“Bombay” Jayashri Ramnath is an Indian musician. She has sung in multiple languages including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalamand Hindi movies. Born into a family of musicians, Jayashri represents the fourth generation of music practitioners in her family. Trained by Lalgudi Jayaraman and T R Balamani, She was awarded India’s fourth highest civilian award the Padma Shri in 2021. She has become one of the most sought after Carnatic musicians today.
Jayashri plays a concert at the PJ Civic Centre Auditorium, Malaysia
Early life and training
Born in Calcutta, Jayashri received her initial training in Carnatic music from her parents, Smt. Seethalakshmy Subramaniam and Shri. N.N. Subramaniam and was later trained by Lalgudi Jayaraman and T R Balamani. She also learnt the art of playing the Veena from G. N. Dhandapani Iyer.
Jayashri received her training in Hindustani Classical Music as well, from K Mahavir Jaipurwale and Ajay Pohankar . Additionally, she also holds a diploma in Indian Music from the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Delhi.
Jayashri learnt Bharatanatyam under Guru K Kalyanasundaram Pillai of Shri Rajarajeshwari Bharatha Natya Kalamandir, Mumbai. She was also involved in theatre with the Amateur Dramatic Club, Mumbai .
Jayashri performed her first concert in 1982. She has performed at various festivals and venues all across India and in over thirty-five different countries. In India, she has performed in all the major festivals. In New Delhi: The Rashtrapati Bhavan, Vishnu Digambar festival, Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Sri Shanmukhananda Sabha, India International Centre, Indira gandhi National University and Bhakti Utsav. She has performed also at Saptak, Ahmedabad; The Music Academy and Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai; ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata;NCPA and Sri Shanmukhananda Sabha, Mumbai; Chowdiah Memorial Hall and Vasantha Habba, Bangalore; Kuthira Malika and Soorya Festival, Trivandrum, The Palace of Mysore and at the Matrimandir Amphitheatre at Auroville. Across India, she has performed for the Spirit of Unity Concerts for National Integration, SPIC MACAY Festivals and All India Radio’s Sangeet Sammelan.
In the US, she has performed at the Lincoln centre for the performing arts, Carnegie hall, Kennedy Centre for performing arts World Music Institute – New York; University of Arizona – Tucson; University of Texas – Austin; MIT – Boston; University of Louisiana – New Orleans; Cornell University and Amherst College. She has performed in Sydney Opera house (The first carnatic Musician to perform there).
Jayashri’s Europe tours have included venues such as: Saddlers Wells and Queen Elizabeth Hall – London; Festival of Sacred Voices and Museum Rietberg – Switzerland; Vantaa Festival and The Russian Opera House – Helsinki, Finland; Théâtre de la Ville, Festival of Nantes, The Museum of Sculpture and Arts, Musee des Asiatiques and Citi de la Musique – in France; Casa da Musica a Porto – Portugal; Sala de Camera – Spain and at the University of Cologne.
She has also performed at The Royal Opera House – Durban, Monash University – Melbourne and Esplanade Theatre – Singapore.
On 19 September 2017, she performed at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, Canada, with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as they gave the world premiere of Mychael Danna’s “Life of Pi” suite.
Jayashri has been supporting SPIC MACAY since more than three decades. She has travelled to many places in India including remote places in Uttarakhand, hill districts of Himachal Pradesh, Port Blair, rural and tribal areas of Wayanad and Idukki in Kerala, Goa and many other places to perform hundreds of Lecture Demonstrations to students, introducing them to the Indian classical music.
Musical exchanges and dialogues
Jayashri has performed Jugalbandi concerts with Hindustani Musicians Ronu Majumdar, Shubha Mudgal, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and Gaurav Mazumdar. She has dialogued with artistes in dance like Leela Samson, Chitra Visweshwaran, Alarmel Valli, Priyadarsini Govind and Shobana. Jayashri has sung Thirukkural and an Annamacharya verse in the prestigious audio autobiography – Wings of Fire of former President Shri Abdul Kalam.
She performed in ‘Bhaire Baanvari’, the story of Meera, conceptualised and directed by Gowri Ramnarayan. She also was a part of ‘Mathemagician’ with actor V Balakrishnan and written by Gowri Ramnarayan. Jayashri also performed at the MTV Coke Studio(India) Season 1 with Ustad Rashid Khan and Richa Sharma.
Jayashri also conceptualised ‘Listening to Life’ – A concert that features the journey of a musician as a lover of music.
