Gurl is a junior at UMBC who uses her passion for music and activism to create songs of support and empowerment. Photo courtesy of Gurleen Kaur Ahuja.
In the midst of Quadmania headlines and spring break plans, it is easy to oversee the hidden talent that lives right under our noses. With her sensual sound and revolutionary mission, Gurleen Kaur Ahuja is braving the music industry one SoundCloud post at a time.
Gurleen, who goes by the stage name Gurl, sought out music to channel the poetry and emotion in Sikhism. At eight years old, playing the harmonium helped her to express the universal truthfulness of her religion for family and friends. The poetic language of scripture paved a way for songwriting which only grew over time. New Gurl has put in countless studio hours inside and outside of school to expand her network of DJ’s, producers, singers and musicians of all backgrounds. Meeting new people and making friends while recording is “the best part of the work,” she disclosed. “I don’t connect with the sound engineers in separate booths. When there’s no wall, just a mic and our equipment, I can work freely,” she shared.
Inspired by icons Kendrick Lamar and Russ, Gurl intends to build a fan base by tapping into the differences that make us not only human, but connected. “I’m not interested in making music for my own pleasure,” Gurleen stated. “I want my songs to be meaningful.”
This is seen in “Guarded Tree,” a song that examined the dual life of a college student living with epilepsy. As a person who suffers from epilepsy herself, Gurl challenges the need to stay guarded “in a world where everyone will push you to follow the norm.” By singing about the rooted integrity of trees, she empowers all her listeners to realize their capability of living full and vibrant lives — no matter their struggles.
As a junior double majoring in global studies and pre-nursing, stress has its way of creeping into her life. “I spend my day committed to classes so my nights are open to work on new music,” she says. “I like to stay organized.” On one hand, she’s involved in organizations such as Students Helping Honduras, an international non-governmental organization volunteer program that provides fundamental human needs to impoverished families in Honduras. On the other hand, her next musical project will illustrate the effects of war in Syria and need to improve global diplomacy.
When asked about how she balances music with political activism Gurl responded, “With extremely humble roots, my father and his family moved from New Delhi India to the U.S at age eleven and he worked hard to make sure my sister,brother, and I could make a life for ourselves. It is my duty to tell the stories of the unspoken, but also to understand my privilege and work to use it to other’s advantages.”
There’s no doubt that Gurl is on her way to making a mark in music — if she has not already. After school, she plans to take a gap year dedicated to creating songs and possibly moving her work to New York. Just days ago, Gurl dropped a new single called “My Body.” While discussing the meaning behind “My Body,” Gurl shared that it connected to her aim to establish a resource center for “gurls” that suffer sexual and domestic abuse. It is clear that Gurl is tackling issues one guitar string at a time. “I have to see it happen,” she emphasized. “My push is time.”