Music runs in the blood of Sangeetha Sisters – Sangeethakala and Rajyalakshmi, as they are the fifth lineage of the great Saint Tyagaraja. Their melodious voice has been the heart of many musical and dance programmes. Speaking exclusively to Natyahasini, Rajyalakshmi shares that on the occasion of World Women’s Day, on Tuesday, the Telangana Government would be honouring them. “It is an honour for us to receive the State Government award,” the younger sister of the Sangeetha Sisters, says, on the eve of the award presentation.
The Sangeetha Sisters have been honoured with many awards across the globe, like the Kala Ratna by the Vamsi Arts Theatre, Gana Kalanidhi, Gana Ratna Award, and many more, while Sangeethakala was awarded Lady Legend and Rajyalakshmi the Wonder Woman, recently. No matter, how many honours and awards they have to their name, they are humble and ready to teach their craft to anyone willing to learn sincerely. For the sisters, it is not money – Music is devotion and communication with God.
On behalf of the Telangana Government, Advisor K V Ramanachari, Retd. IAS, had entrusted the project of Bhakta Ramdas, on the lines of Saint Annamacharya Project, and the sisters have left no stone unturned in popularising the Bhajans of Ramdasu. “Every year, we have been organising group singing of Bhakta Ramdasu since 2014 and even during the COVID time of two years, this didn’t stop. The singing was organised online,” says Rajyalakshmi. She further says that they were also part of the Annamacharya project launched by the TTD. Another project dear to their heart is the Patriotic project – Swatantra Swaram. “Under this too, we have been organising programmes annually,” she says.
Grandfather First Guru: Though born into a musical family, where grandfather Kidambi Kodandapani, was their first Guru, who initiated them into music. It must be recalled that their grandfather was a popular musician in Mahbub Nagar, before moving to Hyderabad. In those days, writers Daasarathi and Jnanpith awardee Dr. C. Narayana Reddy made a strong influence in Kodandapani’s music. Rajyalakshmi reveals that they gave their first Kutcheri when she was three years old. She said they had no inhibitions when asked to sing. The Sangeetha Sisters would make themselves comfortable be it in marriages, sabhas, Temples or anywhere, with just a mike and they would floor their audiences.
The Sangeetha Sisters have been fine-tuned by stalwarts – Nedunuri Krishna Murthy and the ‘Hyderabad Brothers’, D. Sheshachari and D. Raghavachari. The younger sister has also trained under Carnatic musician, Srirangam Gopalaratnam.
Double Gold Medallist Rajyalakshmi says: “We were on the All India Radio and Doordarshan giving programmes simultaneously. For a period of five years, we were on the AIR’s Yuva Vani, a Prog. most popular with the youth. We have also performed in SVBC, Naadaneerajanam and many other programmes.” On the other hand, the Sangeetha Sisters have composed music for dance ballets too. If given an opportunity, the Sangeetha Sisters are ready to lend their voice for films too, in short follow the footsteps of their versatile grandfather.
Music Workshops: To keep classical music alive, the Sangeetha Sisters, who are B High Grade artists, have established Sri Kodandapani Sangeetha Vidya Samstha in memory of their grandfather. Regularly, the sisters hold music workshops and have conducted over 100 workshops on the project ‘Swatantra Swaram’ and ‘Antha Ramamayam’ in cities like Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Odisha, Kolkata since last 15 years.
Rajyalakshmi also says that they train students to take the Certificate, Diploma and Master’s exams in Music conducted by various universities. “Even today, students are interested in learning music, but some of them get carried away to light music or popular music, but for all the base is the Sapta Swara,” she says. This reminds one of Legend K Viswanath’s ‘Shankarabharanam’. The mission of the Sangeetha Sisters is to popularise music – Prachar Yagnam, of the great saints like Annamacharya, Bhakta Ramadasu, Thyagaraja and also, popularise the music of great music maestros.