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An ode to M S Subbulakshmi, the nightingale


New Delhi, Sep 18 As a child, 'Kunjamma', as M S Subbulakshmi was fondly called, learnt to play veena from her mother and sang in the temples of Madurai but little did she know that one day she would be known as 'the Queen of Carnatic music'.

M S Subbulakshmi

In her book, "Kunjamma-Ode to a Nightingale", renowned Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer, Lakshmi Vishwanathan captures some of the interesting moments from Subbulakshmi's glorious life to celebrate her birth centenary on September 16.

Vishwanathan, who knew the singer closely, says Subbulakshmi's mastery of classical ragas combined with her unforgettable screen performances made her a rare genius.

"I believe when she sang the angels in heaven seemed to dance, for such was her melodious voice," says the author while comparing Subbulakshmi to iconic opera singer, Maria Callas.

The 130-page book, published by Roli Books, speaks volumes of Subbulakshmi's journey from a little girl who loved singing to the heights of musical glory.

"Although she felt she was interpreting music, her audience felt she was creating it. Herein lay her genius. Many great artists had left their imprint on various songs.

"Subbulakshmi's uniqueness, however, lay in making the audience remember only the way in which she sang these songs," writes the author in her book. Subbulakshmi wanted to make a name of her own in music since her childhood. She practiced everyday for long hours, strictly abiding by the rules of Carnatic music. "... she began singing at temples and marriages but her recitals were so impressive that her reputation began to grow.

The Gramophone Company of India invited her regularly to Madras to record albums," says the artist.

The singer's recording of Tyagaraja's song 'Evarimata' in Raga 'Kambodhi' became a hit with record sales and earned her the title Evarimata M S Subbulakshmi.


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