Tell us how your journey into the world of music began.
I was born into a typical south Indian middle-class family that moved to Bombay. My parents adored music. My mother was a trained singer,and as a child, I received a fair amount of formal training. Aside from that, our house was a meeting ground for leading musicians on weekends.This ambience brought me into the music fold without my own volition Shashaa says she always had a love and fascination for languages. She has sung in 12 languages and feels Malayalam is difficult but the melody is equally beautiful.
Having started singing at the age of 10, what keeps you motivated?
The love of music and the love I receive from my audiences on one hand, and on the other, the support I receive from my family
Aruna Sairam is known for her varied repertoire. How did this happen?
In 2002, when I came to Chennai, I realised I had to ace my act in order to leave a mark. So, while dipping into the Alvars, the Nayanars and other old texts, I did a lot of in-depth research. I tied up old Alvar poetry with new songs. I just kept building my repertoire. A tremendous amount of research and preparation went into the Aruna Sairam you hear today.
Tell us a little about your 2019 Margazhi season
I came to Chennai rather late in life. So it was like running a race at super speed multiplied by X. I had to work very hard. By God's grace it has paid off, and this season, I have somehow given up the idea that I have to get somewhere. I am just singing and enjoying every bit of it. It's my thanksgiving to God. He has given me much more than I expected
How has the music scene changed over the years?
The methods of learning and teaching have changed a lot since my time. We learnt from the gurus face to face. Then slowly, technological changes came about. As a young performer I was taught to work with a'Walkman'. Then came CDs. Now it's the pen drive. I also have a lot of my study material on my phone. Music has become very accessible and the number of people who can perform has increased. Which, I think, is great.
Any particular incident that has stuck with you over the years?
As a young mother, I thought I would become a teacher, and got admission for a B.Ed course. I called a former teacher of mine for advice. She said it would depend on why I was doing thecourse - was it to pass time, or be the best student? I realized then that we decide where we want to go in life. I always analyse why I am doing something and how far I can get by doing it.
Tell us about your routine on the day of a concert
I have a long mind-and-body preparation and music practice routine generally, but on a concert day, I don't sing much. I just do mind-and-body preparation and think about the concept of the concert. I don't speak much, either. I have an early lunch and reach the auditorium two hours before a performance. At the end of the concert I gohome, offer prayers and only then doI eat.
How did you develop your sense of style?
I didn't pay much attention to attire till a friend took me to a make-up artiste in Paris who impressed on me the importance of looks when you appear in public. Since then I have been conscious of this. Slowly I developed my own sense of style.
Your fitness mantra?
Moderation in eating. Going to bed early. Morning walks. Mental and physical preparation.