Renowned carnatic musician, T M Krishna, has been chosen as the Sangita Kalanidhi awardee for 2024. The award, considered the Oscar equivalent for carnatic music, is given away by the Music Academy in Chennai. 

Thodur Madabusi Krishna, 48, is known for his powerful voice both as a vocalist on the stage and as a social activist, off the stage. A grandnephew of T T Krishnamachari, former finance minister and the founder of the TTK group, Krishna had his early training in music under Bhagavatula Seetharama Sarma and Chengalpet Ranganathan, both of whom, incidentally, are recipients of the other coveted award given by the Music Academy, the Sangita Kala Acharya award, for music teachers. Later, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, a colossus in the world of carnatic music, was so impressed with Krishna’s talent that he took the young vocalist under his tutelage.  

On the stage, Krishna is an iconoclast who scornfully breaks tradition, while never stepping out of the grammar of music. From the way the artistes are seated to letting the accompanist take the lead in portions of the concert to the choice of ragas, Krishna has always shown an explicit disdain for tradition. Yet, thanks to his magnetic music and tear-jerking bhava, he has managed to draw capital crowds, even though the carnatic music loving community is famously tradition-bound.  

Off the stage, Krishna is known for his left-liberal views and attempts to use music as a tool for social reform, perhaps for which he has received the Ramon Magsaysay award. His anti-caste and political views have made him a controversial musician. 

The Music Academy has also named Prof Parassala Ravi (V Raveendran Nair), a mridangam artiste and teacher, and musician Geetha Raja, for the Sangita Kala Acharya award, and vocalists Thiruvayyaru Brothers (S Narasimhan and S Venkatesan), and violinist H K Narasimhamurthy for the ‘TTK Award’.  

The ‘musicologist award’ for 2024 goes to Dr Margaret Bastin, Principal, St Joseph’s Arts and Science College for Women.  

Dancer Dr Neena Prasad, known for her proficiency in multiple hues of classical dance, such as Mohiniyattam, Bharata Natyam and Kathakali, gets the Nritya Kalanidhi award. Dr Prasad is also the founder of the Bharathanjali Academy of Indian Dances at Thiruvananthapuram; she also runs a centre for Mohiniyattam in Chennai. 

According to a press release of the Music Academy, the Sangita Kalanidhi awardee will preside over the academic sessions of the 98th Annual Conference and Concerts of The Music Academy to be held between December 15, 2024 and January 1, 2025 and will receive the award, together with those selected for the Sangita Kala Acharya, the ‘I’I’K and the Musicologist awards at the Sadas on January 1, 2025.    

The Nritya Kalanidhi awardee will receive the award at the Inauguration of The Music Academy’s 18th Annual Dance Festival on January 3, 2025.