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Musician T. Muktha passes away

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T. Muktha
T. Muktha

Meera Srinivasan

CHENNAI: A voice that passed on a rich tradition with great authenticity and bhava will be heard no more. T. Muktha of the well-known Carnatic vocal duo Brinda-Muktha passed away at her Adyar residence here on Sunday morning. She was 92.

The last direct disciple of her grandmother Dhanammal after Brinda's passing away in 1996, Ms. Muktha was one of the torchbearers of the much-revered Dhanammal bani (style), steeped in classicism.

An authority on padams and javalis, Ms. Muktha immensely enjoyed singing robust compositions such as Muthuswamy Dikshitar's Navagraha kritis and pieces like the Manirangu gem Mamava Pattabhi Rama.

A generous teacher, she loved sharing her knowledge with eager learners. Several musicians, including vocalist S. Sowmya, received their advanced training from her. "She enjoyed listening to music and never criticised any performer," said daughter Lakshmi Rathnam.

She was very appreciative of the music of M.S., D.K. Pattammal and several others. She and M.S. shared a special bond.

Ms. Muktha's last full-fledged concert was at Cleveland in 2003, but her performance at M.S.' house after that is what family members deem very special.

Till about six months ago, Ms. Muktha was very alert. She even helped her nephew recall a line that he had forgotten in a composition. Music was all she knew and always believed there was more to learn.

She was a recipient of several prestigious awards including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, the National Artiste Award and the Sangeetha Kala Acharya title.

Ms. Muktha was born in August 1914, to Kamakshi Ammal, fourth daughter of Dhanammal. The sisters received their initial training from their mother and later under Kancheepuram Naayana Pillai. While older sister Brinda learnt directly from the legend, Ms. Muktha learnt by merely observing their classes.

Their aunt later taught them the nuances of the art, with Dhanammal supervising their training.

Though the sisters started performing together, they later gave solo performances. Ms. Muktha moved to Madurai following her daughter's wedding. By then, Brinda had started performing with her daughter Vegavahini.

The first concert of the duo was when Ms. Muktha was barely eight.

"She has told us how they were made to sit on pillows so that the audience could see them," granddaughter and Bharatanatyam dancer Uma Vasudevan recalled.

Ms. Muktha is survived by her daughter Lakshmi Rathnam and grand-daughters.


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