CHENNAI: As a child she was reluctant to learn Carnatic music. But today she is one of the most sought after Carnatic vocalists in Chennai.
Recipient of several awards including the Isai Peroli title, Gayathri Venkataraghavan is all set to perform at the Urur Olcott Kuppam Vizha. “Yes, it is true that I was reluctant to learn music as a child. My parents were keen that I learn. Later I got hooked onto the art form and being a musician is now my identity,” she says.
Gayathri began her journey under gurus like Rajalakshmi, Padma Veeraraghavan, Rukmini Ramani, V Subramaniam and Lakshmi Natarajan. “I started my advanced training under A Sundaresan,” says the first generation musician. “I did not have a musical background and being here now is just exciting.”
Talking about her association with the Urur Olcott Kuppam festival, she says, “This is a great initiative by T M Krishna and Sangeetha. I am very happy to be participating in such a big initiative,” she says.
Residing in Ashok Nagar, a side of the city which was hit during the recent deluge, she said her participation was more of a personal cause. “We had about seven feet of water in our house and I have witnessed the gravity of events that unfolded during the floods. Honouring the real-time heroes who helped people selflessly is brilliant,” she explains.
The festival this year will focus on honouring the fisherfolks and will also focus on taking Carnatic music to different sections of the society. “People who don’t have exposure to quality music will be able to listen to it and understand that there is something out there which can give them solace. I believe people who don’t understand the art take a lot more interest in it after a concert,” says the student of veteran P S Narayanaswamy.
During the Marghazhi season, a lot of musicians had cancelled concerts. But Gayathri and her husband didn’t. “December 2015 was a very different experience for me. But we didn’t cancel any concert after the flood, as we wanted some semblance of normalcy,” explains the recipient of the Madurai Meenakshi Award named after M S Subbulakshmi.
Talking about her idol, she says, “Vijay Shiva and M S amma are my idol. Even if I sing just two per cent of what she did, it would be an achievement for me.” A blogger, Gayathri says that her vision is to take the art to every nook and corner of the society. “Music is for everyone and I want more people to become aware of it. Even if someone cannot understand the technicalities, they can still soak in the music,” she points out.
Gayathri Venkataraghavan will perform in Ayodhya Mandapam, West Mambalam, at 6.30pm on February 20 (Saturday) as part of the Urur Olcott Kuppam festival.