Shyam Rao fell in love with drumming when he was 3 years old hearing a gypsy woman on the street playing the kuthu, a catchy rhythm endemic to South India, while her daughter danced to it. By the time he was 4, he could pretty much follow along with any song that he heard. Many an occasion found him playing along with his father’s harmonica recitals. Formally learning drumming wasn’t really an option in India at the time so he did the rounds of piano and guitar until he started playing for his school band at the age of 13 and never looked back!
Shyam joined the Rock cover band Keytones in college which was his first semi-professional act. The late eighties saw him hooking up with guitarist Prasanna and his band Shakuni and the Byrds of Prey, which was a life changing experience allowing Shyam to move on into Jazz Fusion territory and get his ears also attuned to Carnatic music.
After graduating from Anna University, Chennai in Industrial engineering, Shyam got a Masters degree in Business Administration from Texas Tech University. He moved to New York to work for Chase Manhattan Bank following which he worked at Merrill Lynch as Data Warehouse Architect in New Jersey. He later joined JP Morgan Chase in New York and continued with them before returning to India in 2004. While at NY and NJ, Shyam continued to pursue his music by studying saxophone and playing drums for bands like Grenadine, a Blues/Folk band in NY, Stormy Weather band in NJ etc and played at venues in the East village like CBGBs and all over NY/NJ. Shyam also played bass and drums for several Indian film music shows involving such artists as Kavita Krishnamoorthy, Shaan, Malkit Singh etc. Since his return to India, Shyam has been playing with bands like Rainbow Bridge, 7even, Bad Fish, Perfect Strangers, Roxygen and others.
Shyam is a certified scrummaster with over 15 years experience in Data warehousing and business intelligence in the US, Switzerland and India. Back in India, he took up the position of Project Manager with Melstar Technologies managing multiple projects for CitiBank Zurich. Shyam’s exceptional project management skills and ability to deliver solutions in time quickly led him to jump into senior management cadre and he eventually became Vice-President – Delivery at Melstar and continued there until he joined SAM in 2010. Shyam was a student at SAM’s one week workshop in Aug 2009 with Prasanna, Mike Pope, David Gilmore and Rodney Holmes in Chennai. It was a transformational experience that brought Shyam and SAM together and soon he took over as Vice-President of SAM and is keen to bring his positive energy for a fun and noble cause.