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Raya singing her way to a different dream with Pride

Former Olympic hopeful Raya is pursuing her passion for music after arthritis cut short her athletic career

Former Olympic hopeful Suzanne Rayappan who is launching a music career under the name Raya

Determination is never more concentrated than when top flight sport is involved.

So if Raya – a former Olympic hopeful – can apply herself to her burgeoning music career in the same way she did to her athletic one, she could be in  business.

Having had her dreams of Olympic and Commonwealth appearances cut short when treatment for an injury uncovered career-ending arthritis, Raya, who hails from Hertfordshire, picked herself up and began concentrating on her other passion, singing and songwriting. She had the chance to sing at major championships during her sporting career, and now Raya – real name Suzanne Rayappan – is focusing on the music full time, and will be performing at Saturday’s Newcastle Pride event in Exhibition Park.

“I can’t wait. This will be my first performance in the North East and I’m so excited to see what you guys have got,” she laughs.

Although she has been writing and singing since she was 18, there’s no doubt that music was well and truly on the back burner in favour of a sport focus. “I always thought that after my badminton had finished I would want to pursue a career in music,” she says. 

“It was just unfortunate that it came a bit sooner than I expected. After my  dream was thwarted right there in 2009, I just I started concentrating on music.”

With a single already available and another, Go Crazy, in the pipeline – it will get its live performance debut on Tyneside at 4pm on Saturday – Raya says she is using the discipline and strategy she learned during her sporting career in her new one.  “From a performance point of view, singing is a lot more enjoyable and more relaxed than  playing a badminton match,” she says, “but with regards to the strategy and the work ethos behind the music, I would say they are very similar.

“I was under no illusions coming into the industry. It has been a learning curve and I’m still learning as I go along, but it’s quite an exciting time for artists with lots of different ways to get yourself out there. It’s tough, but I’m loving it.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer