Kavya Borra, ’24


Kavya Borra: A golden voice

Kavya Borra, ’24, started classes at Richmond just as her singing career took off on social media (@kavyaborra on TikTok). She kept singing through college. Here’s your chance to say you knew her when.

My first break
I grew up singing Indian classical music, which is part of my Hindu background. It’s very pretty, devotional music. When I was 11, I was selected for a popular South Indian show called Padutha Theeyaga. That was my first big break. I was televised internationally.

It was definitely a shock because I didn’t really know the level of my talent. It was a big deal. After that, I started singing professionally at weddings and events. Because I was getting these opportunities and winning these competitions, I was like, “OK, I think I have something in me.”

My inspiration
I still sing with my grandma. She’s where I got my singing talent from. She used to teach me Bollywood-style songs when I was young. I was always singing around the house with her.

Every time I go home to New Jersey, she’ll say, “Come, let’s sing a song.” She’ll record it and send it to her friends in India. They always love it when we sing duets together. It’s this cute tradition we have. She definitely is a big part of the reason I sing.


bill & kav: nyc edition 😎 β€’ song: Valentine by Laufey

♬ original sound - Kavya

My musical turn
I started singing Western styles when I did musicals in high school. I’d never done theater before. I was like, “Wait, this is a lot of fun.” After that, I started taking private vocal lessons for Western music, singing a lot of opera and other classical stuff. I started posting pop and R&B covers to my Instagram, which had maybe a few hundred followers at the time.

Classical Indian music and Western music are vastly different. The technique involved in Indian classical music is so complex and nuanced. It’s an entirely different notation system, different language, different everything. Even scales are different.

It was definitely interesting getting both backgrounds growing up because Western classical theory is very by-the-books, and Indian classical theory involves a lot of improv within guidelines. I grew up with a very good foundation.

My college choice
I distinctly remember that this was my favorite campus I had ever seen. It felt like my high school, but elevated and more beautiful. It was sunny, like today, and I had a great experience visiting.

I also applied to music schools. Ultimately, my decision was based on financial aid and getting a well-rounded education. I’m on the Presidential Scholarship and have had music scholarships. That department has been great to me.

My academics
I’m a business major with a concentration in marketing, and I have a music minor.

When I came to college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I felt that marketing would be the best for somebody like me who’s essentially marketing myself as a brand. Having the marketing fundamentals makes me understand the back end of the industry more, how influencer deals work, and contracts and things like that.

I see my music career as separate from college, and I like it that way. I can be fully present on campus and fully dedicated and try new things. It is cool that every now and then somebody will come up to me in the dining hall and be like, “Hey, are you that girl from TikTok?” And I’m like, “Yep, that’s me.”

My study abroad
I went to Australia fall semester of my junior year and took business classes and one music class. I got to meet some musicians there. Part of the cool thing about having a platform is that you meet so many people online, and then you can meet them in person. I had known of a couple of musicians in Australia and got the chance to finally meet them in person, which was awesome. They invited me to concerts and jam sessions in these private, small bars — a really cool experience.

By the end of my time there, I was performing at open mics and meeting a lot of musicians. I was getting to know the community, which I was not expecting at all because I was in a completely new place. It was so far from home, but that is the power of having a platform and outreach across the world.

My songwriting
Songwriting for me is really new. I didn’t start until probably sophomore or junior year of college. I really dove into it in my time abroad in Australia because I had so much free time and was on my own. I went to the nearest guitar store and bought the cheapest one they had and started teaching myself how to play. Now I take lessons here.

That’s really when my songwriting journey started. I get ideas as I’m walking to class. I write them down in my notes, and then later in the day, I’ll g sit with my guitar and try and write something.
I think I’m still trying to find my voice. I’m always looking for ways to make a song something I’ve never heard before, which is really hard to do because your ear looks for familiar sounds all the time.

My second love
I’m the captain of the women’s Ultimate Frisbee team here, the Richmond Red Hots. We just qualified for nationals for the second time in our program’s history, and I’m really proud to have had a part in leading my team to that accomplishment.

I never thought I would be a captain of a sports team, ever. Being a captain takes up a lot of my time in the spring, especially. I didn’t even discover it until two girls came up to me and my friend at a party and were like, “Join the Ultimate Frisbee team.” I was like no. Then we ended up going to the first practice and the rest is history.


From frisbee to family, basketball to Berllin, Silicon Valley to Schola Cantorum, Spiders really made the most of their spring break! β€οΈπŸ’™πŸ•·οΈ #urichmond #universityofrichmond #springbreak #springbreak2024

♬ original sound - University of Richmond
As a student, Borra worked as a digital content assistant in University Communications.

It just happened out of nowhere. I quickly developed a love for the sport itself. The people are the biggest draw. The community is so vast and so kind. I also really enjoy learning something new — starting from scratch having no skill and seeing how quickly I can accumulate skills for something I’d never even heard of. I didn’t even know Ultimate Frisbee was a sport before college.

Being a captain of the Frisbee team is a really big part of my life. I get a lot of leadership skills. It’s where I get my whole social life. I’m friends with all of the girls and the guys [on the Spider Monkeys men’s Ultimate team], and we frequently hang out and even play together, which has been great.

I genuinely don’t know what I would be doing with my time here if I wasn’t on the Frisbee team. My afternoons would be so free. What would I be doing?

My postgraduation plans
I plan on diving into my music career. In summer 2023, I recorded some of my originals with some really great producers, and I’ve just been sitting on them all year. My plan is to release those songs after graduation and continue making music and writing songs.