Sripathi Panditaradhyula Balasubrahmanyam

His magical voice, as melodious as the harp of the heaven and his  humble persona are the legacy left by Late Sri S P Balasubrahmanyam.

With his euphonious voice, SPB  garnered millions of fans who find his music as melodious as the Sapthaswaras. Known for his gracious contributions to the film industry, Sripathi Panditaradhyala Bala subrahmanyam was a musician, singer, actor and a producer. Owing to histalents, SPB was graced with titles like Kala Prapoorna, Gana Gandharva and Gana Vidhushi. Considered to be a prominent person in  Indian cinema, he was one of the best singers in the country. His work for the Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi industries is well- known. Through his career, he has sung more than 40,000 songs in different languages.

Balasubrahmanyam was born on 4th June 1946 in Konetampet, Pallipattu, Chittoor District, which is now referred as Tiruvallur, Tamil Nadu. He was born in a Brahmin family and his father, S. P. Sambamurthy, was a well-known Harikatha artist.

Balasubramanyam was five years old when he debuted on stage with a play “Bhakta Ramadoss” in which, his father also played a part. Balasubrahmanyam was always inclined towards languages and literary discussions with his father, which excited him the most. Inspired from his father, SPB developed an interest in music, right from his childhood. Despite of being interested in music, SPB did not learn it. He lived at his uncle Srinivas Rao’s house in the city and completed his primary education.

S. P. Balasubrahmanyam was born in Nellore, Madras Presidency an orthodox Telugu Brahmin family. His father, S. P. Sambamurthy, was a Harikatha artist who also acted in plays. His mother was Sakunthalamma, who died on 4 February 2019.He had two brothers and five sisters, including singer S. P. Sailaja.His son S. P. Charan is also a popular South Indian singer,actor, and producer Balasubrahmanyam developed an interest in music at an early age, studied musical notations, and learned music. He enrolled at the JNTU College of Engineering Anantapur with the intention of becoming an engineer. Balasubrahmanyam continued to pursue music during his engineering studies and won awards at singing competitions. In 1964, he won the first prize in a music competition for amateur singers organized by the Madras-based Telugu Cultural Organization. He was the leader of a light music troupe composed of Anirutta (on the harmonium), Ilaiyaraaja (on guitar and later on harmonium), Baskar (on percussion), and Gangai Amaran (on guitar).He was selected as the best singer in a singing competition which was judged by S. P. Kodandapani and Ghantasala. Often visiting music composers seeking opportunities, his first audition song was "Nilave Ennidam Nerungadhe". It was rendered by veteran playback singer P. B. Srinivas

Balasubrahmanyam made his debut as a playback singer on 15 December 1966 with Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna, a Telugu film scored by his mentor, S. P. Kodandapani.The first non-Telugu song that he recorded just eight days after his debut Telugu song was in Kannada in 1966 for the film Nakkare Ade Swarga.He recorded his first Tamil song "Athaanodu Ippadi Irundhu Eththanai Naalaachu", a duet with L. R. Eswari under the musical direction of M. S. Viswanathan for the film Hotel Ramba, which was never released. Other early songs he sang were duets with P. Susheela, "Iyarkai Ennum Ilaya Kanni" in the 1969 film Shanti Nilayam, starring Gemini Ganesh, and "Aayiram Nilavae Vaa" for M. G. Ramachandran in Adimaippenn.His first song with S. Janaki was "Pournami Nilavil Pani Vizhum Iravil" in Kannippenn. He was then introduced to the Malayalam film industry by G. Devarajan in the film Kadalppalam.

Balasubrahmanyam had the distinction of rendering the most songs on a single day by any singer. He had recorded 21 songs in Kannada for the composer Upendra Kumar in Bangalore from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm on 8 February 1981 and 19 songs in Tamil, 16 songs in Hindi in a day.In the 1970s, he also worked with M. S. Viswanathan in Tamil movies for actors such as M. G. Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan. He recorded duets with P. Susheela, S. Janaki, Vani Jayaram and L. R. Eswari. Balasubrahmanyam's association with Ilaiyaraaja began even before Ilaiyaraaja came to the cine field. In the early days, he used to sing in towns and villages all over south India and Ilaiyaraaja, then an unknown harmonium and guitar player accompanied him in his concerts.

In the 1990s, he worked with composers such as Vidyasagar, M. M. Keeravani, Hamsalekha, S. A. Rajkumar and Deva among others, but his association with A.R.Rahman turned out be a major success. Balasubrahmanyam recorded three songs for A. R. Rahman in the latter's debut film Roja.Other popular songs include "July Maadham" from Pudhiya Mugam, which also marked the debut of singer Anupama,"Mannoothu Manthayilae" from Kizhakku Cheemayile which was a folk number and he almost sang all songs in the musical love story Duet and "Thanga Thaamarai" from Minsara Kanavu which fetched him, the sixth and latest of his National Film Awards for Best Male Playback Singer to date.

Balasubrahmanyam sang the most songs for Hamsalekha in Kannada. He received his fourth National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for the song "Umandu Ghumandu" from the Kannada film Ganayogi Panchakshari Gavayi (1995), which was a Hindustani classical music-based composition by Hamsalekha. In 2013, Balasubrahmanyam recorded the title song for Chennai Express – "Chennai Express", singing for the lead actor Shahrukh Khan, under the music direction of Vishal-Shekhar, breaking his 15-year hiatus from Hindi cinema music. In May 2020, SPB crooned a song on humanity titled "Bharath Bhoomi" which was composed by Ilaiyaraaja as a tribute to the people such as police, doctors, nurses and janitors who have been significantly working amid COVID-19 pandemic.The video song was officially unveiled by Ilaiyaraaja through his official YouTube account on 30 May 2020 in both Tamil and Hindi languages.

Death

  • On 5 August 2020, Balasubrahmanyam tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted to MGM Healthcare in Chennai.Subsequently, his health deteriorated and he was shifted to the intensive care unit in a critical state. He required a ventilator and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support.On 7 September 2020, Balasubrahmanyam tested negative for the coronavirus, although he remained using a ventilator and ECMO. He started showing signs of recovery, including light speech and physical activities.However, the hospital released a statement on 24 September stating that he became "extremely critical" and was on "maximal life support".He died on 25 September 2020 at 1:04 pm of cardio-respiratory arrest after over a month-long hospitalisation. He was buried at his farm house in Tamaraipakam, Thiruvallur district with state honours on 26 September 2020.
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