Renowned Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri Ramnath speaks to Keerthana Nagarajan and Manasa Mukka after a fantastic concert at Geneva.
Her favourite raga: ‘Shanmukapriya’.
Her favourite country to perform: Srilanka.
Her audiences describe her singing as: Soulful, soothing and meditative. Jayashri needs no introduction. A Chennai-based musician, she’s known to lovers of Carnatic, Hindustani and film music alike.
Born in Kolkata, with her growing up years spent in Mumbai and Chennai, followed by travelling the world for music concerts – how did she become “Bombay” Jayashri”? Her smile reveals that she’s been asked this many times over. “It was a name given by a renowned critic, Subbudu, as I use to live in Bombay at that time.”
Performing in Switzerland
On February 9 and 10, 2018, Jayashri performed a two-day concert in Switzerland. This was her third performance in Switzerland and her first in Geneva; the second being just a day before in Lausanne, and her first concert at the Museum Rietberg in Zurich in 2009.
Regarding her performances in India and abroad, she says, “What is most important for me as an Indian is to treasure the art and culture; the same art and culture with which I have a love story. For me, art is my best friend. And I urge every person to give this kind of friend and love to your children. Music makes life much more beautiful. Growing up with music changes you as a human being. It makes you more beautiful, more sensitive and more lovely.
A brief background
Born into a family of musicians Jayashri’s journey into the world of music began quite early. As a child growing up in the eastern city of Kolkata, she watched, listened and sang along with her mother; blending naturally into the Carnatic music environment at home. Moving across the metropolitans, she formally trained under Carnatic guru T.R. Balamani in Mumbai and then Classical Carnatic music under Violin Maestro Shri Lalgudi Jayaraman in Chennai. With Jayaraman’s sound and sensitive mentorship, Jayashri says she discovered her own deep, personal, long-lasting relationship with music. She says, “He was a mentor, father, guide, friend, philosopher and caring human being.”
She also trained under Mahavir Jaipurvale and Ajay Pohankar learning the nuances of Hindustani music.
The Oscars: a special time
“For me, music is a healer, leveller, and peace giver. It’s very enjoyable and is a learning experience that shares our rich culture,” says Jayashri.
Beginning with her first concert in 1982, there’s been no looking back. She has performed at music festivals and concerts across India and the globe. She tells us of the 35 countries she has performed so far, Srilanka remains her favourite.
In her two-decade-long musical career, Jayashri has created and collaborated with artists in a variety of musical genres in India and across the world. Her song Pi’s Lullaby, in the award-winning film, Life of Pi, was nominated for the Oscars. Jayashri counts it among her most special crossover experiences.
Music: for rural children and those with special needs
She started teaching, sharing her musical knowledge and experience through her foundation – The Hitham Trust.
Jayashri and her students are working with children with special needs in Chennai and many parts of Tamil Nadu helping them discover the abundance of joy in music, and unfurling music’s ability to touch and heal. In her effort to bring music and its magic to one and all, the Hitham Trust has also been engaging musically with children from villages in Tamil Nadu.
On that note, we wish Bombay Jayashri all the best for her future works and bring to you – the readers of Namaste Switzerland – an exclusive interview with the charismatic performer.