As a prominent vocalist in the carnatic musical tradition, Sudha Ragunathan’s voice enthralls listeners from around the world. Among the first in her generation to receive many prestigious awards including the Padmabhushan and the Sangita Kalanidhi, her mastery over vocal techniques and complicated styles makes her one of the most sought after artists. Her authentic renditions of ‘krithis’ and refined elaborations of ‘raagas’, the élan with which she breezes through the ‘kalpana swaras’, her command over the octaves and her supremely confident stage presence combined with unstated humility has given her an enviable pre-eminence in the world of carnatic music. Sudha has performed a range of concerts and festivals worldwide, and has released over 200 albums with leading recording companies like AVM, INRECO, Vani and Amutham. She is a top ranking artist for Prasar Bharati, All India Radio, and the Doordarshan, and was the auspicious voice at the first live broadcast at the National Program Series of concerts hosted in Chennai. Sudha also has the unique honor of rendering ‘Vande Mataram’ at the Central Hall of Parliament, New Delhi on 27th January 2000 to mark the completion of 50 years of the free Indian Republic.
Sudhaji, your music combines intellectualism with bhava.
Sudha’s foray into the world of music began with her mother, Smt. Choodamani, who initially trained her, and then put her under the tutelage of Vidwan Sri B.V Lakshman. As a child, Sudha participated in several music competitions and was immersed in carnatic music, but she also excelled academically. As an intelligent and talented individual, it is no surprise that Sudha won the ‘Outstanding Student’ award at Ethiraj College (for all the three years during her graduation) while simultaneously increasing her musical repertoire by leaps and bounds. In 1977, Sudha received a scholarship from the Central Government that gave her the opportunity to study under Padmabhushan Sangita Kalanidhi Dr. M.L. Vasanthakumari, known by many as a musical genius and a doyenne of carnatic music. This would mark the beginning of her musical ascendency and her journey to becoming MLV’s vaarisu. During this time, Sudha was given the golden chance to provide vocal support to MLV (as she was affectionately called) for over a decade. When asked about her Guru, Sudha often says, “Music was only one of the few things she taught me. She taught me how to live life to its fullest.” Sudha vividly recalls how while singing with her Guru, a sangathi in Yaman Kalyani would get woven into an Ashtapathi in Ragamalika. Spontaneously, MLV would stop singing and allow Sudha to take over. She fondly remembers her Guru as a generous soul, both onstage and off.
If I speak anything about Sudha, it will be like speaking about myself
-Padmavibhushan Dr. Balamuralikrishna
Sudha’s rise to fame has not been easy. Being a prominently recognized musician requires unwavering focus – something Sudha has mastered. She is a dedicated artist, always striving for excellence. Aside from her success with music, Sudha started the Samudhaaya Foundation in 1999, a charitable organization that has contributed to several causes such as the Kargil Relief Fund, the Orissa Cyclone Victims Fund, the Gujarat Earthquake Victims Relief Fund, pediatric cancer care, pediatric heart surgeries, mentally challenged destitute children, the deaf blind children and towards palliative care. Sudha has also taken carnatic music to corporation schools, remote villages, and prisons. Without the support of her loving husband, and two children, none of Sudha’s accomplishments would be possible.
Sudha is the Sachin of carnatic music.
She is Tamil Nadu’s pride, India’s pride
-Director K Balachander