Eminent Carnatic musician and playback singer Dr. Nithyasree Mahadevan
Eminent Carnatic musician and playback singer Dr. Nithyasree Mahadevan recently performed in Denver at a concert organized by Colorado Fine Arts Association (CFAA), on April 15th, 2012 at Broomfield Auditorium. Dr Nithyasree was accompanied by Mr. Patri Satish Kumar on Mridangam, and Mr. BV Raghavendra Rao on Violin.
Dr Nithyasree Mahadevan hails from a family with a rich musical heritage. She is the granddaughter of Dr. DK Pattammal, a prominent carnatic stalwart. She has performed in all major sabhas in India and has presented her concerts in many destinations around the world. She has received multiple awards and honors, and has released more than 100 commercial albums.
She is an All India Radio Prize Winner (1990) and has been a grade ‘A’ artist since, always astonishing us. Her awards include "Yuva Kala Bharathi" (1994), "Innisai Maamani", "Kalaimamani" (2000), "Isai Paeroli" (2001), "Padma Sadhana" (2004), and "Naada Kovida" (2006). She has received "Best Concert Award" from The Music Academy during the music festivals many times and has also performed for the "Sangeeth Natak Academy" twice during their International Music Festivals in Bombay and Hyderabad. She has also received the "Best Promising Artiste" from "Mohanam" Music Club, and made a thematic album of compositions popularizing the raga Mohanam. She was awarded a doctorate degree from Sathyabama University of Jeppiar, Chennai in 2007. She became more popular because of her Ragam Thanam Pallavi, a form of singing that allows the singer to express her talents to a greater extent.
DesiShades got some time to chat with these distinguished artists for its readers.
DesiShades: Namaste Madam, We are so fortunate to have you here with us. How did you feel about Denver concert?
Nithyasree Mahadevan: One of my more memorable concerts. Very nice concert and the response from the audience was just awesome. The rapport with the audience was so elevating that I did not feel like ending the concert. Hats off to Colorado!
DS: How did the music take center-stage in your life?
NM: My interest in music definitely came from my family. I can't say there was one point when I became aware of learning or appreciating music. I used to learn by listening and visitors would encourage me to sing. They would pamper me and praise my voice. All this was just fun for me. When I was seven or eight years old, my mother sat me down and talked to me. She said that if I wanted to reach the stage that my grandparents had reached, it would take a lifetime of dedication. It would mean giving up sleep and leisure time and pursuing music. That talk had a deep impact on me. I started learning art for art's sake.
DS: Can you share some memorable moments with your grandmother?
NM: If I start talking about my grandmother Gana Saraswati, Sangeeta Kalanidhi Smt DK Pattammal, my whole life time is not enough. If you ask me what is the greatest moment happened to me, I would say to born as her granddaughter. My great fortune in my life is to be close to such a legend, not only as a musician, but also as a person and as a human being. Her simplicity, so down to earth, commitment to art, how revolutionary she was, though she was very orthodox, wearing Kancheepuram silk saree with a kumkum... Memorable moments, there were so many! Something that comes to my mind immediately is - In mid 80's, I was in a kucheri with Tambura, with my grandma singing who was in her 70's. She started off with a Tamil Vrittam, a very philosophical meaning, telling “Oh God, I could have born as grass, so the animals can eat, I could have born as a herb, the doctors would use it as medicine, at least as a piece of stone, so the real nice people would step on me, or at least as a donkey, so when it cries the people consider as good omen, why did you give me this janma (birth), how many more janma’s do I have to take!” this is the meaning. As she started singing the verse '...ellanilaamane, ippuravi tandinnai endavittagalanindra...’ she started crying uncontrollably. I was also immersed in the music, and I was also crying, Looked at the violinist Smt T Rukmini, she was also crying. Entire hall, having about 1500 people, was crying... they were not in this world, immersed into it. I can't explain the feeling, the hall was filled with the vibration, divinity, very tranquilized, all caused by my grandmother’s song. She generally goes into the song. She kindled the spirit of love for the country by singing well-known patriotic songs such as “Aduvome Pallu Paduvome.” There are too many golden moments I had with her that there is no limit to how many there are.
DS: Who did you work with, and who do you like the most, apart from your grandmother?
NM: Though I come from a family is all filled with great musicians. My paternal grandmother Smt.DK Pattammal, paternal granduncle Sri DK Jayaraman, maternal grandfather great mridangam artist, the one and only Palghat Mani Iyer... This is the centenary year of my grandfather. Still all musicians are respected in our house. My father used to play the music of Alathur brothers, Madurai Mani Iyer, MS Amma, and KV Narayan Swamy Sir. Appa and Amma use to see the greatness in every musician. My grandmother used to admire the greatness of all musicians, very openly accepting. Each one has a specialty.
DS: What is your take on singing for movies? A number of carnatic music singers are purists and they don’t even entertain the thought of singing for movies.
NM: I am happy about singing for movies. One thing you must understand is that it is very difficult to shift genres easily. So, I prefer to sing only a few selected ranges. Also it is difficult to groom your career in both. In one you are a specialist, in another you are generalist. The expectations are different. So, once in a while you can switch gears, but it is difficult to maintain both the careers. The way I see it is, I am a specialist carnatic singer who wouldn’t mind singing a few selected pieces for general audience whenever it falls in my range.
DS: Thank you very much Madam, for spending few minutes for us. We wish to see you again in future concerts.
NM: My best wishes to Colorado Fine Arts Association. This organization should grow more and more, with more audience, conduct lovely concerts in the coming years.
DesiShades thanks Colorado Fine Arts Association for getting us the opportunity to spend few minutes with the guest artist.
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