Hail a New Queen of Soul…
The mesmerising star of this concert at the Royal Albert Hall was South Indian singer Aruna Sairam. She is a soul singer up there with Aretha Franklin. I was trying, and failing, to think of a classical singer with the same status and artistry – Jesse Norman, Cecilia Bartoli? I’m afraid not. Aruna Sairam has the universal power to take you to another world… London Evening Standard, 2011
Aruna Sairam was born in Mumbai to a Tamil family. She is a carnatic music vocalist. She learnt music from her mother Rajalakshmi Sethuraman and later form T Brinda who was one of the representatives of the Veenai Dhanammal School of Carnatic music. Aruna has done her Masters in Music. She has even done several international music concerts. She was an expert in the World Music conference in Germany. She is an A-grade artist with the All India Radio.
Aruna Sairam is the darling of Carnatic vocal music and the first ever from her tradition to sing at the BBC Proms…Pulse, Luton, England, 2011
She was born on the 30th of October into a musical family. She performed her first solo at the age of 14. She has also the won the Best Musician Award at Madras Music Academy at the age of 21. She is the Former Vice Chairman of the Sangeet Natak Academy in 2015. She is regarded as the Music Ambassador of India. She promotes Carnatic Music all over the world. She also the received the Padma Shri Award from the government for her achievements in Indian Music. She is also honoured with titles like “Isai Selvam” and “Kalaimamani” in the year 2006 by the government of Tamil Nadu. At a very young age of 8, she won her very first gold medal for a competition at the Shanmukhananda Sabha in Mumbai. She moved to Mumbai at a very young age and continued to reside there for a long period of time.
“M S Subbulakshmi is no more. But if there is any singer who comes close to matching such purity of voice, diction, impeccable sruti alignment and frill-free singing, it is Aruna Sairam” … Outlook Magazine, 2008
By living in Mumbai, having an amazing talent, she had so much exposure of different types of music including film, western and Hindustani music from a very young age. She was also trained under A S Mani, S Ramachandran, K S Narayana Swami, T R Subramanyam, etc. She also received some vocal training from a German voice maestro, Prof Eugene Rabine. She has a very significant role in the South Indian Classical music global. She got a chance to perform in the famous London’s Royal Albert Hall. She was the very first South Indian who got a chance to perform there. She gives several recitals every year during the Madras Music festival held in December. She is frequently travelling, mostly to Europe to give performances in major festivals, teaching, recording, live concerts, etc. She even collaborated with many artists and she always brought richness to every collaboration of her. The success of her collaborations led to her work with Rajika Puri, a dancer who improvises Bharatanatyam based on the movements during her recitals. It gave a visual dimension to the rhythmic and melodic aspects of her music.
She ushered a new way to present in concerts, extending the boundaries of the carnatic range while taking care of the roots of the grammar and traditions of classical music. She has also benefited from some vocal experts like M Balamurali Krishna and David Jones. To add more dimension to her music, she took guidance from late Pallavi Venkataraman and Nagaswara Vidwan who helped her with her research into Mallari. She has performed all over India and abroad. She is best known for her theoretical knowledge and her lectures and demonstrations of her art. She is a veritable ambassador of carnatic music worldwide. She has also partnered with the great film musician Shankar Mahadevan and the popular Mandolin artist U Shrinivas. Aruna’s strong and reverberant voice is what makes her so unique and a rare carnatic vocalist. She is always very appealing to new and enthusiastic listeners.
She was also mentored by the great Veena Dhanammal, who is one of the most outstanding figures of Carnatic music. She is still a source of profound inspiration to all the singers of the present day including South India’s leading musicians. Aruna’s career included a lot of concerts and encounter with great musicians. She is known for her very own unique style. Her voice is a very beautiful blend of resonance and range. It is has a very unusual tone which is what makes it so special. Her musical legacy is rooted in the traditional classicism of her gurus and her openness. Her music has a deep and emotional impact on her listeners. Her music has deservedly made her the favorite of all the pundits and even the public. She occupies a very important place in the world of Carnatic music.
Click the below link to watch videos of Aruna sairam performing.
Aruna Sairam performing at the Darbar festival.
Image sources: Google Images
Video source: YouTube.