MS Subbulakshmi, Carnatic Singer
MS Subbulakshmi, alias Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi or as "MS", as she is fondly known by one and all, in the whole of India, is a carnatic music singer from Tamil Nadu. Subbulakshmi was born in the temple town of Madurai in (September 16, 1916 and her parents were Shanmukhavadivu, a Veena Vidwan and Subramania Iyer, a lawyer.
MS's first recording was released when she was just 10 years old. Her Voice was so sweet and mellifluous that those listening to her became so enthralled and mesmerized with it. Her Mother started off with her being the first guru, teaching her, the basics of carnatic music. Then MS started training under Pandit Narayan Rao Vyas a hindusthani Classical Singer.
By the age of 17, MS had started giving concerts on her own. She was the first lady singer to get a place in the Madras Musical Academy, a prestigious centre, where hither to only male singers used to sing. Mata Sri Ananda mayi on her visit to Madras was invited to stay in the Raj Bhavan by the then Governor of Tamilnadu , Mother refused saying that she wanted to stay at MS 's house and that MS was "Meera" to her. By then MS had performed many devotional songs in different languages like Tamil, Kannada, Sanskrit, Panjabi, Hindi, Malayalam,Telugu , Bengali, Gujarati and Marathi.
MS and the Movies
She also tried out movies as she was pretty and gentle in her ways. Her role as Meera in the film Meera gave her National prominence and acceptance. She had sung many Meera Bhajans not only for the movie but also as Meera Bhajans. Her concerts at Carnegie Hall, New York; the UN General Assembly on UN day in 1966; the Royal Albert Hall, London in 1982; and at the Festival of India in Moscow in 1987 were significant landmarks in her career and she became known all over the world for the wonderful person she was. She stopped giving performances after her husband Sadasivam passed away in 1997. She too followed him 7 years later on 11 December , 2004
Laurels that came in MS's life
MS has had almost all the singers and vocalists praising at one time or the other.
MS Subbulakshimi was called a Queen of Music by Jawaharlal Nehru, Tapaswini by Latha Mangeshkar, Suswaralakshmi by Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.
Ms's Bhajans included Bhaja Govindam, Vishnu Sahasranama, Venkatesa Suprabhatam and many more.
Awards and Other Royalties
She had been widely honoured, praised and awarded. Some of the popular ones are Padma Bhushan in 1954, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1956,Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 1968, Ramon Magsaysay award in 1974, Padma Vibhushan in 1975, Kalidas Samman in 1988, Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration in 1990 and the Bharat Ratna in 1998 She was also honored as the court-singer of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams.
She was an ardent devotee of Kanchi Mahaswamigal and had rendered his composition Maithreem Bhajatha in her concert at the UN in 1966. She also donated many of the enormous prize moneys she had received and royalties on several best sold records to many charity organizations.
Queen of Indian Music
With her rock-solid technique, sure tone, deep spirituality and a splendid emotional expression, Carnatic vocalist MS was rightfully considered the Queen of Indian Music and a Indian national treasure. Even if she is not with us any more her music stays with us, thanks to a legion of great recordings, her music will always be there with us. Her place among the great vocalists of the 20th century is assured and will be honoured more and more in the days to come.