THE SINGING LEGEND – M. S. SUBBULAKSHMI
Music is a piece of art that goes into ears straight into the heart.
If you have been living in India and have an interest in music, you would have definitely heard about M. S. Subbulakshmi; her name would sound nothing but familiar and majestic to you. Her contribution to the field of Classical music has been immense that her name has almost become synonymous with Carnatic music. If the air we breathe is our life, then music was the life to M. S. Subbulakshmi for she dedicated her whole self in the world of Carnatic music.
Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi was born on the 16th of September, in the year 1916, in a small town called Kunjamma, in the city of temples, Madurai, Tamil Nadu. It is right to say that her musical talent was inborn with her for she was born in a family of musical exponents. Her grandmother was a talented Violin player while her mother was an exponential Veena artist. This ancestral musical leaning and talent should have passed on to Subbulakshmi for her interest in music started even as a child.
Subbulakshmi was indeed a blessed student of Carnatic music for she was given the privilege of being trained by the famous and talented Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. She also studied the Hindustani Classical music under the tutelage of Pandit Narayan Rao Vyas. She stood as a perfect example for a child prodigy. She was no less than ten years old when her first ever musical recording was released. Her talent gained more fame and she started to perform in musical concerts. When she was about eleven years old, she performed her first public musical concert in the famous Ucchi Pillayar Temple at Rockfort in Trichy. One led to another and she started to perform in many musical concerts. When she was about 13 years old, she was the given the privilege to perform in the prestigious Madras Music Academy and earned herself a reputed title among the musical critics as the “Musical Genius”. When was about 16 years old, she performed in a musical concert at Kumbakonam during the festival of Mahamaham. She did not only sing in her mother tongue Kannada, but also in many other languages like Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi, Sanskrit, Bengali, and Gujarati.
Subbulakshmi not only proved her talent as an exponential musician, but also as a versatile actor. One of her most memorable and ever green movie is Bhakta Meera, released in the year 1945. This versatile singer sang the famous Meera Bhajans in her mesmerizing voice and these Bhajans are still loved and listened to, by the Carnatic music lovers even today. Few other famous movies in which Subbulakshmi featured are Sevasadanam, Savitri and Meera (Tamil). Though most of all her movies attained her much acclaim, fame and success in films, they did not appeal to her along the passage of time. As the film industry did not please her, she quit her profession as an actor. Later, she again started to perform in public musical concerts.
It was in the year 1936, her love life started. During this period, she the met the love of her life, Sadasivam. He was a patriotic freedom fighter. After a period of four years, the couple got married together in the year 1940. Subbulakshmi was Sadasivam’s second wife. He had already fathered children from his previous marriage and hence, did not father any more children with Subbulakshmi. Though the children were not her own, Subbulakshmi treated them like her own. She nurtured them with love and affection and took great care of them. She was loved so much that the kids (Radha and Viji) and (Thangam- an orphaned niece of Sadasivam adopted Subbulakshmi), lovingly called her Amu Paati. Sadasivam was not only a loving husband, but also a tutor. He helped Subbulakshmi to excel in her musical career.
Subbulakshmi is not only famous in India as a singer, but also known as an exponential Carnatic singer overseas. Her fame in Carnatic music gave her opportunities to perform abroad. She held the privilege of having been given an opportunity to perform in the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Carnegie hall in New York, America. She also performed in many other countries like Canada, Moscow etcetera. These performances are considered to be among few of her best performances. She did not only sway the Indians with her musical talents, but also attracted the foreign audience as well. Through her divine and artistic talents in music, she drew the attention of the foreign audience even though they did not the language in which she was singing. Such amazing were her talents in the field of Carnatic music.
Subbulakshmi’s contributions to the field of Carnatic music were so enormous that they knew no bounds. The Indian government has honoured her with many honorary awards for her contribution. The Padma Bhushan, the Ravindra Bharathi Cultural Academy Award, the Sangeetha Kalanidhi Award, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Padma Vibhushan Award are few of her many honorary awards.
This singing nightingale of India continues to mesmerize and inspire people through her artistic atlents in Carnatic music.