SRI PANCHALAM: Woman, Musician, and Fighter for Justice
I met Sri in person a few years back when my band Honey Whiskey Trio opened for her band, Smithfield Bargain at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, California. I was first blown away by her incredible petticoat, shortly followed by being blown away a second time her voice. She embodies the spirit of 1920’s-30’s jazz vocalists effortlessly on original music written by the band, as well as reimagined covers like “Oh, Susanna”.
Smithfield Bargain has toured in Brazil, and is a Los Angeles favorite. They are regulars in Hollywood, at the Grand Annex in San Pedro, and at the Coffee Gallery in Altadena. After spending an evening with Sri, She told me of her then new project called Doctors and Engineers, a band made up of completely South Asian musicians sharing stories though a garage punk band vibe, and not apologizing for any of it.
Their album “From a Good Family” is energetic, it’s raw, it’s psychedelic, and a whole lotta fun. Through their music, the band is able to bring stereotypes of South Asians to the forefront. That same night I found out about Doctors and Engineers, I also found out what Sri’s day job was… and yes… you guessed it… it blew me away.
Sri is a public interest attorney with Disability Rights California, an advocacy group dedicated to several legal aspects surrounding disability rights and ableism. She is also an advocate for women’s rights, immigration, and everyone facing discrimination.
Thank you, Sri, for showing how women can be many things, including strong, humble, and giving.