FIRST VISUALLY IMPAIRED WOMAN TO RECEIVE ‘PADMA SHRI”
Many a musician the world did see
Soaking millions with melody and ecstasy
However, rare the ones who shine like a star
Spreading light, standing afar
DR. GAYATRI SANKARAN is a visually challenged prodigy and showed extraordinary talents in music right from her young age. She imbibed musical genius from her mother who was also a talented Karnatic musician.
The melody of this young artist very much impressed Smt. Rukmani Devi and she was admitted in Kalakshetra for further grooming. She came out in flying colors both in Diploma and Post Graduate Diploma Courses in Kalashetra. She learned from “Padma Bhushan” Lalgudi G.Jayaraman and presently under guidance from “Padma Bhushan” Dr. K.J. Jesudas.
She started her music career as a staff artist in All India Radio, Chennai in 1988 and is currently an “TOP” Grade Artist in Karnatic Music, "B" High in Light Music, “B” High in Devotional Music AND “B” in Violin.
At Music Academy, she gave a unique music performance for the dance programme for the Clarke School for Deaf and Dumb School Children where the performing children could not hear her music but follow her lip movement only and she could not see them, but had to follow them by the sound of their footsteps. But the coordination was so good that everyone applauded including the Governor of Tamil Nadu.
Gayatri was interested in learning to play the Violin from very her young age and
She had her initiation from Sri. Pakkala Ramados and started playing Violin as an accompanist for few musicians.
Workshops at the Fine Arts Society, Mumbai, Gayatri conducted a two days workshop focusing on “Ancient Tamil Music, Musicology and Carnatic Music”. She has conducted workshop focusing on “Manodharma Sangeetham” at Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, London.
She has also given a lecture focusing on “Origin of Carnatic Music” at Sruthilaya Academy” Toronto, Canada and Lecture on “Ancient Tamil Music” at Tamil Isai Kala Mandram, Canada.
In 2005 she won the “National Award for Role Model” from Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, New Delhi (Government of India) for outstanding performances as Role Model of Persons With Disabilities, which she received from the then President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
Gayatri has won over 150 prizes in music competitions conducted by various music institutions at both State and National Level. Some of the titles bestowed on her are “Surmani” by the Sur Singer Samsath, Mumbai and “Isai Chudar” by Lioness club of South Chennai and “Special Pallavi Singer” by Krishna Gana Sabha.
She was awarded by the “Best Teacher” award by the Maragatham Chandrasekhar Trust in 2002.
Gayatri has selected as an empanelled artist for Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), New Delhi.
She won the “Gana Kuyil” award from the Canada Hindu Cultural Council, Canada in July 2005 where she gave concerts.
Three times consecutively won the awards from Indian Fine Arts Society, Chennai namely, “Best Vocalist for Raga Alapana” “Best Vocalist for Sahitya rendition” and “Best Vocalist for Nirval.”
Received “Professional Excellence” Award from Rotary Club of Madras.
Indian Government on the Republic day in 2006 conferred on her, the coveted “Padma Shri”.
World Telugu Federation honored me at Vijayawada on 9th January 2009 citation and with purse of Rs. 50,000/-
Received “Padma Sadhana” award from Padma Sarangapani Trust, Chennai in 2010.
Tamil Nadu Disability and “ASCENDAS” selected “ASCENDAS EXCELLENCE AWARD FOR WOMEN” in 2010.
“KALAIMAMANI” Award from Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Nataka Mandram, Chennai in 2011.
“SWARNA TARANGINI’ Award received from Rajiv Gandhi National Instutute of Youth Development (Under Ministry of Youth Affairs & Development, Govt. of India) in 2011
AT HER HOUSE
Apart from the above she is a good cock too! She cooks without help of others. It is very difficult now a day, even for a normal person to cock, but being a visually challenged, she cooks the best.
Leading newspapers and magazines across the country have published rare reviews of this gentle, sweet and talented artist. Many television channels have featured her in talks and interviews.
11 Year old B. Gayatri Gurunathan of Kakinada gave a scintillating music concert at the Tenali Music Academy in the Sri Goverdhana Swamy temple here. Gayatri exhibited knowledge much above her age while rendering neravu in Ramapriya and kritis in Kalyani and Hindolam. She has a rich and sonorous voice” – The Indian express, 1977.
Gayatri’s conventional Karnatic music provided a rich variety of classical traditions under one roof – Indian Express, November, 1986.
“Ambassador of Music – Gayatri Shankar is a precocious child who has won many awards for her proficiency in music” – The Hindu, Guntur
Gayatri Shankar gave a satisfying account of her proficiency in Karnatic Music _ The Hindu, May 2000
Gayatri Sankar may not have light in her life, but she certainly has mucic – Femina, 2001
Artist with difference – an inspiring account of how Gayatri Sankar crossed milestones despite living with a physical handicap – New Woman, 2001.
God’s ways are inscrutable. Otherwise, how can one explain that a melody queen like Gayatri Sankar should have been denied her eyesight cruel indeed – Mr. Subbudu, The Statesman, 2002.
A disciple arrives in her own right. Gayatri Sankar is a rare artiste. Visually Challenged, she continues to search for excellence – The Hindu, New Delhi, 2002.
An excellent performance – Gayatri Sankar has proved her mettle by rising above her handicaps – Excellent vocal recital under the auspices of Shree Shanmughananda Sangeetha Sabha – The Hindu, 2004.
In “The Hindu” December 28, 2007 review said, “Gayatri has a sharp voice – female version of M.K.Tyagaraja Bhavathar’s. Such a voice does take away some bass effect that is so required for Karnatic music, but the artiste makes up for it with her grip over technicals, obviously, an effect of her intensive training under Lalgudi Jayaraman.
In here interview with The Hindu after receiving the award she said “When President Dr. Abdul Kalam asked me to sing two lines from Tyagaraja”s “Entaro Mahaubhavulu” just after he handed over the “National Role Model Award” (instituted by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment) in New Delhi on World Disability Day, in December 2005. I thought it was a culmination of 30 years of public singing.
Therefore, I did not know how to react when I was informed that I was conferred “PADMA SHRI’ says the jubilant Karnatic musician, Gayatri Sankaran”. That marks her humility.
At Rashtrapathi Concert in June 2007 she was requested to sing “Bharat Ratna” M.S. Subbulakshmi songs during a 30 minute performance. The former President was quoted saying in the context of her recital of “Kurai Onrum Illai”, “Tears in my eyes and excellent voice”.
“Powerful communication and naturally high pitched voice enables Gayatri Sankaran traverse even the difficult passage effortlessly” The Hindu, October 10, 2009.
“Accolade for Exceptional Talent” traversing through three octaves in a voice laced with sargams taken with perfect gamakas and swara delieations The Hindu.
The naturally high pitched voice enables Gayatri Sankaran traverse even the difficult passages effortlessly. The Hindu - Friday, Oct 10, 2008
Dr. Gayatri Sankaran, Ph.D., A/G4 Mahaveer Apts, 15, East Coast Road, Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai-41, Tamil Nadu, India, Ph: 91-044-24415043, Telefax: 91-044-24415043, Mobile: 98401-64745, 98404-99879, 98404-77876 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org