Vocalist Pattammal is no more

Noted Carnatic vocalist D.K. Pattammal, one among the Carnatic "female trinity"
 consisting her contemporaries late M.S. Subbulakshmi and M.L. Vasanthakumari, died on Thursday at her residence in Chennai after prolonged illness. Fondly known as Patta, Pattammal, 90, is survived by two sons.

Pattammal, who broke the barriers to enter the male-dominated Carnatic music world and enthralled classical music lovers with her captivating voice for over six decades, was born into a conservative Brahmin family near Kancheepuram in 1919. She was inspired by her father Damal Krishnaswamy, an ardent music lover, to learn Carnatic music and got her formal training from her mother Kanthimathy, a talented singer who was then not allowed to perform at concerts as it was considered taboo by Brahmins of that era.

But once Pattammal gave her maiden performance over the Madras Corporation Radio (now AIR) at the tender age of ten and her first public concert at the Madras Rasika Ranjani Sabha in 1932, there was no looking back. In 1933, Pattammal moved to Chennai and began giving regular concerts. Six years later, she married R. Iswaran.

Her rendition of some of the best "keerthanas" of saint composer Muthuswamy Deekshithar as well as patriotic and revolutionary songs of national poet Subramnaya Bharathi were considered unparalleled. Considered an authority in compositions of Muthuswamy Deekshithar, Pattammal also popularised lyrics of Papanasam Sivan, who introduced her in films. She first sang in Thyagabhoomi, a film banned by the British for its patriotic content, and then in Naam Irruvar. However, she declined offers to sing romantic songs and preferred devotional and patriotic songs.

Among her big hits was 'Aduvome pallu paduvome' in Naam Iruvar. Pattammal last sang for a film in Kamal Hassan-directed Hey Ram, rendering 'Vaishnava Jayato', a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi.

Pattammal was the recipient of various honours, including the Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, Gana Saraswathi and Sangeetha Kalanidhi by the Centre and various states. She was elected Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1992.