Born on September 16th, 1916, Madhurai Shanmugavadivu Subbulakshmi (‘MS’ to all her fans) was introduced to music through her mother Shanmukhavadivu’s rehearsals on the Veena (A stringed musical instrument that is plucked).
Her first guru for vocal music training was Madurai Srinivasa Iyengar. She cut her first 78 rpm disc at ten. She also trained under Musiri Subramanya Iyer and Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer.
At 17, she broke the myth, that women could not be considered serious musicians, with her performance at the Music Academy, Chennai. With her marriage to T Sadasivam in 1940, her career received that all-important direction. Sadasivam is credited with taking the genius of MS, to the world, with phenomenal results.
From 1938 to 1945 MS starred in four unforgettable films – Sevasadanam, Sakunthalai, Savithri and Meera.
MS has played the role of Carnatic Music ambassador to the world through her several concerts (notable among them being that at the Edinburgh festival, the United Nations and at Carnegie Hall).
Besides the Bharat Ratna, MS has also received the Padma Bhushan, the Magsaysay award, the Padma Vibhushan, the Spirit of Freedom award and the Indira award for National Integration. Her Concerts and Recordings have raised over three crore rupees for charity.
In the spiritual content of her art and the radiance of her personality, MS Subbulakshmi will always stand apart.