Blackswan is one of the most popular K-pop groups in the world. It is the only all-women-led K-pop group that has no Korean members.
It is not unusual for K-pop groups to include foreign members, typically from other Asian countries. Blackpink, which is considered to be K-pop’s biggest girl group, has a member from Thailand.
Making its official debut in 2020, Blackswan is already well known for its foreign members Fatou, the first Senegalese-Belgian K-pop singer, and Brazilian-Japanese Leia. The other members are Young-Heun and Judy, plus Hyeme, who left the group at the end of 2020.
Blackswan also has a member from India. Her name is Shreya. The 18-year-old hails from Odisha’s Rourkela and was selected as the fifth member of the band in May last year.
Shreya, who goes by her stage name Sriya, was selected by a programme organised by DR Music to discover and train budding singers from around the world.
Shreya has been dancing since she was in kindergarten but started training seriously at 12. She studied Odissi, an Indian classical dance that originated in the temples of Odisha, and has been learning freestyle, hip-hop, and contemporary dance to become a versatile dancer.
She also trains her vocal skills with a Hindustani classical teacher and learns Western songs from tutorial videos online.
“I dedicated maximum hours to work on my vocals and expand my vocal range,” she had earlier said in an interview.
As the K-pop genre continues to expand its reach across the world, Blackswan has become part of a growing conversation about the definition of K-pop – and whether they fall within it.
One commenter suggested that they should be defined as K-pop because “they are affiliated with a Korean entertainment company, debuted in South Korea, and sing in Korean”.
Other Koreans, however, do not think the same. “Without [them actually being] Korean, they are just a pop group.”
Blackswan, however, do not seem to pay attention to such comments. They say they identify as a K-pop group and sing in Korean.