The eminent violin maestro (talented solo violinist) and Hindustani classical music entertainer, Smt. N. Rajam was born in the proficient music family of Chennai in 1938. Her father, Vidwan A. Narayana Iyer, was an exceptional and accomplished personality of Carnatic music. Smt. N. Rajam acquired the knowledge of Carnatic music from her father and rehearsed her raga with the Musiri Subramania Iyer and Pandit Omkarnath Thakur.
She also got coached by the esteemed specialist Pt. Mahadev Mishra. She is referred to as the Singing Violin by music enthusiasts worldwide and as an emeritus professor by the Banaras Hindu University because of her remarkable expertise and appreciable service towards violin music. Her brother T. N. Krishnan was also an extraordinary violin virtuoso.
She was intrigued by music when she was just three years old and therefore desired to learn violin. Followed by six years, at the age of nine, she was already a skilled violin soloist. As a trained performer, she got various opportunities to perform abroad, such as in Europe, Russia, Netherlands, the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc. She has several disciples, to name a few are her music students from Banaras Hindu University, Swarna Khuntia, Satya Prakash Mohanty and V. Balaji. They turned out to be ace violinists. She also taught her family members, including her niece Kala Ramnath, daughter Sangeeta Shankar, and granddaughters Ragini Shankar, Nandini Shankar and Pranav Kumar.
For about 40 years, she was the music professor at BHU, Varanasi, in the art faculty. Subsequently, she became the head of the department and the Dean of the college at BHU.
She began her music career at a very young age and became a megastar and icon in the music scene. She embarked on the journey of performing as a Hindustani violinist at the age of 15. She became an extraordinary violinist, just like flute performer late Shri Pannalal Ghosh, Sarangi performer late Shri Bundu Khan and Shehnai performer late Ustad Bismillah Khan. She has received numerous awards and gold medals, like for her first position in B.A., M.A. in Sanskrit (from the BHU), B.Music (from the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya), M.Music (from the Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad) and PhD in Music. She served as the chairperson of the Sangeet Natak Academy of Uttar Pradesh.
Awards and Recognitions
- The government of India honoured her with the Padma Shri award in 1984 for her inordinate service and contribution to music.
- The government of India again honoured her with another award Padma Bhushan in 2004.
- She was awarded the Puttaraja Sanmaana in 2004.
- The central and state governments awarded her the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and Sangeet Natak Akademi fellowship in 1990 and 2012, respectively.
- The Pune Art and Music Foundation awarded her the Pune Pandit Award in 2010.
- She was also awarded the Malaviya Award from BHU, Varanasi.