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Three Great Women of Carnatic Music

October 10, 2007

Twentieth Century saw the path breaking events in carnatic music – Till that time women had not indulged themselves to come out and give performances. That changed by the three Great Women who were very modest or rather conservative in their social lives and yet glittering stars in their musical intellect. These wonderful ladies have created a new musical tradition in their own way. The number of disciples each had, would be a very long list. In addition, they have been an inspiration for so many others.

‘Nightingale of carnatic music’ MS Subbu Lakshmi


MS was the eldest of the trio and she is the most famous of them all. She is from Madurai, Tamil Nadu – She inherited Carnatic tradition from her guru Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyengar. She has travelled all over the world – including singing in UN assembly. She personally was so pious and an ardent devotee of Kanchi Maha Swamigal. Needless to say, she has won countless awards including Sangeeta kalanidhi, Bharath Ratna, Magsaysay and so many more. Be it the “Bhaja Govindam” or “Kurai onrum illai” or Meera bhajans – her voice and the music is sole-stirring. Her voice is eternal !

‘Gana Saraswati’ D.K. Pattammal


Pattammal was the first women to sing the “Ragam Thanam Pallavi” – which was considered only men would perform. After her, women-folk have taken up the tradition of singing “Ragam Thanam Pallavi”. She is from Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu – She has inherited Carnatic tradition from Papanasam Sivan himself and Ambi Dikshitar who was from the Muthuswamy Dikshitar family. She also have performed in US and other countries. Her famous songs include “Eppadi padinaro!”, Bharathiyar songs and Dikshitar kritis.

Listen to DKP’s songs:

Sangeeta Kalanidhi Dr. M.L. Vasanta Kumari


She is the youngest of the trio and unlike the others she is from a musical family. Her guru was G.N. Balasubramaniyam. She gave impressive performance in singing ragas. She is the main person in popularising Saint Purandara Dasa kritis. Her Sindhu Bairavi songs are unforgettable – such as “Venkatachala Nilayam” etc. She has got so many awards including Doctorate, Padma Bushan etc.

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