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Pattammal passes away

Last updated: 16 July, 2009
Chennai, PTI: 1:31 IST

D K Pattammal, who broke the barriers to enter men-dominated Carnatic music world and enthralled classical music lovers with her captivating voice for over six decades, died on Thursday after prolonged illness.

Famous carnatic vocalist M Balamuralikrishna paying tributes to D K Pattammal who died at Chennai on Thursday. PTI Pattammal, 90, died of old age ailments at her residence, family sources said. She is survived by two sons.

Fondly known as Patta, she strode like a colossus in the Carnatic music scene along with her contemporaries late M S Subbulakshmi and M L Vasanthakumari, who came to be known as the Carnatic "female trinity".


Her rendition of some of the best "keerthanas" of saint composer Muthuswamy Deekshithar as well as patriotic and revolutionary songs of national poet Subramnaya Bharathi was considered unparalleled.

Born into a conservative Brahmin family in 1919 in nearby Kancheepuram, Pattammal was inspired by her father Damal Krishnaswamy, an ardent music lover, to learn Carnatic music.

She got her formal training from her mother Kanthimathy, a talented singer who was not allowed to perform at concerts as it was considered a taboo by the Brahmins then.

But once she gave her maiden performance over the Madras Corporation Radio (now AIR) at the tender age of ten and her first public concert at the Madras Rasika Ranjani Sabha in 1932, there was no looking back for Pattammal.

In 1933, Pattammal moved to Chennai and began giving regular concerts. Six years later, she married R Iswaran.

Considered an authority in compositions of Muthuswamy Deekshithar, Pattammal also popularised lyrics of Papanasam Sivan, who introduced her in films.

However, she declined offers to sing romantic songs and rather preferred devotional and patriotic songs.

She first sang in "Thyagabhoomi", a film banned by the British rule for its patriotic content, and then in "Naam Irruvar".

Among her big hits was "Aduvome pallu paduvome", a utopian creation of Bharathi celebrating a free India, in Naam Iruvar. She went on to popularise several patriotic compositions of the revolutionary Tamil poet.

Pattammal, whose grand daughter Nithyashree Mahadevan is also a popular vocalist, was the recipient of various honours including the Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, Gana Saraswathi and Sangeetha Kalanidhi by the Centre and various states.

She was elected Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1992.

Pattammal last sung for a film in Kamalhassan-directed "Hey Ram", rendering "Vaishnava Jayato", a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi.

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