Kiran Gandhi, 2019 Graduation Ceremony Keynote Speaker

2019 Graduation Ceremony will be held on Thursday, June 20, 2019, at our own field and we will welcome an inspiring keynote speaker from the US, Kiran Gandhi.

Los Angeles-based performer Kiran Gandhi, aka Madame Gandhi, is a singer, percussionist, activist and music industry thinker known for her electronic-based sound and fourth wave feminist perspective. A native of New York City, Gandhi grew up in a socially minded immigrant family, the daughter of an investment banker and CEO of a non-profit. During her youth, she attended the all-girls Chapin School in Manhattan and traveled often between New York City and Bombay, India. It wasn’t until age 12, while attending summer camp in Maine, that she first became seriously interested in music after discovering a drum set. Although she kept pursuing music, she eventually shifted her focus toward politics and began studying Political Science, Mathematics, and Women’s Studies at Georgetown University. It was while at Georgetown that Gandhi‘s interests in music and politics fused after discovering that boundary-pushing electronic duo Thievery Corporation had organized a protest over the closing of a local homeless shelter.

Inspired by the possible synergy between music and social activism, she found herself on-stage playing shows with Thievery Corporation, including an appearance at Bonnaroo in 2010. Other internships followed and after graduating college, Gandhi was hired as the first digital analyst at Interscope Records in Los Angeles. While at Interscope in 2013, she managed to get her drumming audition video into the hands of forward-thinking, politically minded rapper/electronic artist M.I.A., who then invited her to join her band on tour. Around the same time that Gandhi was preparing to hit the road with M.I.A., she was also accepted into Harvard Business School’s MBA program. Subsequently, she spent the next few years juggling playing shows around the world with M.I.A. and taking classes. In 2015, she graduated from Harvard with her M.B.A.

That same year, she sparked a viral conversation about how menstruation is treated in various cultures after she ran the London Marathon free-bleeding to raise awareness about period stigma and people who do not have access to menstrual care products around the world.

Also around this time, she began working on music under the stage name Madame Gandhi, while Alexia Riner — a Berklee College of Music graduate in sound design — became a key contributor to the project, providing electronic soundscapes and co-production. In 2016, she released her debut EP, Voices, featuring guest appearances from Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs and Alt-J guitarist Joe Newman.

Since then, Gandhi has been featured on Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list and her 2018 “Own Your Voice” TED Talk has been viewed 150,000+ times. She has drummed for acts such as Krewella , Lizzo and Kehlani and travels to perform her own music and speak about modern gender equality. As an activist, Kiran uses her voice, music and written work to empower her audiences to be their best and authentic selves. She believes wholeheartedly in the idea that we must strive to live in a world that is “linked and not ranked”, in which each person has something unique to contribute to one another, if encouraged to access their fullest potential.

Kiran has partnered with various menstrual health organizations to improve women’s access to affordable and safe menstrual care. She speaks often about fourth wave feminism and how menstruation taboo affects women and girls daily around the world, and was part of the early round table discussions that lead to the elimination of the “luxury tax” on tampons in her home city of New York.

Upon releasing her first-ever electrofeminist solo EP called Voices, Madame Gandhi now tours full-time as a speaker and musician and is working on her next album. The second installment of her three-part EP series is called Visions (July 2019).

“Own your voice, don’t be afraid. The future is female.”

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