Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A tribute to the great singer, Neyyattinkara Vasudevan

Photo acknowledgment::

One evening in 1988 I was sitting on the terrace when my wife Annie called me and said, ‘There is someone singing on the TV. He’s even better than (she gave the name of a famous singer)’

I rushed to the TV and learned that the performer was Neyyattinkara Vasudevan. I had not heard that name before obviously because of my limited contact with Carnatic music. But from that day onwards I never missed an opportunity to listen to the divinely gifted singer.

There were a couple of movies with the story line of a singer from a backward community scaling great heights in Carnatic music and the problems he had to face. Perhaps it was Neyyatinkara Vasudevan that the script writers had in mind.

Vasudevan was born in 1940 at Neyyatinkara, Trivandrum District. His father was a daily wage worker, but had an immense love for music which the son inherited. After the boy finished school he was sent to the Swathi Thirunal Music College in Trivandrum. He was fortunate to have a set of eminent teachers headed by the great Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer.

After passing Ganabhushanam and Sangeetha Vidwan, Vasudevan had training under Ramnad Krishnan in Chennai. Then the student became guru. He joined the teaching staff of RLV College of Music in Tripunithura. Many of his disciples are famous musicians today.

Vasudevan was with Akashvani for twenty-five years. He gave many performances in different parts of the world. Several honors were bestowed upon him. These included Padmasree (2004).

But I would consider Neyyattinkara Vasudevan becoming the first non-Brahmin to give a concert at the Navarathri Mandapam in Trivandrum is of special significance.

Neyyattinkara Vasudevan will not sing again. At the age of 68, he passed away yesterday afternoon at Trivandrum. His immortal music will of course live on.


For more details on Neyyattinkara Vasudevan, please see the website of Sreevalsan J. Menon, one of his eminent disciples:

Also see: M.S. Subbalakshni – The Queen of Song

No comments: