Composers and Musicians
Bharatha Rathna M.S. Subbalakshmi, popular called MS, was born in the temple
town of Madurai on September 16th, 1916. Her Grandmother Akkammal was a violinist.
Her father, a lawyer by profession, was a music lover. Her mother was a veena
Her first guru Madurai Srinivasa Iyengar passed away rather too soon. But
she kept practicing on her own and having a musician mother helped a lot.
Her first recording was at the age of ten, when she recorded a couple of songs
for HMV in Madras.
She started giving concerts at a very young age, first accompanying her mother
and then as a solo vocalist. In 1940 she married Sadasivam, a well known figure
in the Madras Congress circle, and a protege of Rajaji. They had met four
years earlier and with his wide connections in the journalistic and political
world, he became instrumental in the continued success of her already flourishing
career. She started acting in Films too, in 1938. Her movies were quite successful
and her final movie "Meera" released both in Hindi and Tamil was
a mega hit. After that she quit movies to concentrate solely on music. Her
rendering of Meera Bhajans are very popular even today.The money from movies
went into the magazine Kalki.
Semmangudi, Musiri, Brinda, composer Papanasam Sivan, 'bhajan' singer Sidheswari
Devi of Banares taught MS new compositions and styles of singing. Kalki magazine
played a big role in projecting M.S. as a saintly musician,that has endured
to this day.
She has got every award a musician in India can get ... from "Isai Vani"
in 1940 to Bharath Rathna in 1998. At 80, one finds her still learning, rehearsing
new pieces with note books balanced on Sruthi box. That perhaps explains her
phenomenal success. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India
commented after listening to her singing “what am I ? A mere Prime Minister”.
He was a great fan of MS and called her the nightingale of India.
MS is considered as the face and voice of the Carnatic tradition. She is perhaps
the most loved respected woman in India. Many admire her for her grace, beauty
and dedication to her chosen field. India wakes up to a new day listening
to her rendering of the Venkitesha Suprabhatam for the last five decades or
so. Lalgudi is also a good vocalist.The most significant contribution of Lalgudi
to Carnatic Music is his Tillanas and Varnams.