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M. S. Subbulakshmi
Born in the temple town of Madurai on September 16, 1916, to veena player Shanmugavadivu, M S Subbulakshmi, popularly known as 'MS' to her admirers, is a legendary Carnatic vocalist. The 83-year-old legendary singer learnt music under her mother and guru Shanmugavadivu and gave her first recital of bhajans at the age of 13. The MS classical repertoire in several languages is a formidable one, representing composers from the ancient to the contemporaneous. She took up film acting briefly and became famous for her role in Meera and for her soulful rendering of Meera bhajans. After a brief stint in films, mostly Tamil, she took to Carnatic music as a whole-time passion, bagging several awards along the way like the 'Isai Vani', 'Sangeet Kalanidhi' at the state level, "Desikottam" from Vishwa Bharati University, Kalidas Samman, Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration (1990), Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, Spirit of Freedom Award (1988) and the Ramon Magsaysay Award (1974) at national and international levels. MS has the distinction of being the first woman to have presided over Music Academy Conference in Madras in 1968. In 1998, M S Subbulakshmi was chosen for the nation's highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna, making her the first musician to be awarded this distinction. She was also conferred Doctor of Letters from several universities in recognition of her contribution to Carnatic music. MS, who had been performing regularly at the Thyagaraja Festival, was given the title of "Sapthagiri Sangeeta Vidwanmani". She also won Western audiences, the first Carnatic musician to do so, at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland (1963), at the United Nations (1966), at the Carnegie Hall in New York and at the Festivals of India in Great Britain and the erstwhile Soviet Union.