has a golden touch in her voice which
enthralls her listeners from all over the
globe. There is tantalizing mystery behind
that cherubic smile. Her deep relish for
tradition and mystical old-world charm is
Her foundation in the world of music was
laid at a very young age and it was her
mother Smt. Choodamani who groomed her,
before the onus to nurture her music fell
upon Vidwan Sri. B.V. Lakshman.
Sudha initially wanted to become a doctor,
but the thought of performing dissections so
repelled her that she gave up the idea. “It
wasn’t that I was a bad student. My
dissections were always neat and my diagrams
were perfect, but I always found myself
fainting at the sight of blood!”
She proved her prowess both in academics and
in music and now, stood at a juncture where
two roads diverged - there was ‘something’
that was needed to push her onto the road
less traveled by.
Enter Padmavibushan Sangeetha Kalanidhi Dr.
M.L. Vasanthakumari, hailed by many as a
musical genius, a doyen of Carnatic music.
In 1977, Sudha won a Central Government
scholarship that gave her the opportunity to
come under the wings of this master of a
great parampara. From this point on; there
was no turning back. Sudha had the golden
opportunity to provide vocal support to MLV
for about a decade.
Of MLV, (as she was affectionately called by
all) Sudha often said “Music was only one of
the few things she taught me. She taught me
how to live life to its fullest.” Sudha,
with a touch of nostalgia, vividly recalls
how while singing an Ashtapathi in
ragamalika, there would come a sangathi in
Yaman Kalyani at a higher octave.
Spontaneously, MLV would stop and allow
Sudha to take over. “She was such a generous
person on stage….in some sense it also
reflected how she was in life as well.” From
1990, Sudha’s rise was phenomenal, and
following her Guru’s demise, she has been
considered as MLV’s vaarisu.
Sudha is a top ranking artiste for Prasar
Bharati, Chennai and performs at important
events of All India Radio and Doordarshan.
Music had now taken centre stage but for
Sudha it would not be at the cost of her
academics. She holds an M.A. in Economics.
Being such a vivacious, versatile and highly
talented individual, it’s no surprise that
Sudha won the award- Outstanding Student of
Ethiraj College, for three years in
succession- an achievement which for a long
time remained unmatched. She was the
Treasurer and later the Vice President of
the Students Union and won the prestigious
‘Service to the College’ medal.
Sudha’s rise to prominence has not been an
easy task.” Being a recognized musician
requires tremendous amount of hard work. One
good performance alone is not enough and
there is a lot of practice one has to go
through. It usually takes an artist around
seven to ten years to become well known and
the financial returns might be mediocre….one
has to be determined enough to stick through
Sudha carved a niche for herself in the
Carnatic School of singing, thanks to her
voice that packed 'swara' and 'shakti'. Her
distinctly stunning vocal style and
effortless singing made her the most sought
after artiste for several prestigious
concerts. As the brightest singing star on
the horizon, her voice mesmerized 'rasikas'
across the country and beyond the Indian
Sudha is a top ranking artiste of the All
India Radio and the Doordharshan, besides
being the artiste in demand by leading
recording companies like AVM, INRECO, VANI
and AMUTHAM. With her crystal clear and
almost divine voice, Sudha reached out to
the discerning music lovers across the
world, widening musical communications
across the cultural borders.
Today, Sudha Ragunathan is known for her
beautiful vocal tapestries, soaring solos
and unusual timbres. Her creative expression
in Carnatic music has no par. And, her music
is known to flow straight from the heart,
dripping with classical divinity.
Her authentic renditions of 'krithis' and
refined elaborations of 'ragas', the élan
with which she breezes through the 'kalpana
swaras', her command over the octaves and
her supremely confident stage presence
combined with unstated humility has given
her an enviable pre-eminence in the world of
Carnatic music. Call it her 'Guru Dakshina'
to her mentor, Dr.M.L.Vasantha Kumari.
In the world of voices, can you hear my
song? “The enthralling, enchanting voice of
Sudha and her entrancing harmonies have
graced several 'kutcheries' and
celebrations. She was the auspicious voice
at the first live broadcast of the National
Program Series of concerts hosted at
Sudha also has the unique honor of rendering
'Vande Mataram' at the Central Hall of
Parliament, New Delhi on 27th January 2000
to mark the completion of 50 years of the
free Indian Republic.
Even today, Sudha has to work tremendously
hard to keep up the reputation that she has
built. And now, with a husband, and two
children, there never seems to be enough
time. “It’s Stress with a capital ‘S’, she
sighs”. “I wouldn’t have come this far if it
wasn’t for my family; they’ve co-operated
Music has given Sudha plenty in life and she
plans to give back to it some in her own
special way. Apart from teaching or starting
a music school, Sudha plans to release a
series of cassettes and CDs in collaboration
with other senior artistes that bring out
the therapeutic effect of Carnatic music.
She is also the Managing Trustee of
‘Samudhaaya Foundation”, started in 1999,
with a “cause” in mind. To play her role in
giving back to society what she has gained –
immense love, recognition, appreciation and
standing in the hearts of the people who
enjoy and appreciate her music and always
come back for more!
