MS Subbulakshmi, who was the first musician to receive the Bharat Ratna Award - the highest civilian award, belonged to a family of musicians in Madurai. She started her Carnatic musical training under the guidance of her mother. She later was guided by Pandit Narayan Rao Vyas in Hindustani classical.

Her first recording was released at the age of 10 and she gave her first public performance in Tiruchirapalli temple at the age of 11. She travelled the world as India’s cultural ambassador and sang at some of the most prestigious locations such as the Carnegie Hall in New York and the Royal Albert Hall in London.

She was also the Indian recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay award, Asia’s highest civilian award, among a list of other awards which include: Padma Bhushan in 1954, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1956, Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 1968 (literally, Treasure Chest of Music. She was the first woman recipient of the title), Padma Vibhushan in 1975, Kalidas Samman in 1988 and Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration in 1990.

The musician took her last breath on December 11 2004.


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