M.S. Subbulakshmi (1916-2004)

- October 28, 2020


By Samyukhtha Sunil  Illustration: Rakesh C.S. Imagine a voice so divine that it captures the heart of the Mahatma himself. Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi, fondly known as MS, was a talent whose compositions could make every Indian swoon with devotion. In the 88 years that she lived, MS Subbulakshmi proved time and again that she was not just a melodious voice, but also a pioneer and pathbreaker for women everywhere, breaking down countless barriers of a patriarchal society and paving the way for India to evolve from its orthodox ways of thinking.  BORN INTO A PERFORMER FAMILY Born in Madurai on September 16th, 1916, and known as Kunjamma to her family, MS was born into a family belonging to the ‘Devadasi’ community. The Devadasis came from a lineage of performers who were highly skilled in music, dance and theatre. With her grandmother being a renowned violinist and her mother being an impeccable vocalist in her own right, it was only natural that this musical gene was passed on to MS right when she was born.  CONQUERED THE STAGE YOUNG Growing up in an environment where the stage became your second home, MS naturally took the spotlight and never failed to charm her audience. Having trained under Carnatic legend, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, she gave her very first public performance when she was just eleven years old at the Rockfort Temple in Trichy. Her major break in the performance industry happened in 1965, when she was invited to perform at the prestigious Madras Music Academy. That was just the start of her climb on the ladder of success! By the time she was 17, she had already notched up several stellar performances across the state and many more at the music...

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