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Jasmine Dotiwala

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The Power Behind Prince

Posted: 19/05/2012 00:00

This fortnight much of the music industry were excited about the announcement of a Prince Tour which begins on 22 May in Australia. The UK music industry was even more excited as he personally handpicked British songstress Delilah (real name Paloma Stoecker) to open his shows.

Whilst all eyes are on the front player however, it's always interesting to see who the movers, shakers and influencers behind the scene are.

The unexpected force behind Prince is an Asian British female - Kiran Sharma. She is the manager of Prince. Yes, you read correctly. The legend that is Prince Rogers Nelson.

Kiran was shaped by her birthplace of Luton, which was "a bit rough and tough", until she was eight. At the age of nine, due to her father's work commitments, the family moved to Norwich. ''At that time ethnic minorities in Norwich were rare and I was the only Indian kid in my school and got bullied for a couple of years."

I imagine it's this early need for self-defence and survival that has shaped Kiran into the astute businesswoman she is today. She could just as easily have turned into the bullied underclass, but she didn't let it subdue her. She fought, toughened up and grew to be a bit of a tomboy. This early grounding moulded her character and she's able to roll in the best of both worlds and adapt to all societies and circumstances.

Due to her traditional Indian background, she was expected to get a corporate job, so did an engineering degree majoring in marketing, "to please everyone" although she would have preferred to do art.

From being a marketing assistant for a small magazine to account director for an international marketing agency, Kiran ticked all the boxes for her parents and peers before casting her career net even wider.

Kiran helped out a new unsigned American singer, managed a few events, put together the tours and worked hard to build her experience and reputation. Thus came her early connections with acts like Martha High, Maceo Parker, Annie Lennox, Leon Ware, Mint Condition and Prince.

For two years she worked two jobs simultaneously, working her day job until 6pm then her own company until the early hours. She admits she had no time for relationships and family, but her time was well spent as she was so passionate and was having so much fun working on building a future. ''I was working with acts that had been in the industry for over 20 years and got to learn loads from them,'' she enthuses her eyes twinkling with memories.

Of course I had to ask Kiran why she thinks Prince gravitated towards her in a business capacity in this later part of his career. "Well you would have to ask him that," she judiciously responds.

She went on to explain that she first met him when she booked him for a London event, but that they didn't even talk, (lesson 1, ladies - no groupie behaviour!), though eventually that all changed.

"Everyone has this perception that successful women are hard-nosed. I realised that just being myself worked for me," she tells me with a smile.

"Indian people tend to have a respect level for all other cultures and ultimately respect hard work. These things are instilled in us at kids. My granddad used to say to his four daughters, 'I can't give you a house or money, but I can give you an education. No one can take that away from you.'"

As with many big power players, Kiran's attention to charity and giving back plays a dominant part in her work. Many of her music acts began performing at charity events for the likes of Save the Children and Kiran became increasingly involved in various campaigns. Today, she is a trustee of Arms Around a Child, which supports kids affected by HIV and AIDS in India and Africa and builds orphanages for abandoned children.

Kiran was also nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year in the Asian Woman of Achievement Awards 2012, which took place on May 16 at London's Park Lane Hilton. She said: "It's great to be nominated alongside these women. The Asian Woman of Achievement Awards is such an important platform for British Asian women and I am hugely honoured to be shortlisted alongside such exceptional ladies. I met a few of them recently and they're all fascinating and I felt proud to be in their company. One thing in common we all had was our similar experiences as women of Asian background. If you can come out of this industry doing something you love and can sustain your lifestyle, and you've managed to do it in a way that's respectful to you, your culture and all around, then it's a winning situation."

Now that's business balls with a female chromosome!

 

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