Saying yes to women power
Becoming India’s first ever woman saxophonist is not an easy task to achieve. Her pure love and passion for this art is what egged her on all throughout. In a candid chat, we find out the inside story...
Born into a family of musicians, pursuing music was always on the back of her mind. Subbalaxmi shares, “My grandfather Sri. M R Rajappa was Asthana Vidwan in Mysore palace. Followed by my father Sri M R Sainatha who was an A Grade Mrudhangam staff artist in All India Radio. My uncles and relatives too were Indian classical music percussionists. So, music is in my genes.” Attending the concerts of her guru/role model PadmaSri Dr. Kadri Gopalnath ji, she says, “ I was mesmerised by his playing, the vibrant rich tone quality and the attractive instrument. It was dream come true to train under such an accomplished person.” Speaking On what music is to her, she shares, “Playing music is a divine opportunity. I see it as a blessing from god.” Subbalaxmi recently spoke at a conference where she spoke about the sexism she had to endure. She shares, “Being the only girl in my class, I was constantly teased by the boys who suggested that I should rather learn how to cook. The saxophone is a male instrument and its not easy for a girl to take it up as a career. But through this all, my parents and my guru have supported me.”
A female saxophonist is uncommon in India. But, Subbalaxmi and her sister Lavanya broke the norm by becoming the ‘Saxophonist Sisters of India’.
Subbalaxmi believes that Bengaluru has enriched her musical journey. The city girl has awards like the prestigious “Padmabharathi”, “Yuvakalabharathi”, and many more to her credit. She adds, “Bengaluru is a great stage for all kinds of musicians. Here, the listeners encourage and support all types of genre.”
Subbalaxmi has to keep up the the rich legacy, which her father and grandfather have set. “My way of work is very different from my family and friends, because I infuse a lot hybrid western, pop, classical, fusion and world folk influences to my music,” this lover of anything classical says.
Subbalaxmi feels that Bengaluru is a city that fosters an environment for saxophone musicians to thrive. She signs off my saying that women who want to take this up as a career should not listen to what others have to say. “ Practise is everything while playing the saxophone, and follow your dreams no matter what,” she ends.