A soulful connect

Renuka Arun's music is characterised shruthi-shuddham, rhythmic perfection, and is rich in bhaava and a meditative quality which make her renditions so soulful, writes Aruna Chandaraju

Vocalist Renuka Arun

Here is one Carnatic musician who impresses as much with the sonorous, pitch-perfect nature of her music as with her versatility. With around 700 Carnatic music kutcheries and nearly 30 fusion concerts across India and abroad, several well-received videos in tribute to Western pop music stars like Adele and Michael Jackson; and two chartbusters in cinema music to her credit, 38-year-old Renuka Arun is winning music-lovers’ hearts across genres and states.

Meditative

Her music is characterised shruthi-shuddham, rhythmic perfection, and is rich in bhaava and a meditative quality which make her renditions so soulful. They have earned her the appreciation of critics and connoissuers alike.

Kochi-based Renuka began music lessons when she was four from a few teachers till she came under the tutelage of well-known music-guru Chandramana Narayanan Namboodiri. Much later, as an adult, she studied music under Seetha Narayanan.

Talking about her initiation into music, she says, “I was born and raised in Perumbavoor town near Kochi. My father was a music-lover and a regular concert-goer. He noticed that I was humming tunes since I was two-and-a-half-years old. So, he recognised my potential and was excited about the prospect of his little one becoming a musician! Also, both my grandparents (maternal and paternal) who had been trained in music lived with us, so there was a musical influence at home.” Later, after these basic lessons, she was taken to Chandramana Narayanan Nambodiri. In 1992, she gave her first solo concert. After that, as they say, there was no looking back. Her career took off with multiple opportunities around Kerala and then the rest of south India.

Since then, till today, she has to her credit around 750 solo concerts including fusion concerts. However, she had been continuing her academic pursuits. Renuka acquired a degree in electrical and electronic engineering and became an IT professional. She is a certified Project Manager from Project Management Institute (PMI). She also married an IT professional and it was after marriage that she moved to Chennai for a few years. However, subsequently, she moved back to Kochi where she now lives with her husband and daughter Aananditha. Renuka also has a music school of her own called Aatma.

Her performances have been for various sabhas and academies and prestigious platforms across India. She has performed abroad too. Among the highlights of her career or what she describes as memorable concerts are the ones at Madras Music Academy, Music Academy in Thiruvananthapuram, Shanmughananda Fine Arts in Mumbai, Narada Gana Sabha in Chennai, Parliament of Religions at Kalady, Kerala; and the vast gathering at the Krishna Pushkaralu in Andhra Pradesh. “I was also blessed to be able to perform before spiritual guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba at Prashanti Nilayam in Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh. I also sang before the iconic M S Subbulakshmi when she visited Kerala.”

Fusion music

She also has several videos to her credit. These include tributes to various great composers and singers like Swathi Thirunal titled Chaliye (among her latest efforts), to Lata Mangeshkar and Bhupen Hazarika, as also Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. Indeed, Renuka is noted for her interest in Western classical and popular music. “I also admire Yanni, Lady Gaga and Adele,” she says.

An interesting recent work of Renuka is an album titled Ardhanareeswaram which, to use her description is a “progressive Carnatic rock album”. It features several songs including Thyagaraja krithi Maara Vairi in Nasikabhushani ragam. The video for this song is dedicated to the LGBT community and celebrates queer pride. Allied to her interest in western music genres is her love of fusion music. In fact, she is one of the prominent Carnatic musicians of Kerala who regularly ventures into fusion concerts. She has also collaborated with percussionist and chenda player Mattannur Sankaran Kutty.
 

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