D.K. Pattammal is dead. The Trinity is no more.

churumuri records with regret the demise of D.K. Pattammal, the doyenne of Carnatic music, in Madras today, 16 July 2009. She was 90 years old.

Damal Krishnaswamy Pattammal overcame an orthodox upbringing, where she was not permitted to sing for friends or relatives, to become part of the Trinity of Carnatic classical music, together with M.S. Subbulakshmi and M.L. Vasantha Kumari.

Pattammal said in a 1999 interview that she was the first Brahmin to come on stage as a Carnatic singer, like Rukminidevi was for Bharatnatyam.

“I was 10 when my father’s friends approached him to let me sing for a gramophone record company. First, my father refused, fearing that the record will be played at all and sundry places. He did not want the works of great masters like Thyagaraja and Dikshitar and his daughter’s voice to he heard at such places. Then Dr. Srinivasan of Kancheepuram, who is my husband’s uncle (I was not married then), persuaded my father to let me sing. My school headmistress, Ammukuttiamma, also urged my father to let me accept the offer. After a lot of pressure from a number of his friends, my father finally agreed.”

Pattammal had a Mysore connection. Her son Laxman Kumar is married to Shanta, daughter of R.K. Pattabhi, brother of the novelist R.K. Narayan and cartoonist R.K. Laxman. Pattammal was a regular visitor to the family’s residence in Mysore, both in Lakshmipuram and Yadavagiri.

Link via Chetan Krishnaswamy

Read the Frontline interview

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Balamurali Krishna: ‘If it sounds good to your ear, it’s Carnatic music’