Cross cultural collaboration
Her quest to interact and experiment with various forms of music has resulted in collaborations with various eminent artistes from around the world. Jayashri has sung two Sangam Period songs, Veral Veli (A Kuruntokai poem by Kapilar) and Yaadhum Ure in the album ‘Sandham: Symphony Meets Classical Tamil‘, an international collaboration of various artists and Durham Symphony by Composer Rajan Somasundaram. Yaadhum Ure song, a multi genre fusion where Bombay Jayashri sang Carnatic portions along with various international singers was declared the theme song of 10th World Tamil Conference. The album was featured in Amazon’s Top#10 International Albums category in July 2020.
She has sung with Egyptian singer Hisham Abbas and Senegalese singer Thione Seck. In 2008, she was part of an Indo-Finnish venture ‘Red Earth and Pouring Rain’, where she sang Kuṟuntokai – ancient poems from Sangam literature – with Avanti,conducted by John Storgards set to music by Eero Hämeenniemi. This was premiered at Helsinki and was also performed at Lapland. In 2012, she sang the poetry of Mirza Ghalib composed by Eero Hämeenniemi at the Vantaa festival, with the Gamba quartet led by Markku Luolajan-Mikkola, Finland. The performance was also held at Hungary. In 2014, she worked with Eero Hameenniemi in Yadhum Oore, Sangam Poetry and performed with Finnish Philarmonic orchestra.
Jayashri is also a playback singer whose film music includes Collaborations with M S Vishwanathan ( Tampathigal), Ilayaraja, A.R.Rahman, M M Keeravani, Oesappachan, M Jayachandran,Ramesh Narayan, Haris Jayaraj, Shankar-Ehsan-Loy, Imman, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Govind Vasantha. Her song for Harris Jayaraj won her the Filmfare Awards Southfor Best Female Playback Singer – Tamil for the popular song “Vaseegara” from the Tamil film Minnale. She sang the song “Zara Zara Bahakta Hain” (the Hindi version of “Vaseegara”) in the movie Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein with music composer Harris Jayaraj.She sang in Mahesh Dattani’s ‘Morning Raga’ for the music of Amit Heri. She has a sung in various films in Hindi, Tamil, Bhojpuri, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam languages. She collaborated with composer Mychael Danna on “Pi’s Lullaby” from the film adaptation of Yann Martel‘s book Life of Pi in 2012.
She has composed music for Kalidasa’s Meghadootham, choreographed by Sheejith Nambiar and Parvathy menon, produced by Aim for Seva. She has composed the music for Meera- Soul Divine, choreographed by Chitra Vishweshwaran, produced by Aim for Seva. Jayashri worked with Ang Lee on his motion picture, Life of Pi. She performed the lyrics for “Pi’s Lullaby“, which was nominated for the 2012 Oscars in the Best Original Song category. She has also composed music for actor Revathi‘s films Verukku Neer and Magal in Kerala Cafe. In 2004, Jayashri composed music for Silappadhikaaram, a dance drama commissioned by the Cleveland Cultural Alliance. She has composed music for her albums, Shravanam, Smaranam and more.
Passing on an inheritance
In 2001, Jayashri, along with Sanjay Subrahmanyan and T. M. Krishna wrote the book ‘Prof. Sambamoorthy, the visionary musicologist’, detailing the life and times of Prof. Sambamoorthy – eminent Indian musicologist. The book was published to commemorate his birth centenary. In 2007, Jayashri, T. M. Krishna – leading Carnatic vocalist and Mythili Chandrasekar – Senior Vice-President at JWT together wrote the book Voices Within, – a one-of-a-kind coffee table book that captures the pioneering spirit of 7 of the greatest Carnatic masters of the previous generations.
Jayashri featured in the first full length Carnatic music film ‘Margazhi Ragam’, conceptualised by Director P Jayendra. This was a ground breaking venture that showed Carnatic music in a whole different light. The movie, released in 2008, used the very best and latest technologies for video and sound recording. In her quest to reach music to the next generation, she along with T. M. Krishna and YACM initiated Svanubhava – a week-long Music Festival, exclusively for students of music, which continues to be conducted annually.
Another dimension of music which Jayashri is focused on is in exploring the therapeutic and healing value of music . Under her Trust Hitham she shared music with Children in the Autism Spectrum. She and her students teach music at Swami Dayananda School at Manjakudi . She has been working closely with institution like Kilikili, Sampoorna in Karnataka and Sankalp in Tamil Nadu which care for autistic children. This domain is a matter of serious engagement for Jayashri and her students. Some other institutions that Jayashri has worked with include: The Banyan Chennai (rehabilitation of homeless/mentally challenged women), Vasantha Memorial Trust (cancer patients), Stepping Stones Orphanage Home, Malaysia, Multiple Sclerosis Society of India, Bangalore and more.
