Music Stars Making A Social Impact: Why & How Banjii & Mayuri Are Helping To Change Our World

An Interview With Edward Sylvan


Mayuri: This will go back to many years ago, not just when I started this musical journey. Know your purpose. Define your values and stick to them. Define your overarching message for your life, for your project. Understand who your audience is most likely to connect with your message, values, and purpose and focus on them, ignore the others who will not connect with you, and this is OKAY! Believe in it ALL the way.

Banjii: I’m grateful for all of the guidance from my mentors and collaborators. When the student is ready, the teacher will come.

As a part of our series about music stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Banjii and Mayuri.

Banjii is a multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter from the mountains of Georgia, with four successful albums in his portfolio (published as Jason Kenney). Mayuri is an Indian classical dancer and a business strategy expert with nearly a decade of experience advising Fortune 500 companies. They met during the pandemic in 2019 and naturally allowed their relationship to progress over time, taking shape through their passion for songwriting. They also founded the independent record label and production company Kahani Records. Banjii and Mayuri are taking off quickly in the music industry, receiving a tremendous outpour of support from independent film and music festivals worldwide. In just the first 45 days of “Copper Lines” release, they were given prestigious awards at Tracks Music Award, Jaipur International Film Festival, India, and Hong Kong World. In addition, International Music Video Underground awarded them “The Best Band.” They were also a finalist at Oniros Film New York and Cannes World.

They believe in living their life to their full potential by surpassing stereotypes and expressing themselves freely and fully. They hope to inspire others to do the same. Mayuri shares, “Together we can surpass systems, borders, boundaries, stereotypes, expectations, obligations that are holding us back from reaching our full potential as individuals and as a society. While we know this conceptually, sometimes this is hard to apply practically. We believe in being the example by living the example.”

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Mayuri: I grew up in India in a middle-class family with two parents and a younger sister. I went to a catholic all-girls school even though my parents were Hindu. All my girlfriends were also, well… Girls! So I had very little experience interacting with boys/men until I was 16! I think it really helped build my confidence because I view people as people and not through the lens of gender. We were not rich growing up. For a long time, ALL FOUR of my family members would ride on ONE motorcycle. I learned to drive a car when I came to the US 11 years ago. I was a free spirit doing as I pleased, with very little supervision from my parents since I was very young. It made me very independent and a very good problem solver.

Banjii: I grew up in Dahlonega, Ga, which is at the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. It was mostly still a very small town, with lots of wide-open space and beautiful views. My parents, grandparents, family, and friends were super supportive and loving, for which I will always be grateful.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Mayuri: It was Banjii! I met him at his music school/art gallery in my neighborhood during the pandemic. I first bought art and then we started with music lessons. Which turned into writing songs together! When we wrote our first song, Copper Lines, I knew this was it! It took him a bit longer to realize it! We don’t have much in common on paper, but music cut through all the differences and spoke right to our hearts. “It’s not about what I know but how you made me feel.” That’s a lyric in our song. I realized the power of music that day and knew that I wanted to leverage it as a platform to express myself and be truly heard and seen. More importantly, I wanted to continue using it as a tool to connect with my beloved Banjii.

Banjii: Growing up in the Appalachian mountains, there was always rich bluegrass and old-time music scene. Because that was the music being made at a high level around me, I decided to play the guitar at age 14. The music community really lifted me up and helped me understand the technique of playing music and the beautiful culture of sharing it with others. Around the age of 16, I had become fairly proficient at guitar, and I figured out that I could make more money by playing in the local coffee shops and bars than working at Polo or the car wash. By the time I graduated high school, I was making really good money touring with my friend Corey Smith, so I decided not to go to college for music and instead get my feet wet traveling the country with him, playing sold-out shows all over the country. Once I had my children, I stopped touring, focused on the spiritual and artistic side of myself and music, and opened my music school to sustain my family and give the gift of music to others. I continued recording albums and performing around the Southeast. After teaching heavily for 15 years, Mayuri came into my life, inspiring and facilitating this next chapter. Banjii & Mayuri. Kahani Records. It’s a brand new day, and it’s just the beginning.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Mayuri: For me, it is certainly the story of how Banjii and I met and the “Uncommon Love Story” that followed. In the last year, we have moved through 10 states in the US, lived in 50 AirBnbs, sold my home, closed Banjii’s music school, renovated an RV, recorded and released 3 music videos, started a record label called Kahani Records AND got married!! All this for Love. :)

Banjii: Same, same

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Mayuri: I am going to have to go back to many years ago before I moved to the US. I was participating in a pageant, and it was Q&A time. I picked up the name of the judge and totally butchered the name/greeting. The crowd went through an awkward pause. I recovered by saying, “WOW, that was embarrassing; I hope this gets edited out of the telecast.” The crowd cracked up for 2 minutes! Lesson: Be prepared and don’t take yourself too seriously! All mistakes are opportunities to grow and even turn into wins if you play your cards/jokes right.


a) Once I played a live show in front of a bunch of people, and for the first two or three songs, my guitar wasn’t on because I had accidentally muted it on stage. While I could tell after the first song that I needed to try harder to win them over, I went straight into the next one — same response. I was mortified. It must have sounded horrible in the audience, and I still had another hour to go. The rest of the show went great once my friend came up and told me to turn my guitar on. The lesson, have a good sound guy you can trust, read your audience, and make sure your guitar is on.

b) Kevin Kinney from Drivin’ and Cryin opened up for us during the Corey Smith days at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We should have been opening for him, and everybody in our crew knew this was the vibe in the room during soundcheck. Kevin is the most gracious and down-to-earth guy, and he invited me to play his last song with him, “I’m Going Straight To Hell.”

