anything" with their sister at home. Jayasinghe is trained by a vocal coach who instructs her on singing basics, pitching and how to warm up her voice to avoid straining her vocal chords, and she uses the piano to sing scales.
Music will "definitely" be a subject she selects for her GCSE study options, which she'll start working on in the next school year, she says. The young singer has also been encouraged by teachers at Gems Wellington International School to share her talent, by singing in school recitals and competitions. School friends in Dubai have also been supportive, Jayasinghe says. "They don't know Sri Lankan, but they listen to it [the song] and sing along. They encourage me a lot."
The superstars Beyoncé and Rihanna are Jayasinghe's idols and she's planning a music career when she's older.
"I definitely want to be a singer and I definitely want to do music," she says, "but before music there's always study. You have to study and once you've got through that, then music is definitely one of the things I want to focus on.
"It's a talent and I don't want to waste it," she adds.
With more than two other songs in the pipeline, Jayasinghe is hoping to make more records and music videos during her summer holidays. Hopefully, she says, her album will be released in Sri Lanka in the near future.
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