Carnatic vocalist Vani Sateesh’s excellent tonal quality, soulful renditions and creative exposition of the ragas make for a good listening experience
Vani Sateesh is steeped in the fervour of Carnatic music. One of the striking features of her home is the collection of tanpuras adorning every corner; some of which have seen several generations in the family. They stand as regal testimony to the rich musical heritage bequeath to her and to her passionate endeavour to preserve, nurture and pass it on to the future generations.
Even as an infant, Vani spent hours plucking the strings and intently imbibing the swaras. Her innate musical talent was recognised first by her brother Bellary M. Raghavendra. Her father and uncle, the famous Bellary Brothers, had already established a niche for themselves as vocalists and hence her formal training began under her uncle Bellary M. Sheshagiri Achar. Her father Bellary M.
Venkateshachar and others in the family groomed her into an outstanding vocalist. “I cannot thank enough nor express how grateful I am to my family”, she fondly remembers, “No matter how well I may have sung, if it were not for the encouragement and faith that my family vested in me, I may not have realised my potential as a singer”. Realise she did, and went on to complete her bachelors and masters in Music from Mysore University winning gold medals in both.
It was during her college days that she had one of the greatest challenges as a singer – “One morning I received a call from an organizer, requesting if I could learn five new compositions by evening and perform, since the intended artist could not show up. Without a moment’s hesitation, I replied that I could. I never doubted that I may not have the capability to do it on a short notice. I learnt the compositions and performed that evening.” To young Vani, this incident was a revelation to what could be achieved if one was devoted to the art.
The hallmark of Vani Sateesh as a singer is the exuberance that she creates through her music. Her excellent tonal quality, soulful renditions coupled with lucid diction and creative exposition of the ragas has augmented her art into a spiritual experience not only for herself but for her listeners too. “Music is ‘Naada Yoga’ for me. It is a medium for me to understand, explore and realise myself as well as the divine that is inherent within me. Whether am singing on the stage, or at home; while teaching or practicing, there is no difference in how I feel. While am still far from becoming a ‘Naada Yogi’, I can definitely say that ‘Naada’ is the most important thing in my life. Everything around me speaks to me through Naada.” And to this, Vani has dedicated herself. During the 15 years that she spent in US, she has groomed several young talents in the nuances of Carnatic music and continues to do so in Bangalore. “I truly believe that music cannot be curtailed into the dogmas of rigid structures of teaching. When the student can experience the richness of the joy that this art can provide, they will definitely come forward to learn more and naturally develop an inclination towards music. They may initially need the push or even a competitive bent of mind to pursue music. But fame or wealth cannot become their guiding factors.”
One of the unique aspects of her renditions is her varied choice of compositions and ragas, many seldom heard. “My performance is a platform for me to share the happiness I feel when I sing. I may choose a popular composition or an intricate one, but I would perform them because it gives me immense joy and I want my audience to feel that too!” A passionate teacher, a disciplined student (currently training under Padmabhushan Sri. P.S. Narayana Swamy), a positively joyous personality, a singer par excellence – Vidushi Vani Sateesh is a holistic person. Her husband, violinist Sateesh has been a pillar of support in her musical journey. Vishesha Fine Arts is a manifestation of their dream to forward the cause of Indian music. Started with the support of renowned musicians such as the Mysore Brothers, and Jayshankar from Brigade, Vishesha Fine Arts, has been striving to promote music and musicians from various genres. Vani Sateesh imbues her music with the same sincerity that reflects in her personality. And this has endeared her to the hearts of music lovers.