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Artist

S. Janaki

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Biography

Sishtla Sreeramamurthy Janaki (born 23 April 1938), popularly known as S. Janaki, is an Indian playback singer and occasional music-composer from Andhra Pradesh. She is one of the best-known playback singers in South India and has recorded 48,000 songs in 17 Languages like Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, Odiya, Hindi, Bengali, Tulu, Sanskrit, Sinhalese, Badaga, Punjabi, Urdu, Japanese, German, Latin and Arabic languages. Starting in 1957, her career has spanned six decades. She has recorded songs in more than 17 regional Indian languages and foreign languages. She has won four National Film Awards and 33 different State Film Awards. Her association with singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and composer Ilaiyaraaja is well known. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s her duets with P. B. Srinivas, S.P.Balasubramanyam and with Dr. Rajkumar were some of the most romantic duets in the history of Tamil and Kannada film music.

S. Janaki, who is known as "The Nightingale of the South", is a recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Mysore and the Kalaimamani award from Tamil Nadu State Government.

In 2013, she refused the offer of a Padma Bhushan award by the Government of India, saying that it had come "too late" and that South Indian artists were not given their due recognition.

A book titled Aalpanathile Thenum Vayambum, authored by Abhilash Pudukad, details the life and career of Janaki.

S. Janaki was born on 23 April 1938 in a Telugu-speaking family in Pallapatla, Repalle Town, in Guntur, Madras Presidency, British India (now in Andhra Pradesh). She was interested in music from early age and started performing at the age of three. She learnt music from Sree Paidiswamy, a nadaswaram teacher.

In her twenties, Janaki moved to Chennai on the advice of her uncle, joining AVM Studios as a singer. She started her career as a playback singer in the Tamil movie Vidhiyin Vilayattu in 1957. Subsequently, she performed in the Telugu movie MLA. She did sing film songs in six languages in her first year. She has also recorded devotional music of Meera. She picked a Malayalam lullaby "Amma poovinum..." from 10 Kalpanakal as her swansong of her 60 year singing career and retired on 11 March 2017 by a Kannada stage program in Bangalore.

Janaki was increasingly given work by music directors such as M. S. Viswanathan, K. V. Mahadevan, Sankar Ganesh, V. Kumar, etc.. But her combination with M S Baburaj in Malayalam is equalled to that of Lata- Madan Mohan in Hindi film music by many music critics. From the late 1970s to the mid-1990s she formed a strong singer-composer partnership with Ilayaraja in Tamil and Telugu. She was the favorite singer of Kannada music director G K Venkatesh and Rajan Nagendra and sung innumerable hits for them in Kannada.

Janaki says that the toughest song of her singing career is the Kannada song "Shiva shiva ennada naaligeyeke" from the movie Hemavathi. The song, which is in two different ragas, Thodi and Aabhogi, was composed by L. Vaidyanathan. Janaki prayed before recording it.

Janaki married V. Ramprasad in 1958; he died in 1990. Currently, she lives in Hyderabad with her son Murali Krishna.

Most of S. Janaki's songs have been with S.P. Balasubrahmanyam. However, in the South Indian film industry, she also had a large amount of duets with Dr. Rajkumar, T.M. Soundararajan, P.B. Sreenivas, K.J. Yesudas, P. Jayachandran, Malaysia Vasudevan, Sirkazhi Govindarajan, Mano, Ghantasala and Ilaiyaraaja, etc.

In the Tamil cinema, although she had sung with S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, Malaysia Vasudevan, T.M. Soundararajan, P.B. Sreenivas, Jayachandran and Ilaiyaraaja, she also had songs with singers like Unni Menon, Krishnachandran, P. Unnikrishnan, Shankar Mahadevan, Srinivas (singer), M.G. Sreekumar, Hariharan (singer), and Dhanush.

In the Hindi cinema, although she also sang a few songs with S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, she also sang some songs with Kishore Kumar, Amit Kumar, Suresh Wadkar, Bappi Lahiri, Mohammed Aziz, and Udit Narayan.

Timeline