Aruna Sairam’s voice brings a husky authority to modern Carnatic song. She first learnt to sing by listening to her mother and is part of a long line of female musicians. The direct teaching lineage stretches back over 200 years, to the singers and dancers of the Tamil court.
She is an exponent of ‘pure’ Carnatic singing but also looks outwards, with collaborations ranging from jazz and Sufi to Gregorian chant and film scores. She sings in 12 different languages, and vice-chairs the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s premier national music and dance institution.
She pulls no punches when it comes to the psychological obstacles faced by female musicians today:
“You’re constantly told you’re not good enough…it can be more difficult to be in touch with your inner talents, as society expects women to nourish others first.”
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