When I went to rehearse with him in the green room, I was so nervous and excited that I started running up two giant flights of stairs with my guitar in my hand, and BOOOOOM! I fell on the stairs, and my guitar made the loudest and ‘Oh my god, did I just break the only guitar that I need to use tonight?’ noise. My nerves went out of control, and I picked up my guitar finished the second flight of stairs; and Kevin immediately asked me something like, “Is everything alright, buddy? I’m just a dude.”

The show went great, and the lesson I took from it was that it doesn’t serve us to be so nervous and worried about trying to impress the people we meet and work with. Be you. Take your art and your craft seriously, not yourself.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Mayuri: We still have 4 music videos to record and film to complete “Uncommon Love Story.” We are also excited to take our record label Kahani Records, to the next level by working with other artists and providing opportunities to diverse artists.

Banjii: Banjii & Mayuri, Kahani Records, New York City. We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry.

Can you share three reasons with our readers why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Mayuri: What you believe is reality. And media, film, and television play a critical role in influencing people’s thoughts. The way characters are represented on screen is how viewers subconsciously interact with people off-screen. It is important for people to see people of all backgrounds but specifically those from previously marginalized backgrounds, as powerful, successful, and commanding respect for this to filter into their day-to-day lives.

Banjii: Mayuri nailed it

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started,” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

Mayuri: This will go back to many years ago, not just when I started this musical journey. (1) Know your purpose (2) Define your values and stick to them (3) Define your overarching message for your life, for your project (4) Understand who your audience is most likely to connect with your message, values, and purpose and focus on them, ignore the others who will not connect with you, and this is OKAY! (5) Believe in it ALL the way

Banjii: I’m grateful for all of the guidance from my mentors and collaborators. When the student is ready, the teacher will come. I don’t wish to have had any other advice because I’m certain I was given loads of advice years before I knew how to use it. My friend Paul Ford told me the last time I spoke to him, just before he died, “Banjii, remember that experience is something you gain after you need it.”

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Mayuri: The best way for me to combat burnout is TEAM. I work with the best team of individuals. We are on the same page spiritually and in our purpose. We operate on 100% trust. It is amazing how much we can accomplish this way, with very little back and forth, and it is all still very refreshing and exciting!

Banjii: I think we all get burnt out from time to time, especially when focusing so hard on a singular thing or project. There is a tipping point, and when you feel it coming, go take a trip to the river. Listen to what it has to say. Be with your family and friends, and love them up. Be of service to somebody, just because. Take a step back, and when it’s right, jump back in. The work is always there.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Mayuri: We are trying our best to inspire a movement right now! I think the world needs to unite through a common language, and I have discovered that there is no platform better than music to unite the people! The goal of our project, “UnCommon Love Story,” is to promote transformation, healing, and empowerment. Kahani Records is the next step in this direction. The end goal would be to create a wide-reaching community and platform of artists, creators, and writers that have each other’s back, can share in each other’s success, and where free and fair information/discussion is available to all!

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Mayuri: Everything I have accomplished is through someone helping me, taking a chance on me, and believing in me. I have to say this is Jesus for me. For me, Jesus is a real person, and his energy guides me through all my endeavors. I grew up an atheist and discovered the Holy Spirit only a few years ago. I was experiencing prolonged chronic sickness and realized at a hospital in the Mayo Clinic that the sickness was spiritual in nature. I just needed to do a better job of feeling and flowing with the “energy” that I was experiencing! Nothing has been the same since!

Banjii: I can’t say one person because many people have helped me and influenced me. Seth Livengood and I learned to sing together, write songs together, and be in a real band together early on, which changed my life. We made a band about it called HomeGrown Revival. Also, working with such amazing musicians like John Keane, Leah Calvert, Rob Henson, Kinah Boto, David Blackmon, etc. All of my students. My grandparents.

And, of course, Mayuri. She comes with a vision. She sees me in such a way that lifts me up and pushes me forward. Knowing that she has my back and that we are in this together is a freedom that I haven’t felt before.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Mayuri: Don’t Stop Believing! We had made so many crazy moves these past few months, but we kept on going on because we truly believed that all will work out in the end! I have lived my whole life this way…and it always works out in the end. In India, there is a saying, “the movie is still not over, my friend.”

Banjii: There’s too many. This Rumi quote has helped my relationships and in my quest for understanding and forgiveness:

“Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.”

AND the Hawaiian teaching ‘Ho’opnono’ which loosely means, at least the way I learned it:

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!



Edward Sylvan CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group
Authority Magazine

Edward Sylvan is the Founder and CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc. He is committed to telling stories that speak to equity, diversity, and inclusion.