MS Subbulakshmi is a very well known name in the world of Carnatic music. She is the first singer in India to be presented with the Bharat Ratna, the highest award given to any civilian. Born on 16th September, 1916 in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, she was from a family that had a musical background. Her full name was Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi and she was fondly known as MS or MSS. Here are some interesting things to know about this divine singer on her birthday:
1. MS Subbulakshmi was introduced to Carnatic music so early that she released her first album at the mere age of 10. She gave her first public performance at Kumbakonam during Mahamaham festival.
2. Apart from her mother tongue Kannada, she also sang in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi, Sanskrit, Bengali and Gujarati.
3. MS also did her stint as an actress with one of the most memorable films of all-time, Bhakta Meera (1945). She also acted in Sevasadanam, Savitri and Meera (Tamil). Though she attained much acclaim and success in films, but they did not appeal to her after some time. So she quit films and continued to give public performances and concerts.
4. MS Subbulakshmi had performed in London (Royal Albert Hall), New York (Carnegie Hall), Canada, Far East, Moscow, etc. These performances are regarded among her best performances and she was applauded by not just Indians, but foreigners as well. People, who did not even understand the language she was singing in, said that she is a divine manifestation.
5. Her fan list included Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and a lot of other elite people. Mahatma Gandhi commented that he would rather hear Subbulakshmi speak the songs rather than hear someone else sing it.
6. Some of her most famous works include Suprabhatam (Early Morning Hymns), Bhajagovindam (composed by Adi Shankaracharya praising Lord Krishna), Kurai Onrum Illai (composed by Rajagopalachari), Vishnu Sahasranamam (1000 names of Lord Vishnu), Hanuman Chalisa (Prayers to Lord Hanuman), etc.
7. Meeting Sadasivam in 1936, who was a freedom fighter, she got married to him after four years in 1940. Sadasivam already had children from his last marriage and did not have any further children with MS. But she treated his kids like they were her own and showered them with love and affection. She was affectionately called “Amu Paati” by the kids Radha, Viji and Thangam (Sadasivam’s orphaned niece adopted by MS)
8. She was widely honored, praised a lot and awarded with titles like Padma Bhushan, Ramon Magsaysay, Padma Vibhushan and Bharat Ratna.
9. She was honored as a resident artist [Asthana Vidhwan] at the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. Tirupati Urban Development Authority (TUDA) has installed a bronze statue of MS Subbulakshmi at the Poornakumbham circle in the temple town.
10. The great soul passed away on 11th December 2004 in Chennai at the age of 88. However, the rich legacy of music that she gave us will live forever.