Sudha Ragunathan

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Sudha Ragunathan
Ragunathan at Music Academy, Chennai
Born (1956-04-30) 30 April 1956 (age 65)
Madras (present-day Chennai), Tamil Nadu, India
Alma mater Ethiraj College for Women (PG in Economics)
OccupationSinger, Composer
(m. 1982)
  • Venkatraman
  • Choodamani
Awards Padma Shri, Sangita Kalanidhi, Kalaimamani, Padma Bhushan
Musical career
Genres Indian Classical, Carnatic

Sudha Ragunathan is an Indian Carnatic vocalist, singer and composer. She was conferred the Kalaimamani award by the Government of Tamil Nadu in 1994, Padma Shri (2004) and Padma Bhushan (2015) by the Government of India. [1] [2]


Early life and education

Sudha Ragunathan was born in Chennai on 30 April 1956 and later shifted to Bangalore. [3] She did her schooling in Good Shepherd Convent, Chennai. She studied at Ethiraj College, and obtained a postgraduate degree in Economics. [4]

Musical career


Sudha Ragunathan received her initial training in Carnatic music from her mother V. Choodamani. From the age of three, she began to learn bhajans, Hindu devotional songs. Her tutelage continued under B. V. Lakshman. In 1977, she received an Indian government scholarship to study music under a doyenne of Carnatic music, Dr. M.L Vasantha Kumari, whose student she remained for thirteen years. [5]

Trained under Dr. ML Vasanthakumari in the gurukula style, it involved considerable amounts of listening to the teacher and other practitioners to absorb their style and oeuvre. Part of her duties involved the accompaniment on the tanpura of her teacher during concerts, [6] and also accompanying her during concerts. [3] [5] In her own words, [7] "A period of 13 years from 1977 to 1990, a phase of complete absorption and internalisation! There was no teaching in a formal atmosphere. We learnt while being with her during the katchheris (concerts). We would record her singing in our minds and then replay it while learning the intricacies. It was a very challenging and different experience and as I had begun learning very early from her, my mind was like a sponge and absorbed whatever I heard".

As of January 2015, she is preparing to debut in Kollywood as a music director with the upcoming Tamil film 'Thanneer' based on a Novel published in 2009 by Ashoka Mitran. [8]

Performances and critical reception

Sudha Ragunathan has performed at the Madras Music Season every year since 1990, the very year in which her Guru Dr. ML Vasanthakumari breathed her last. [9] She is considered one of India's leading Carnatic performers. [10] In 2013 she was awarded the Sangita Kalanidhi of the Madras Music Academy. [4] She was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian honor, in January 2015.

On 2 October 2016, the United Nations released stamp to honour India's Carnatic music artist Bharat Ratna Dr.M S Subbulakshmi and this stamp was presented to Sudha Raghunathan to honour her performance at the United Nations on 2 Oct 2016. [11]

Concert performances

Ragunathan has performed and collaborated with other artists all over the world. She has performed at the United Nations, [12] and the Théâtre de la Ville, Paris. Sudha performed at the Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Centre, at New York Broadway to commemorate 50 years of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Sudha is the only Indian vocalist to have participated in the Global Vocal Meeting organized by the 'Burghof,' an Academy of Music and Arts at Lorrach, Germany and produced by Stimmen Voices International Vocal Festival.

Other Music

Ragunathan has also performed as a playback singer in the Tamil cinema. [13] She got her first break as playback singer under Illayaraja in the movie 'Ivan', performing the song,'Enna Enna Sethai'. Besides the Carnatic repertoire, Raghunathan has also explored the world music scene, in particular fusion music. [14]


Following Carnatic musicians, Sudha Ragunathan has also taught the tradition to her students. [15] Sudha has launched her own school Sudhaarnava Academy for Musical Excellence on the day of Vijayadashami in 2017. The school has a faculty of her students along with Sudha Ragunathan herself and has conducted lec demonstrations and workshops in many venues across the globe.

Personal life

Sudha married Ragunathan and they have two children named Kaushik and Malavika.

Charitable works

Sudha is known for her charitable works, and had launched the 'Samudhaaya Foundation' in 1999 of which she is the Founder and Managing Trustee. The Foundation has assisted the under privileged in the areas of child healthcare, infrastructural aid for homes and for heart surgeries for children. [3] The foundation has also raised funds for victims of the Gujarat earthquake and cyclone relief in Orissa. [14]


2012Koniyada tharame [16] Thrahimam 2Pranam Kamlakar Roopa Revathi
Sannuthinthumo Prabho [16] Thrahimam2Pranam Kamlakar


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  1. Ragunathan, Sudha. "Padma Awards". Ministry of Home Affairs (Govt. of India). Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  2. Ragunathan, Sudha. "Padma Awards". Ministry of Home Affairs (Govt. of India). Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  3. 1 2 3 Ranjani Govind (15 March 2013). "Holding the new wave". The Hindu. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  4. 1 2 3 B. Kolappan (29 July 2013). "Sangita Kalanidhi for Sudha Ragunathan". The Hindu. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  5. 1 2 Deepa Ganesh (13 September 2013). "In the flow of things". The Hindu. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  6. Shobha Warrier (4 February 2011). "Wanted to be a doctor, became Carnatic star". Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  7. "Simplify Carnatic music so it reaches a larger audience, says renowned singer Sudha Raghunathan | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". dna. 31 October 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  8. Sudha Raghunathan Debut as Music Director with film version of Ashoka Mitran's novel 'Thanneer'
  9. Ranjani Govind (22 December 2006). "For a song". The Hindu. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  10. M. Balaganessin (18 March 2006). "A saga of magic". The Hindu. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  12. "Looking beyond the summit". The Hindu. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  13. Sreedhar Pillai (14 September 2007). "Shhh... He's back". The Hindu. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  14. 1 2 Ranjani Govind (21 August 2007). "Sudha is doing her bit for society". The Hindu. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  15. G. Swaminathan (31 August 2007). "In the footsteps of her guru". The Hindu. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  16. 1 2
  17. "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.