Born into a family of musicians with a rich lineage in classical music, Bombay Jayashri Ramnath represents the fourth generation of music practitioners in her family. Blessed with an enviable voice with a rich texture and a hypnotic quality, she strengthened her inborn musicality with rigorous training under her parents Smt Seethalakhsmy Subramaniam and the late Shri N.N. Subramaniam, going on to grooming under Smt T R Balamani and finally, with the music legend Vidwan Shri Lalgudi G Jayaraman. Over the last three decades she has evolved today into becoming the popular most sought after Carnatic musician.
Jayashri’s training involved other performing art forms too; she learnt how to play the veena from Vidwan G. N. Dhandapani Iyer. She has also trained in Hindustani music, under late Pt Mahavir Jaipurwale and Pt Ajay Pohankar. She also learnt Bharatanatyam and was associated with theatre in her early years. This has given her music a multi dimensional exposure, resulting in a rich confluence, and an ability to create music that is unique, yet firmly rooted in her tradition.
Accolades have poured in from India and abroad; among the innumerable titles and awards she has received; in India in 2014 the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, in 2013 the Indira Sivasailam Endowment Medal from the Music Academy Chennai, in 2009 an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa), awarded by Mother Theresa Women’s University, Kodaikkanal, in 2007 the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Playback Singer, the Kalaimamani Virudhu by the Government of Tamil Nadu in the same year.
Worldwide, in 2017 she was awarded the ‘Isai Perarignar’ from the Kamban Kazhakam Australia, in 2017 she was nominated as India’s ambassador for the US based Earthday Network in recognition of her stature amongst Indian classical musicians, North as well as South, as well as her unprecedented popularity as an icon, in 2014 Nadavani by Kamban Vizha, Sri Lanka, in 2013 her song “Pi’s Lullaby” in the movie “Life of Pi”, was nominated for the Best Original Song at the Oscars Academy Awards (2013).
Jayashri Ramnath has performed at the most prestigious venues worldwide including Carnegie Hall, New York (the second Carnatic musician to perform there since Bharat Ratna M. S. Subbulakshmi); she was the first Indian musician ever to perform at the Sydney Opera House, Australia, the Royal Opera House, Durban, and the Russian Opera House, Finland. She has performed in over 35 countries, acting as India’s cultural ambassador, taking Carnatic music to as remote places as Lapland.
A very significant aspect of Jayashri’s life in music is her overwhelming compassion, leading her to interact through music with children in the autism spectrum; she has set up a trust Hitham to channel these activities. She also teaches, along with her students, 300 school children in Manjakudi and Tillaistanam (Tamil Nadu) on a weekly basis since 2014.
Teaching is a significant aspect of her life today, in her words “as I teach, I learn”. Apart from her numerous disciples, she has conducted Lecture Demonstrations on Carnatic music all over the world – right from Ahmedabad University to the Universities of Beijing and Shanghai. She spends a considerable part of her time touring the interiors of India, singing in remote schools, hoping to transmit the magic of music to unexposed children. In her words “my dream is that every child, anywhere in the world gets to hear Live classical music”.
Secure as a musician, she has reveled in collaborating with artists across the world, including Egyptian musician Hisham Abba, Senegalese musician Thione Seck, and Finnish composer Eero Hammeeniemi and Avanti, the Finnish Philharmonic Orchestra. Open to any musical challenge, she recently put together a unique concert, as a musical tribute to Lord Buddha, carefully selecting appropriate compositions that epitomized his teachings, accepted worldwide.
An innovative music composer, she has composed the music for “Silappadhikaaram”, a Bharatnatyam Musical produced by the Cleveland Cultural Alliance, in 2004. In 2014, she composed the music for a Bharatnatyam adaptation of Kalidasa’s “Meghadhootam”, in 2016 she composed the music for Chitra Visvesaran’s Meera the Soul Divine. She has also composed music for actor Revathi’s films “Verukku Neer” and “Kerala Café”. She has also featured in the first full length Carnatic music film ‘Margazhi Ragam’, conceptualized by Director P Jayendra.
An occasional writer with an unusual visual sense, in 2001, Jayashri, along with Sanjay Subrahmanyan and T. M. Krishna wrote the book ‘Prof. Sambamoorthy, the visionary musicologist’, detailing the life and times of the eminent musicologist, to commemorate his birth centenary. In 2007, Jayashri, along with T. M. Krishna and Mythili Chandrasekar, wrote the book ‘Voices Within’, a one-of-a-kind coffee table book that captures the pioneering spirit of 7 of the greatest Carnatic masters of previous generations.
Today Jayashri performs, teaches, composes and writes, and enriches the legacy she has so carefully acquired and enhanced.
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Tribute to my Gurus
T. R. Balamani
Lalgudi G Jayaraman
G. N. Dandapani
Awards & Recognitions
Mylapore Academy, Chennai
R.A. Podar College, Mumbai
Rotary Club of Madras, T-Nagar
Visakha Music Academy, Vishakapatnam
Sathyabama University, Chennai
Sri Sathguru Sangeetha Samajam, Madurai
Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira, Bangalore
Bharat Kalachar, Chennai
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai
Sri Sharada Petha, Sringeri
Kamban Vizha, Sri Lanka
For Pi’s Lullaby, from Life Of Pi
Music Academy, Madras
Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha, Chennai
Bharat Kalachar, Chennai
Title Conferred by the Obul Reddy Foundation, Chennai
Awarded by Mother Theresa Women’s University, Kodaikkanal
South Indian Cultural Association (SICA), Hyderabad
Sri Parthasarathy Sabha, Chennai
Tamilnadu State Film Award
Government of Tamilnadu
Sri Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and Sangeetha Sabha, Bombay
Vishaka Music Academy, Vishakapatnam.
Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai
Temple of Fine Arts, Varanasi
by Rajalakshmi Fine Arts, Coimbatore.
Kalki Krishnamoorthy Trust, Chennai
by Shanmukhananda Sangeetha Sabha, New Delhi.
Shringeri Mutt, Shringeri
Karthik Fine Arts, Chennai
Bharat Kalachar, Chennai.