G. Srinivas enjoys singing light music. Through his institute he teaches others to do the same

Ilaiyaraaja’s ‘Ilaiya Nila Pozhigirathey’ plays in the background, and the singer sounds very much like S.P. Balasubrahmanyam. But, it is G. Srinivas of Gurubrahma Light Music Academy. “It’s a great opportunity to sing the songs of legends,” he says. Srinivas has an academy in Saibaba Colony, which he set up in 2003 to offer professional training to anyone who wants to learn light music.

A self-taught singer from the age of five, Srinivas has been singing for 25 years. He has participated in a number of live music shows in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, as well as TV shows on popular channels. He has won awards, and appreciation from legends such as S.P. Balasubrahmanyam and Mano. “When I was 18, I got an opportunity to share the stage with Mano. He asked me to sing one of his popular songs of that time …‘chinna ponnudhaan vekka paduthu’ and applauded my singing. I have also performed with renowned singers such as Jikki, Deepan Chakravarthy, L.R. Eswari, T.S. Raghavendra, Unni Menon and music director Dhina.”

At his institute, he trains singers in Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam film songs, devotional songs, and bhajans. He first conducts a voice test, selects songs that suit those voices, and then trains the singers. “Every voice has an aadhaara shruthi. We identify the acoustics of a student’s voice, gauge his shruthi knowledge, identify his strength, and then teach modulations, expressions, singing style, attitude as well as how to listen and observe a song as a professional singer. But, we also emphasise on originality. They perform at school and college competitions confidently. Music is also meditation, so the added perks are a good grasping power, concentration and breathing exercises,” he smiles

In the last 10 years, over 1000 students from the age of four to 60 have benefitted from the institute. It also includes maamis in the neighbourhood, who learn bhajan singing. Srinivas also composes jingles for advertisements, re-recordings and special sound effects for TV shows, TV channels and short films.

Reality shows have changed the perception towards film music, he says. “Earlier, singing films songs was considered inferior. Now, parents are very encouraging. In one year, we teach them the basics. It’s a stepping stone. Then, they hone their music skills professionally and make a career in music. They get good remuneration in terms of cash awards, reputation, and are easily noticed by film directors and music directors and some of them enter films too,” he adds.

Hogging the limelight

Sibi is one such star student. He got an opportunity to perform on A.R. Rahman’s show ‘Thaai Manney Vanakkam’. Another student Madhumitha made it to the top 15 of Airtel Junior Super Singer, while Keerthana, Abhinaya, Dinesh and Tejaswini sing regularly at live music shows. People from IT companies and corporates also learn from him and when they go abroad they conduct music shows there. “Though anyone can sing, a background in music helps one perform better,” says Srinivas, who is also learning Hindustani now. “We call shruthi as maadha and laya (thaalam or beats) as pidha. A layman goes by the ear and sings. Those who have a base in Carnatic, Western, Classical or Hindustani follow the syntax and perform.”

He says melodies between the 70s and 90s are a big hit among his students. “My objective is to create more opportunities for people who are musically-inclined. Also, a platform for the physically-challenged singers whom we encounter at the traffic signals.”

Tech edge

Technology, he says, is a real boon for newcomers. “Now, you can compose with the help of music software, upload them on YouTube and get immediate feedback. If you have the talent, it kick starts a career in music. Regular practice is the key to excel. I make it a point to do three hours of saadagam even today.” he says.

Srinivas says that living in the same times as legends such as S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, S. Janaki, K.J. Yesudas, Mano and Hariharan is a blessing. He considers them his gurus. “From my idol SPB, I have learnt voice modulation and mic methodology. Most importantly, to bring jeevan into my singing.”

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