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Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar


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Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar was born on September 1896 at Chembai, Palakkad. A great grandson of Chakratana Subba Aiyar, who was a contemporary of the musical trinity, and son of Chembai Anantha Bhagavatar, young Vaidyanathan had music ready made for him. Chembai alongwith his brother Shri. Subramaniam learnt music from his father Shri. Anantha Bagavathar. Chembai’s father Shri. Anantha Bhagavathar was a talented vocalist & violinist. The Chembai brothers had their first concert in 1905 at a Temple festival in a town called Ottapalam. One of the landmarks in the early career of the brothers was their concerts at the temple festivals in Vaikom and Guruvayur.

Chembai’s first concert in Madras was in 1918 at the Triplicane Sangeeta Sabha. Chembai’s concert career took a further upswing after this concert and he gave several performances all over thesouth. Chembai’s length of career was 70 years, starting in 1904. Perhaps, the longest of any famous musician of the South.

He could do a neraval and swaraprasthara from any given point, which bespoke of mental alertness from the word ``go’’ in a concert. With his rich vibrant voice and a ringing tone, Chembai’s music had a direct appeal to his listeners.

A few of the honours bestowed on Chembai are ‘Padma Bhushan’ bestowed by the President of India, the Sangeet Natak Akademi award, Gyana Gandharva, Sangeeta Samrat, Sangeetha Kalanidhi, etc.

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