Chembai

Carnatic music, Musical Artist

1896 – 1974

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Who was Chembai?

Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar a.k.a. Vaidyanatha Iyer, was a Carnatic music singer from Palakkad. Known by his village name Chembai, or simply as Bhagavatar, he was born to Anantha Bhagavatar and Parvati Ammal in 1896, at Kottayi-I/II near Palakkad on Janmashtami day. Chembai was noted for his powerful voice and majestic style of singing. His first public performance was in 1904, when he was nine. A recipient of several titles and honours, he was known for his encouragement of upcoming musicians and ability to spot new talent. He was responsible for popularizing compositions like Rakshamam and Pavana Guru, among others. The music critic 'Aeolus' described him as "the musician who has meant the most to Carnatic Music in the first fifty years of the 20th century." His prominent disciples include Chembai Narayana Bhagavathar, Mangu Thampuran, Guruvayur Ponnammal, T. V. Gopalakrishnan, V. V. Subramaniam, P. Leela, Jayan and Vijayan, K. J. Yesudas and Babu Parameswaran, among others. He also mentored and lot of young accompanists, including Palghat Mani Iyer, Lalgudi Jayaraman, M. S. Gopalakrishnan, T. N. Krishnan, Palani Subramaniam Pillai and L. Subramaniam. Memorial music festivals have been held in his honour annually since his death in 1974, the most important being the annually celebrated Chembai Sangeetholsavam.

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Born
Sep 1, 1896
Palakkad
Nationality
  • India
Profession
Lived in
  • Kerala
Died
Oct 16, 1974
Ottapalam

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