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This article was first published 10 years ago

M. S. Subbulakshmi commemorated with a doodle

Last updated on: September 16, 2013 12:54 IST

Image: MS Subbulakshmi has been commemorated with a doodle on her 97th birth anniversary.

Google celebrates the 97th birth anniversary of the legendary Carnatic singer.

A figure of Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi holding a tanpura and accompanied by a tabla, mridangam and ghatam forms the doodle on today's Google homepage.

The legendary Carnatic singer would have turned 97 years had she been alive today.

MS, as she was popularly known, was the first Indian musician to receive the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour as well as the first Indian musician to receive the Ramon Magsaysay award.

Born in Madurai to veena player Shanmukavadiver Ammal and Subramania Iyer, MS Subbulakshmi's grandmother Akkammal was a violinist. Subbulakshmi started learning Carnatic music under the tutelage of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer quite early on in her life.

Eventually, she would also learn Hindustani classical music under Pandit Narayanrao Vyas.

MS Subbulakshmi's first public performance was when she was all of 13 at the Madras Music Academy, which had broken tradition by inviting a young girl to perform at the academy. She wowed the audiences and was immediately touted as a musical genius.

It didn't take long for MS Subbulakshmi to rise through the ranks of the Carnatic music circles.

By 1936, MS Subbulakshmi had moved to Chennai and even made her film debut in the 1938 film Sevasadan and went on to act in a few more before quitting movies entirely to dedicate her life to music.

In the interim, Subbulakshmi even played a male role -- that of the sage Narada -- in the 1941 movie Savitri so she could help raise money to launch her husband Kalki Sadasivam's Tamil weekly.

MS Subbulakshmi would then travel the world representing India and performing at Edinburgh International Festival of Music and Drama in 1963, Carnegie Hall, New York for the UN General Assembly on UN day in 1966, the Royal Albert Hall, London in 1982, Festival of India in Moscow in 1987 among other prestigious festivals.

Subbulakshmi has been called by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru the Queen of Music and Tapaswini (the Renunciate) by Lata Mangeshkar.

Sarojini Naidu called her Nightingale of India but it was Kishori Amonkar who referred to her as the Aathuvaan Sur or the eighth note in music, above all the seven.

MS Subbulakshmi's most popular recordings include the chantings of the Venkateswara Suprabhatam, the Vishnu Sahasranama and Bhaja Govindam among others that continue to be played in several homes even to this day.

After her husband's passing away in 1997, she ceased giving public performances. On December 11, 2004 MS Subbulakshmi passed away of broncho pneumonia and cardiac irregularities in Chennai, aged 88.