October 22, 2013
From the editor’s desk :-
Dear Konkani music lovers,
Once again a hearty welcome to you for this melodious column of world popular web portal daijiworld.com. I wish to take this opportunity to thank each one of you for your unstinted support and co-operation without which I wouldn’t have been here today.
I am really thrilled to inform you that Florine Roche and I have some great ideas to bring some newness to this unique column by presenting to you some rare jewels of Konkani Music that have faded unnoticed into the history. And I’m sure by God’s grace and with your encouragement we will be able to accomplish this marathon mission that was started a decade ago.
Although Konkani children are scattered around the globe in search of green pastures, it is very encouraging to see that they have not forgotten their roots, their mother-tongue Konkani and its rich tradition and culture. The recent widely celebrated ‘Monthi-fest’ with pomp and glory around the globe is itself a best example of this. All of us have read the wide coverage of the feast on this very same web portal. When we think about our Konkani tradition and culture my music sense hums lovely traditional classical music!
Dear music lovers, in this unique episode I’m going to present to you the super star that is none other than the renowned classical and bhajan singer ‘The Nightigale of Malenad’ - Smt.Vasanthi Shenoy, Udupi’. I’m sure you will really enjoy listening to this sweet classical music.
I am highly indebted to my buddy Florine for her great interview and wonderful text.
See you soon after a short break. Until then, bye!
Yours in Do..Re..Me..Fa..,
Gerry D’Mello Bendur.
The Nightigale of Malenad - Vasanthi Shenoy, Udupi
Being a singer is all about singing and to make a name in it one has to excel, which calls for hard work and some sacrifices. Vasanthi Shenoy, Udupi, born in Teerthahalli taluk of Malnad, now based in Udupi, is one such light songs singer and gamaka artiste who sings in Kannada and Konkani languages with élan and with a purpose. She has made a name for herself as a singer of repute by slogging hard and has undergone lot of sacrifices. Popularly known as the ‘Nightingale of Malnad‘ she has been active in the music field in Karnataka especially in Shimoga in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts, singing in Kannada and Konkani languages, thus establishing her suzerainty in this region.
The flavor of Malenad
Vasanthi Shenoy was born in Teerthahalli Taluk of Shimoga district which provided the right kind of atmosphere for budding singers to nurture their music talent. Vasanthi Shenoy hailed from a family that had the rich the tradition of singing bhajans at home and such a home atmosphere ignited the spark of music in her at a young age. She was greatly inspired by seeing her older sisters singing bhajans but she showed proclivity towards light music. She continued her interest with lot of vigor and it paid rich dividend. Today she is a topnotch light music singer in the state.
She was the last but one among the nine children born to late Sarvotham Shenoy and mother Laxmi Devi Shenoy. Despite the tradition of singing bhajans running in the family Vasanthi could not get much of family support to learn music in a proper way due to financial constraints.
But destiny willed otherwise and Vasanthi got formal training in music at a concessional rate and after completing her SSLC she learnt Carnatic classical music and passed the jurnior grade with flying colours. She also continued learning senior grade but could not answer the examination following the death of her teacher. She also got entry into learning Gamaka (kaavya vachana) and passed out the preliminary grade with a first class. Initially she was trained by great musicians like Ramdas Kini & Padmanabha Bhat and later fine-tuned her learning under Neelkant Rao Shastri. She was also fortunate to be guided by music greats like Garthikere Raganna and Prof Indoodhar Poojar.
Having learnt the rudiments of music she went on exploring opportunities in different parts of the state to exhibit her music talent and Vasanthi Shenoy, the light song singer had arrived on the music scene. She demonstrated her proficiency in light song category when she was selected as All India Radio artiste from AIR Bangalore (before Akashavani Bhadravathi came into existence). Subsequently in AIR Bhadravathi she was selected for devotional and gamaka singing also called Kavya Vachana. Kavya Vachana is a form of storytelling by singing which originated in Karnataka and is popular in Mysore, Sagara, Teerthahalli regions.
