M. S. Subbulakshmi

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M.S.Subbalakshmi called the Nightingale of India

M. S. Subbulakshmi (September 16, 1916December 11, 2004), full name Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi, popularly known by the abbreviation M.S., was a legendary vocal singer of Carnatic music. Her repertoire covered classical and semi-classical songs and included devotional songs and also a short film career. Her fascinating and distinguished career earned many accolades and awards among which the notable ones were the Ramon Magsaysay award and India's highest civilian honor of Bharat Ratna; uniquely she was the first woman to receive both the awards. Her notable musical performances were the Edinburgh International Festival of Music and Drama in 1963, the Carnegie Hall, New York; the UN General Assembly on UN day in 1966, in the Royal Albert Hall, London in 1982 and the Festival of India in Moscow in 1987. A commemorative postage stamp was issued in her honour on 18 December 2005.


  • Indian music is oriented solely to the end of divine communication. If I have done something in this respect entirely due to the grace of the Almighty who has chosen my humble self as a tool.
  • My greatest fear is giving performances. I feel I am responsible for the audience BUT I am also scared of them.

About M.S.[edit]

  • Oh! Who am I; a mere Prime Minister before the queen of song.
    • Once Pandit Jawhar Lal Nehru heard Subbalakshmi when he could not help exclaiming, as quoted here in "Greatness of Spirit: Profiles of Indian Magsaysay Award Winners", page=58.
  • She incandesced as she sang. Her singing voice employed more than the process of phonation, more than the scope of the larynx.
    • Gopal Gandhi in his book of "A Certain Age: Twenty Life Sketches", page=166
  • The singing legend lives on her suprabathams (morning prayer songs) and w:bhajansbhajans.
    • Quoted in Ode to a Nightingale in "The Complete Guide to Functional Writing in English}, pages= 11-12
  • Subbalakshmi was indeed the icon who could bring the world to its knees:her rendering moved Yehudi Menuhin to tears, Bade Gulam Ali Khan called her "Suswaralakshmi Subbulakshmi", while Helen Keller once said “You sing like an angel”. She could captivate the people with an occasional lift of an eyebrow and a beatific smile-meant not for the audience but for the divine.
    • Quoted in Ode to a Nightingale in "The Complete Guide to Functional Writing in English}, pages= 11-12

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