I was not planning write anything this month. It has not been all that good a time for me. And to be honest, I could not find the time to write either.
But it truly seemed blasphemous if I did not write about the queen. Especially as yesterday was her birthday.
I consider myself honored to have lived in the same time as the musical lady trinities. And even more honored to have enjoyed a few live concerts, if not in person, at least through TV, when they were still with us.
M S Subbulakshmi (Popularly know as MS) was born on 16 September 1916 into a musical family, and went on to capture hearts world over with her mellifluous voice. She was the first Indian to win the Ramon Magsaysay Award and the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said about her "Who am I , a mere Prime Minister before a Queen, a Queen of Music ". Her true Bakthi to her music showed through every line she sang and in the glow on her face as she did.
When MS was in US as a guest at someone’s house, she was coerced into singing. There was construction going on outside the house and when requested that they tone down the noise as MS was beginning to sing, the construction workers started making more noise. Ignoring them MS started singing, and slowly all the noise outside the house stopped and when she finished singing, the construction workers trooped in to apologise and tell her that though they did not understand what she was singing, it was great and would she sing some more.
There was that magic quality in her voice which had the power to pull at the listeners’ heart strings. Her voice was the true definition of Alchemy, it could turn base metal into gold.
My personal favorite of MS is her rendition of “Kurai ondrum illai”. A day that begins without hearing her sing the Venkateswara Suprabatham is no day at all. Some of my other favorite works include the Vishnu Sahasaranamam, Maithreem Bajatha and Bhaja Govindam
Almost six years after her death MS still lives on in most south Indian houses talking to God directly through her music.
PS: Edited to add link to "Kurai Ondrum Illai"