Jayalakshmi of the Radha-Jayalakshmi duo, whose timbre and ‘briga’-laden voice stood out in the worlds of Carnatic and film music, died on Monday. She was 82.
The Radha-Jayalakshmi duo came from the G.N. Balasubramaniam (G.N.B.) school of music and were trendsetters in the Carnatic music world after Brinda-Mukta of the Veena Dhanammal school of music.
Like the Alathur Brothers, Radha and Jayalakshmi were cousins. Jayalakshmi had her roots in Srirangam while Radha’s family hails from Chengalpattu. But they were born in Chennai and both of them grew up together in the city. They started giving performances from the age of 14.
T.R. Balasubramaniam, one of the primary disciples of G.N.B., was their teacher.
“But they would often visit G.N.B. and get their lessons corrected by him,” said Jayalakshmi’s sister Champakalakshmi.
After listening to them singing for All India Radio (AIR), recording companies made a beeline to release their songs rendered in a unique style, but immersed deeply in the classical tradition.
A listener of Carnatic music of the bygone era could clearly notice the perceptible difference in the singing style of the duo, in all popular songs.
Jayalakshmi rendered a lot of semi-classical songs in films, for music directors including S.V. Venkatraman, K.V. Mahadevan, S.M. Subbaiah Naidu and Kunnakudi Vaidhyanathan. Her solo song, ‘Manamey Muruganin Mayilvahanam’, and the duet with Radha, ‘Thiruchenduril Porpurinthu’, continue to enthral lovers of semi-classical songs.