Awards and recognition
- 2021 – Padma Shri, by the Government of India
- 2020 – True Beauty Recognition Award along with Alarmel Valli and Suhasini Maniratnam, by Naturals on their celebration of 20 years
- 2020 – Asianet award for the Best Playback for the film Mamangam (2019 film)
- 2019 – Academy of Music Chowdaiah Award 2019, by Academy of Music, instituted by Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Bangalore
- 2019 – “Mangalampalli BalamuraliKrishna Award” conferred by the Government of Andhra Pradesh
- 2019 – “Rama Gana Kalacharya” conferred by the Sree Rama Seva Mandali, Bangalore
- 2015 – “Sangeetha Vedantha Dhurina” from Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira, Bangalore
- 2015 – Sangeetha Kala Sagara from Kalasagaram, Hyderabad
- 2014 – “Kamban Pugazh” award from All Ceylon Kamban Kazhakam, Sri Lanka
- 2013 – The Fourth Indira Sivasailam Endowment Medal Award
- 2013 – Nominated for Academy Award for Best Original Song (Oscar) for Pi’s Lullaby from Life of Pi, 2013
- 2012 – Vani Kala Sudhakara by Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha at their inaugural function of the December Music Festival
- 2011 – “Nada Ratna” award from Nada Sudha, Velachery
- 2011 – Sangeetha Vishwa Kala Bharathi Award from Bharath Kalachar.
- 2009 – Honorary Doctorate – Degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa), awarded by Mother Theresa Women’s University, Kodaikkanal
- 2009 – “Sangeetha Saraswathi” from the South Indian Cultural Association (SICA), during its Golden Jubilee Year
- 2008 – Vijay Award for Best Female Playback Singer for the song ‘Yaaro Manathilae’ from the movie Dhaam Dhoom
- 2007 – Sangeetha Kalasarathy award from Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, Chennai,conferred by the Vanamamalai Mutt pontiff Ramanuja Swamigal
- 2007 – “Kalaimamani Virudhu” from the Government of Tamil Nadu
- 2006 – “Shanmukha Sangeetha Shiromani” from Shanmukhananda Sabha, Bombay
- 2006 – “M S Subbulakshmi Puraskar” from Vishaka Music Academy, Visakhapatnam. Conferred By Shri Nedunuri Krishnamurthy
- 2005 – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer – “Suttum Vizhi” (Ghajini)
- 2005 – ‘Sangeetha Choodamani Award’ from Dr. A C Muthiah from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai in the presence of her Guru Lalgudi Jayaraman
- 2003 – “Atma Vanishri” from Poojya Shri Shantananda Swami of the Temple of Fine Arts at Varanasi, in the presence Tabla Maestro, Pt. Kishan Maharaj
- 2002 – ‘Mani Makudam’ by Rajalakshmi Fine Arts, Coimbatore
- 2002 – ‘Kalki Award’ from Cine Director K Balachander, on behalf of the Kalki Krishnamoorthy Trust
- 2001 – Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer – Tamil for the song ‘Vaseegara’ from the movie Minnale
- 2001 – ‘Naadabhooshanam’ by Shanmukhananda Sangeetha Sabha, New Delhi
- 2001 – ‘Asthana Vidhushi’ of the Shringeri Mutt
- 1997 – ‘Isai Peroli’ by Dr. P Chidambaram, Union Minister of Finance, on behalf of the Karthik Fine Arts, in the presence of Music Maestro Balamurali Krishna
- 1992 – “Yuvakala Bharati” conferred by Bharat Kalachar, Chennai
The relatives of Malayalam poet Irayimman Thampi and the Irayimman Thampi Smaraka Trust alleged that the lyrics penned by Bombay Jayshree for “Pi’s Lullaby”, which was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Original Song category for the 2012 film Life of Pi, were copied from Thampi’s lullaby Omanathinkal Kidavo. Jayashri had rendered ‘Omanathinkal Kidao’ in a Malayalam version back in 2001 on her album Vatsalyam.
- Smaranam: Song of the Soul (2010, Inreco )
- WindSong – Classical Jugalbandi by Pandit Ronu Majumdar & Bombay Jayashri (2010, Kosmik)
- Confluence of Elements (2007, Saregama)
- Kannamma (2007, Rajalakshmi Audio)
- Azhaga (2006, Rajalakshmi Audio)
- Salokyam (2005, Charsur Digital Workstation)
- Margam (2004, Rajalakshmi Audio)
- Kashi (2003, Charsur Digital Workstation)
- Panchabhutams (2003, Music Today)
- Shyama (2003, Music Today)
- Vatsalyam (2001, Charsur Digital Workstation)
- Shravanam: Music for Meditative Listening (2001, Charsur Digital Workstation 018)
- Atma: Soul (2000, Charsur Digital Workstation 6235)
Swapn Sunehere(Jeeva Nadhi) 2015 Baahubali The Beginning Mamta Se Bhari 2015 Baahubali The Beginning