Music moves earthlings and the gods. It reaches the pinnacle when there is a combination of talent, learning and commitment.
Technical perfection alone can sometimes be boring. But when knowledge of music is combined with the personality of a singer like MS Subbalakshmi (popularly known as ‘MS’), lyrics take wings, compositions become sublime and listeners are carried to ecstasy.
Here the word ‘personality’ is used in its wider meaning. It involves devotion, voice, clarity of pronunciation, capacity to carry pitches which lesser mortals falter at, application, and beauty. MS had all these and more.
There was hard work as well. Born in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, on September 16, 1916, MS grew up near the Meenakshi Temple to the sound of music. By the time she finished the basics, her guru, Madurai Srinivasa Iyengar passed away, but the sad event did not deter her. She went on to learn, under different teachers, Hindustani classical, Rabindra Sangeeth, bhajans and other areas of music.
Since the time she cut her first record at the age of ten, MS did not look back. Hers was a life devoted to music, except for a short stint in cinema that she combined with her singing. Her ‘Meera’, released in Tamil and Hindi, was a runaway success.
MS gave concerts before distinguished audiences in different parts of the world. She sang not only in Kannada which was her mother tongue but also in Tamil, Telungu, Malayalam, Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali and Sanskrit. She was bestowed with many honors. These included Bharat Ratna. MS was the first musician to receive that distinction. Pandit Nehru is reported to have said about her “Who am I, a mere prime minister, before the Queen of Song?”
MS Subbalakshmi, the nightingale, died at the age of 88. For downloading her songs, visit Downloads of M.S.Subbalakshmi's songs
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
Also see: Dances for the gods.