Young Carnatic vocalists will now have another strong reason to strive for excellence — an award in the name of the ‘queen of song'. ‘The Hindu Saregama M.S. Subbulakshmi Award', was instituted here on Wednesday.

An initiative of The Hindu and Saregama India, and presented by RmKV, the award seeks to recognise merit and promise in a young Carnatic vocalist annually. The former Governor of West Bengal, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who formally launched the award on the eve of the musician's birth anniversary at a function at Sheraton Park Hotel, said the universe of M.S. Subbulakshmi was an embodiment of grace that comes from the absence of malice and competition.

Mr. Gandhi traced the legendary musician's career trajectory, employing interesting metaphors of a star and a bird. A star dims and glows, depending on the play of light's speed with ambient features. A bird moults, shedding one generation of feathers for another one, seasonally, he said.

“Subbulakshmi did both these things. She was, in fact, many things, different things, contrary things, in different climes. Let us acknowledge that. And she did not do so consistently with some linear or progressive logic. She unlearnt as she learnt,” Mr. Gandhi observed.

Many Subbulakshmis

There was therefore an early Subbulakshmi, and a mid-course Subbulakshmi, a Subbulakshmi of the screen, a Subbulakshmi of the sabhas, a Subbulakshmi of fun, frolic and laughter, a Subbulakshmi, sublime, serene and sacred. “Each Subbulakshmi is real, essential.”

In a message to prospective recipients, Mr. Gandhi said: “Recipients of these awards must bear in mind the importance of being oneself, and in fact, of being one's many selves. Something Subbulakshmi, to my lasting regret, could not be because of her being beatified by her admirers. Recipients of these awards will, I trust, resist anything that stereo-types them.”

A jury comprising veteran vocalist R. Vedavalli, art critic Gowri Ramnarayan and musician-composer Rajkumar Bharathi will select the recipient for the year 2010-11, based on young artistes' performances during the year, particularly those during the ‘Marghazhi music season.'

Specially designed

Besides presenting a tambura specially-designed for the honour, Saregama will bring out an album of the awardee and also give the recipient the opportunity to give four concerts in different cities, over a year. It will organise performances on radio and television.

‘Pristine divinity of music'

Nirmala Lakshman, Joint Editor, The Hindu, said the newspaper has been a long-time, proud scribe of M.S. Subbulakshmi's accolades. “She embodies the pristine divinity of music,” she said, adding that The Hindu was delighted to be part of the wonderful effort.

Violin vidwan V.V. Subramaniam, Mridangam vidwan T.K. Murthy and Ghatam vidwan T.H.Vinayakram, who accompanied M.S. for decades, were honoured on the occasion. K.S. Raghunathan of HMV, who had worked with her for 20 years, was also honoured. The occasion also marked the launch of ‘M.S. Subbulakshmi sings to Tirupati Lord Balaji,' a seven-pack music album brought out by Saregama.

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