R.L. Stevenson said “The heights by great
men reached and kept were not attained by
sudden flight, but they, while their
companions slept were toiling upwards in the
night.” Sudha’s life has been no different
and with every mountain that she has scaled,
she has always set her sights on higher
Awards & Titles
Sudha Ragunathan was conferred The
Rajiv Gandhi Moopanar Award along
with nine others, for eminence in the field
of music, in Chennai on August 23,
2007.Union Minister of State for Statistics
Sri.G K Vasan conferred the
awards.Cardiologist Dr. Cherian, Actor
Ms.Manorama, Poet Sri. Pa Vijay,
Educationist & Madras Christian College
Principal Ms.Annamma Philip, Mridangam
Maestro Sri. K.Sivaraman, Orator Ms.Barathi
Baskar, Film Director Sri. Rajkiran,
Educationist & Hindustan Aeronautical
College Principal Varghese and Social Worker
and Woman Leader Ms.S. Fathima Muzaffer were
other recipients of the Award.
The Government of India announced the
Padma Sri award to be given to Sudha
Ragunathan in the field of Carnatic music
for 2004, on January 26th 2004. She received
the Padma Sri from the president of India,
A.P.J.Abdul Kalam on 30th June 2004.
highest award conferred by the Tamilnadu
Government (India), given to outstanding
artistes – 1993
Sudha was the proud recipient of
VIRTUOSO AWARDS 2005. Best carnatic
vocalist on August19, 2005.
Sudha Ragunathan had the honour of being
named a PAUL HARRIS FELLOW in appreciation
of her tangible and significant contribution
to the society by the Rotary Club of Madras
to coincide with the 75th year ‘Charter Day’
celebrations on July 19th 2004.
The Rotary Club of Madras presented the
‘Award of Excellence’ to Smt.Sudha
Ragunathan on 19 July 2004 honouring her
talent and outstanding accomplishments.
The Southern India Cinematographers
Association announced Ms.Sudha Ragunathan as
the Best Female Playback
Singer in Tamil for the movie ‘IVAN’
and awarded the SICA Awards for her
The title ISAI ARASI
was conferred on Sudha by Sri Ram Samaj,
Chennai on April 23, 2004.
Sudha was the recipient of 2003
‘WISDOM Star of India Award and the
title of SANGEETA RATNA
for her exemplary service to promote music
worldwide. It was given by the magazine
WISDOM on 13/12/2003.
KALASAGARAM Secunderabad conferred on Sudha
the title of ‘Sangeetha
Kalasagram’ on 29 November 2003.
Sudha Ragunathan was conferred the title
achievements as a performer, and as a mark
of personal distinction in the propagation
of Carnatic Music on 15 December 2003 by the
Margazhi Mahotsavam at Chennai.
A certificate and gold coin was awarded to
Sangeetha Vidwamsini Sudha Ragunathan for
lifetime contribution to the propagation
classical music on the occasion of the
Peetarohana Swarna Jayanthi Mahotsav
celebrations of His Holiness Sri Jayendra
Saraswathi Swamigal on 20 January 2004 at
in 1997 from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha,
Sangeetha Kala Sarathy
from Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, Chennai
from His Holiness Shri Jayendra Saraswathi
of Kanchi Mutt.
Bhusana from Sri Bharatalaya,
Bharat Jyothi in
1998 from The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, New
from The Mahasannidanam fo Sringeri.
Gana Kuyil from
Valmiki Manram, Chennai.
‘Isai Peroli’ and
VST Award for excellence from Karthik Fine
MLV Platinum Jubilee
Award 2003 from Dr. MLV Cultural
Rashtriya Ekta Award
at the 57th birth anniversary celebrations
of Rajiv Gandhi in recognition of
achievements and contribution to fine arts.
Citizen Award 2001 from The National
Citizen’s Guild, New Delhi.
Gem of India Award
2001 at the All India Achiever’s conference
in the category of fine arts and culture.
Seva Ratna Award
2001 from The Centenarian Trust, Chennai.
Swara Raga Laya Ratna
from Academy of Indian Music, Melbourne.
Isai Chelvam in
2000 from Muthamizh Peravai from Kalaingar
Sivan Isai Selvi
from Papanasam Sivan Rasika Sangam.
Rasika Kala Ratna
from Rasikapriya, Sydney.
Amrithavarshini from Sree Kanchi
from The Federation Tamil Sangams of North
America and the Tamil Nadu Foundation, USA.
from Telugu Academy.
Youth Excellence Award
from Sri Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer
Woman of Golden
Substance 1998-1999 from Rotary Club,
Sangeeta Kala Sironmani
from Nungabakkam Cultural Academy Trust,
Sudha received the title of
from Sri Shanmukhananda Sangeetha Sabha, New
Delhi in February, 2005 for her meritorious
achievement in Carnatic Music.
Padma Sarangapani Cultural Academy honoured
Sudha with the ‘Padma
Sadhana’ award on 24th December 2005.
The Tamil Brahmin Association (THAMBRAAS) At
Chennai presented Sudha Ragunathan with the
Award of Excellence at the Silver Jubilee of
State Conference on 25/12/2005.
The Rotary Club of Trichirapalli Fort,
Trichy presented Sudha with the
VOCATIONAL EXCELLENCE Award on 8th
‘Vani Kala Sudhakara’
from the Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha on
December 9, 2005.
from the Sri Rama Bhaktha Jana Samaj,
from the Universal Fine Arts, on 21st
on December 26 2005, under the aegis of the
music journal, ‘Nadha Brahmam’.