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Mannargudi, Tamil Nadu, India (1935 – present)

Vidushi Smt. R. Vedavalli (b. 1935) is a vocalist. R. Vedavalli was born in Mannargudi, Tamil Nadu, India to Shri Ramaswami Iyengar and Padmasani Ammal in 1935. Her talent for music was identified early on by Madurai Srirangam Iyengar, who bought the five year old a harmonium, and started her on vocal lessons. The family moved to Madras in a few years time, and Vedavalli came under the tutelage of Mudicondan Venkatarama Iyer. From a very young age, Vedavalli won several awards in prestigious competitions including All India Radio’s first prize for Classical Music and Light Classical Music, awarded by the President of India. In 2000, she received the Sangeetha Kalanidhi, which is considered the highest award in Carnatic music. She is one of the few women to have received this honor.

R Vedavalli received a Central Government scholarship to specialize in Padams and Javalis with T. Muktha, and in Pallavis with Venkataramana Iyer. Hearing her at the age of 18, Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar advised her to turn professional. She has travelled throughout India, North America, South-East Asia, the Far East and the Gulf, giving concerts and lecture demonstrations.

Vedavalli served in the Teacher’s College of Music of the Madras Music Academy for several years before becoming Professor of Vocal Music in the Government College of Music Adyar. She has thus shared her deep knowledge and extensive repertoire with numerous students at these institutions apart from training some privately. Among her disciples today are accomplished performers, resarchers, teachers and writers.

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