Today she is “A” grade Akashavani artiste in sugama sangeetha (light music) B high artiste in Kavya Vachana and B grade artiste in Konkani, which typifies her talent and versatility as a singer. Having established, opportunity came scouting for her and she got offers to sing with great singers like late C Ashwath, Mysore Ananthaswamy, H R Leelavathi, Shimoga Venugopal, Kaveri Sridhar, Seetharama Raju and many others. Even in the company of such versatile and well-known singers Vasanthi Shenoy held on her own with her resonant voice and flair for singing.
She was able to dedicate lot of time for her singing passion and has given performances in different parts of Karnataka and in Chennai, Surat, parts of Kerala and West Bengal. She has also given a public performance in Pondicherry in the National programme of regional and light music organized by All India Radio in the presence of invited audience, which was subsequently broadcast on national hook up of All India Radio.
Having made a mark as a singer with her rich voice and deep commitment with which she pursues her passion, she has been the natural choice of artistes to sing in the CD’s and albums brought out by them. She has rendered her voice to the CD brought out by noted folk singer K Yuvaraj namely ‘Male Mahadeshwara’, ‘Hado Muthina Gini’, ‘Habba Banthu Habba’, ‘banna bannada uyyale’, ‘Koogiri Mahadevana’, ‘dangura’, ‘udugiri laxmiranganatha swamy’, ‘jagadambe ellamma’, ‘elumale maadayya’, ‘ughe ughe madayya’, ‘mathade ellamma’, ‘rasa gange’ etc,. She was a part of the troupe of noted singer Shimoga Venugopal and has sung for albums ‘koosu kandira’ and ‘sharanu venkatramana’. She has also sung in one of the albums in Marathi. During the centenary celebrations of national poet Kuvempu held in Shimoga, she released special CD “Devaru Ruju Madidaru” comprising songs written by Kuvempu. “Bringing out this CD in memory of Kuvempu during his centenary is the greatest achievement of my life. It was a great honour and I am happy I brought out that CD. I am grateful to all those who helped me in this endeavor”, Vasanthi recalls. In 2008 she sang during the world famous Mysore Dasara Utsav programme. She was the music director for some of the plays presented by Nata Mitra sangha of Shimoga.
Vasanthi Shenoy devoted much of her time as she was single till five years ago. Just five years back she married Ramesh Shanbhogue of Udyavar, a bank employee. His support for her passion has been a blessing for her as in the five years since her marriage she brought out four CD’s – 2 comprising Marathi abhangs and 2 devotional CD’s.
Her contributions to her mother tongue Konkani are also noteworthy. Apart from singing for radio she has sung Konkani songs in Doordarshan. She has sung songs of Vasanthi Shenoy, Baba Saheb Borkar, composed by Rafiq Khan. After relocating to Udupi five years ago she has been a regular singer at the ‘Bhajan Sandhya’ and other programmes organized by the Konkani community in Udupi and Mangalore. Vasanthi was the music director for some of the Konkani plays. She has done many special musical features also. She has also rendered her services as a music teacher at Konandoor National Residential School and as a visiting teacher at Sahyadri School, Teerthahalli. She is a regular at the ‘Ankur’ summer camps organized by Vasanthi Nayak in Mangalore.
Despite her popularity and success as a light song and devotional song singer, recognition from government has not been forthcoming for Vasanthi Shenoy. However, other organizations have recognized her talent and passion and have honoured her time and again. She has also been honoured by Rajnan Arts, Bangalore for her contribution to Konkani music.
Vasanthi Shenoy, 54, is happy that she has been recognized as a singer of repute both in Kannada and Konkani languages. She says her singing talent runs in the family as her grandfather Nagappa Shenoy was a Yakshagana Bhagavath. But later the family shifted its focus from Yakshagana to bhajans and the trend continued.
“I am fortunate to have the encouragement of my husband who has been very supportive of my singing career. His support has been crucial and I was able to bring out 4 CD’s in five years since I got married. It is the best thing to happen to me”, she asserts.
Looking back, Vasanthi Shenoy confides that music has given her the fulfillment and the joy. “I am happy as people recognize me as a singer though financially it may not be very lucrative. Nothing can compensate and the support, love and & respect I got from the public”, Vasanthi points out.
Vasanthi wants to continue singing as long as she is able to move freely and spread the fragrance of ‘sugama sangeetha’ throughout the length and breadth of Karnataka and outside.