Daughter of acclaimed vocalist Prema Ramamurthy, Jayaprada has been in her own words, “a free performer” and one of a kind as women generally do not, for some inexplicable reason, touch a flute. Even if as she did, some do take up the beautiful instrument, the hurdles are many.
“Classical music will always have a traditional mindset to it and people will still look at you as a woman. There will be instances when a man will be preferred and there will also be instances when things just fall in place and it is easier for a woman flute player to get a concert,” she explains.
The main difficulty, though, is tackling the ego. “One has to tackle ego issues from organisers and co-artistes (male). After a while, you get used to this balance,” points out the recipient of many awards, including the Ugadi Puraskaram, Global World Record and a national award. Awards, according to her, bring excitement as they are a recognition for what you are. “Above all, there is pride in representing something like this. I think more and more women should start exploring more and more horizons,” opines Jayaprada who hails from Hyderabad.
However, playing a flute is not easy. Jayaprada started playing the instrument at the age of 14. Surprising as it may seem, during the initial years, she didn’t receive formal training. “I would just pick up the flute, listen to music and play,” she recalls. A techie by profession, she later decided to take up music full time, inspired by the example of her mother.
A disciple of many maestros including Hari Prasad Chourasia, Sangita Kalanidhi Padmasri, Dr. N Ramani and N S Srinivasan, she gained popularity as a solo flutist in India and abroad in a short span of time. The director of Uttaraa Center for Performing Arts, Jayaprada is also the first flutist among women to use the Base (Long) Flute and the western key-flute for playing Carnatic Music using transposed fingering technique.
The flutist has also composed several “thillanas” and compositions. A music clipping of hers is on display at the Amsterdam Tropical Museum and also adding to her list of credentials is a raaga, Uma. “One day I was trying out one raaga and suddenly this came up. I consulted a lot of experts on it and I got great response and I named it Uma because I like the name,” she explains.