If you are a lover of reading and of Carnatic music then you will enjoy the book on MS Subbulakshmi by Keshav Desiraju who brings to life many stories from this world. This is one more of the many books that have been written on MS in English, Tamil and other languages. MS was one of the artistes who was in the forefront of the Tamil Isai movement including Tamil and bhakti songs in the Carnatic repertoire.
The Hindu reports: The life and music of M.S. Subbulakshmi continues to capture the interest of several writers. Who she was, where she came from, and what she became forms the canvas of most books. If the journey of M.S.’s life is the journey of her music, the reverse is true as well. Of Gifted Voice: The Life and Art of M.S. Subbulakshmi by Keshav Desiraju (Harper Collins) — the latest book on the musician — tells her story yet again. It is neither the linear narration of Indira Menon nor is it the reinvigorating telling of George, who took advantage of his position as someone who strayed into music.
Keshav Desiraju, a retired civil servant, educated at Harvard and Cambridge, lays out facts that you find in other books on the musician, but his quiet and responsible understanding of these facts builds a meaningful difference, especially in a world filled with noisy debates.
It is all about author perspective and Desiraju does two interesting things: with extensive and meticulous research, he reconstructs the artistic richness of the times in which M.S. lived. The book abounds with hundreds of wonderful stories and anecdotes, some heard, some unheard. Introducing you to all the extraordinary women musicians and dancers who were contemporaries of his protagonist — in Hindustani and Carnatic worlds — Desiraju asks us, even as he explores, what made M.S. special, a national icon?
M.S. Subbulakshmi began her Carnatic classical music training under her mother Shanmukhavadivu; and later in Hindustani classical training under Pandit Narayan Rao Vyas. Subbulakshmi first recording was released when she was 10 years old.
Subbulakshmi gave her first performance at the prestigious Madras Music Academy in 1929, when she was 13 years old . The performance consisted of singing bhajans. The academy was known for its discriminating selection process, and they broke tradition by inviting a young girl as a key performer. Her performance was described as spellbinding and earned her many admirers and the moniker of musical genius from critics. Soon after her debut performances, Subbulakshmi became one of the leading Carnatic vocalists.
By the age of seventeen, Subbulakshmi was giving concerts on her own, including major performances at the Madras Music Academy.
She travelled to London, New York, Canada, the Far East, and other places as India’s cultural ambassador.
In 1969 she was accompanied by Indian Railways Advisor SN Venkata Rao to Rameswaram, where she sang several songs in front of each idol in the Rameswaram temple.
She shared a very cordial relation with Sree Ramaseva Mandali Bengaluru for whom she performed 36 concerts. After the death of her husband Kalki Sadasivam in 1997, she stopped all her public performances.
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