Thursday, January 31, 2008

M.S. Subbalakshmi – The Queen of Song

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.

13 comments: said...

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very good thing, to bring out the thoughts to the world. Who knows, this may be very much useful for someone
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Maddy said...

you cant imagine a suprabhatam without the thoughts of MS Subbalakshmi flshing through your mind or jayachandrans suprabhatam song!!

Maddy said...

some trivia-

Mahatma Gandhi was so charmed of her Meera bhajans that he requested her to sing the song Hari Tum haro Jan ki bheer (Lord, please dispel the fear in mankind). A message was sent to Madras to this effect, and a response came from husband Sadasivam that since MSS did not know how to sing this particular bhajan, somebody else could sing "Hari tum haro", and she could sing another bhajan. Reply from the Mahatma: "I prefer to hear it spoken by Subbulakshmi than sung by others."

Abraham Tharakan said...

maddy, Thampuran's 'Suprabhatham' was excellent.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Thank you. I shall certainly look up your site.

VishwaVani said...

I am desparately searching for the video of the epic fims Bhakta Meera (1945). Any leads in purchasing (or atleast downloading) would be greatly appreciated.

Abraham Tharakan said...

vishwavani, sorry, so far I have not been able to trace any lead.

Krishna Vattam said...

I think you have missed to mention MS's special concert in UN Assembly in 1964 when she rendered a sloka specially composed for the occasion by Paramacharya, who.were told,was Requested by Rajaji to compose the Sloka, which has a telling message about world peace.I think Mr Narasimhan was our Ambassador in USA at that time.This rendering in the divine voice of MS had a deep impact on the minds of the UN members.
It is an excerllent piece, Me Abraham Tharakan
Krishna Vattam

Abraham Tharakan said...

Krishna Vattam, thank you for pointing out the omission.

Sathasivam said...

Can any kind person out there help me to get the lyrics of a song from the movie Meera titled "
brindavanathil kannan valarntha antha nalum vanthidatho" sunb by MS Subbulakshmi ammal .

Thank you.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Sathasivam, sorry, I don't have the lyrics, but hope that some reader would come up with it.

MPK Murti said...

Dear Sir,

Please provide the evidence for Wikipedia readers that MS's mother tongue was Kannada.


Abraham Tharakan said...

MPK Murti, in my opinion Wikipedia readers should approach Wikipedia for any clarifications they require.