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M.S Subbulakshmi was undoubtedly the finest exponent of Carnatic music in India. Read life history and biography of M S Subbalakshmi.


M.S Subbulakshmi

M.S SubbulakshmiM.S Subbulakshmi is a name that is synonymous with the world of Carnatic music. This flawless singer whose voice had a divine power is the first singer in India to be presented with the Bharat Ratna, the highest award given to any civilian. Born on 16th September, 1916 in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, this singer had a family that had a musical background. Her full name was Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi and she was fondly known as M.S or M.S.S. Her mother tongue was Kannada. Read the life history of M S Subbalakshmi in this short biography.

M.S was introduced to Carnatic music at a very early age. She released her first album at the mere age of 10! She received training in classical carnatic music under the famous Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and then learnt Hindustani classical music under Pundit Narayan Rao Vyas. M.S gave her first public performance at Kumbakonam during Mahamaham festival. Then M.S went to the Madras Music Academy and gave a stunning performance at the age of 17. Apart from her mother tongue Kannada, M.S sang in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi, Sanskrit, Bengali, Gujarati, etc.

M.S also did her stint as an actress and one of the most memorable films was Bhakta Meera (1945). The versatile singer sang all famous Meera bhajans in her melodious voice and these bhajans are enjoyed by people even today. Her other films include Sevasadanam, Savitri and Meera (Tamil). She attained much acclaim and success in films, but they did not appeal to her after some time. She quit films and continued to give public performances and concerts.

In the year 1936, she met Sadasivam who was a freedom fighter. They both got married after four years in 1940. Sadasivam already had children from his last marriage and did not have any further children with M.S. She treated his kids like they were her own and showered them with love and affection. She was affectionately called "Amu Paati" by the kids Radha, Viji and Thangam (Sadasivam's orphaned niece adopted by M.S).

M S Subbulakshmi has performed in London (Royal Albert Hall), New York (Carnegie Hall), Canada, Far East, Moscow, etc. These performances are regarded among her best performances. She was applauded by not just Indians, but foreigners as well. People who did not even understand the language she was singing in said that she is a divine manifestation. Her fan list included Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, among other elite people. Mahatma Gandhi commented that he would rather hear Subbulakshmi speak the songs rather than hear someone else sing it.

Some of her most famous works include Suprabhatam (Early Morning Hymns), Bhajagovindam (composed by Adi Shankaracharya praising Lord Krishna), Kurai Onrum Illai (composed by Rajagopalachari), Vishnu Sahasranamam (1000 names of Lord Vishnu), Hanuman Chalisa (Prayers to Lord Hanuman), etc. Any ardent fan of Carnatic classical music is sure to have all these and much more works of M.S Subbulakshmi. Another moving composition is the song Vaishnava Janato that can bring tears to anybody. The way she sang, her devotion, her tone, her pitch, her perfect pronunciation is inimitable and flawless. She has been a recipient of innumerable awards. This great soul passed away on 11th December 2004 in Chennai at the age of 88. The rich legacy of music that she gave us will live forever.