Jayashri Ramnath (popularly known as Bombay Jayashri) is an Indian Carnatic music vocalist and academy award nominated music composer. She is a disciple of violin maestro Lalgudi Jayaraman
Early life and training
Jayashri was born in Kolkata, into a family of music connoisseurs and musicians. While growing up in Mumbai, she started training in Carnatic music under the guidance of her parents Seetha and N. N. Subramaniam. She attended St. Anthony's High School in Chembur. Soon, she went on to learn with T. R. Balamani, and trained under her for a period of 10 years. Jayashri was also initiated into Hindustani music and trained under Mahavir Jaipurvale and Ajay Pohankar for about six years. When she moved to Chennai, she came under the guidance and mentorship of her guru Lalgudi Jayaraman. She also learnt the veena from G. N. Dhandapani Iyer. Jayashri has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from R.A. Podar College, Mumbai. She also has a Diploma in Music from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, New Delhi.
Jayashri performed her first concert in 1982. She has performed at various festivals and venues all across India and in over twenty different countries. In India, she has performed in all the major cities. In New Delhi: The Rashtrapati Bhavan, Vishnu Digambar festival, Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Sri Shanmukhananda Sabha, India International Centre and Bhakti Utsav. She has performed also at Saptak, Ahmedabad; The Music Academy and Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai; ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata;NCPA and Sri Shanmukhananda Sabha, Mumbai; Chowdiah Memorial Hall and Vasantha Habba, Bangalore; Kuthira Malika and Soorya Festival, Trivandrum, The Palace of Mysore and at the Matrimandir Amphitheatre at Auroville. Across India, she has performed for the Spirit of Unity Concerts for National Integration, SPIC MACAY Festivals and All India Radio's Sangeet Sammelan.
In the US, she has performed at the World Music Institute - New York; University of Arizona - Tucson; University of Texas - Austin; MIT – Boston; University of Louisiana - New Orleans; Cornell University and Amherst College.
Jayashri's Europe tours have included venues such as: Saddlers Wells and Queen Elizabeth Hall - London; Festival of Sacred Voices and Museum Rietberg - Switzerland; Vantaa Festival and The Russian Opera House - Helsinki, Finland; Théâtre de la Ville, Festival of Nantes, The Museum of Sculpture and Arts, Musee des Asiatiques and Citi de la Musique - in France; Casa da Musica a Porto - Portugal; Sala de Camera - Spain and at the University of Cologne.
She has also performed at The Royal Opera House - Durban, Monash University - Melbourne and Esplanade Theatre - Singapore.
Musical exchanges and dialogues
Jayashri's jugalbandis with Ronu Majumdar and Shubha Mudgal have been very well received.She has dialogued with artistes in dance like Leela Samson and Priyadarsini Govind.Jayashri has sung Thirukkural and an Annamacharya verse in the prestigious audio autobiography - Wings of Fire of former President Shri Abdul Kalam. She performed in 'Bhaire Baanvari', the story of Meera, conceptualized and directed by Gowri Ramnarayan.She also was a part of 'Mathemagician' with actor V Balakrishnan and written by Gowri Ramnarayan. Jayashri also performed at the MTV Coke Studio(India) Season 1 with Ustad Rashid Khan and Richa Sharma.
Jayashri also conceptualized 'Listening to Life' - A concert that features the journey of a musician as a lover of music.
Cross cultural collaboration
Her quest to interact and experiment with various forms of music has resulted in collaborations with various eminent artistes from around the world. She has sung with Egyptian singer Hisham Abbas and Senegalese singer Thione Seck. In 2008, she was part of an Indo-Finnish venture ‘Red Earth and Pouring Rain’, where she sang Ku?untokai — ancient poems from Sangam literature - with Avanti, a Philharmonic Orchestra from Finland and set to music by Eero Hämeenniemi. In 2012, she sang the poetry of Mirza Ghalib composed by Eero Hämeenniemi at the Vanta festival, Helsinki.
Jayashri is also a much sought after playback singer and her limited foray into film music has won her the Filmfare award for the popular number 'Vaseegara' for the Tamil film Minnale, thus drawing a new class of listeners into the world of classical music. She sang in Mahesh Dattani's 'Morning Raga' for the music of Amit Heri. She has also sung in various films in Hindi and Malayalam languages.
Jayashri has had the rare opportunity of working with Oscar-winning director Ang Lee, on his motion picture, Life of Pi.Which is nominated for 2013 oscar nomination for Music (Original Song)"Pi's Lullaby" from Life of Pi Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri. She has also composed music for actor Revathi's films 'Verukku Neer' and Kerala Cafe. In 2004, Jayashri composed music for 'Silappadhikaaram' - a dance drama, commissioned by the Cleveland Cultural Alliance.
Passing on an inheritance
In 2001, Jayashri, along with Sanjay Subrahmanyan and T. M. Krishna wrote the book 'Prof. Sambamoorthy, the visionary musicologist', detailing the life and times of Prof.Sambamoorthy - eminent Indian musicologist. The book was published to commemorate his birth centenary. In 2007, Jayashri, T. M. Krishna - leading Carnatic vocalist and Mythili Chandrasekar - Senior Vice President at JWT together wrote the book ‘Voices Within’, - a one-of-a-kind coffee table book that captures the pioneering spirit of 7 of the greatest Carnatic masters of the previous generations.
Jayashri featured in the first full length Carnatic music film ‘Margazhi Ragam’, conceptualized by Director P Jayendra. This was a ground breaking venture that showed Carnatic music in a whole different light. The movie, released in 2008, used the very best and latest technologies for video and sound recording. In her quest to reach music to the next generation, she along with T. M. Krishna and YACM initiated Svanubhava — a week-long Music Festival, exclusively for students of music, which continues to be conducted annually.
Awards and recognition
Nominated for Academy Award for Best Original Song (Oscar) for Pi's Lullaby from Life Of Pi, 2013
"Nada Ratna” award from Nada Sudha, Velachery, 2011
Honorary Doctorate - Degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa), awarded by Mother Theresa Women's University, Kodaikkanal, October 2009
"Sangeetha Saraswathi" from the South Indian Cultural Association (SICA), during its Golden Jubilee Year, 2009.
"Sangeetha Kalasarathy" award from the Vanamamalai Mutt pontiff Kalian Ramanuja Swamigal on behalf of Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, Chennai, 2007.
Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer in 2005.
"Kalaimamani Virudhu" from the Government of Tamil Nadu, 2007.
"Shanmukha Sangeetha Shiromani" from Shanmukhananda Sabha, Bombay, 2006.
"M S Subbulakshmi Puraskar" from Vishaka Music Academy, Vishakapatnam. Conferred By Shri Nedunuri Krishnamurthy, 2006.
Received the prestigious 'Sangeetha Choodamani Award' from Dr. A C Muthiah from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai in the presence of her Guru Lalgudi Jayaraman, 2005
Conferred "Atma Vanishri" from Poojya Shri Shantananda Swami of the Temple of Fine Arts at Varanasi, in the presence Tabla Maestro, Pt. Kishan Maharaj, 2003
'Mani Makudam' by Rajalakshmi Fine Arts, Coimbatore, 2002.
Received the 'Kalki Award' from Cine Director K Balachander, on behalf of the Kalki Krishnamoorthy Trust, 2002.
Filmfare award for the song 'Vaseegara' from the movie Minnale, 2002.
'Naadabhooshanam' by Shanmukhananda Sangeetha Sabha, New Delhi, 2001.
'Asthana Vidhushi' of the Shringeri Mutt, 2001.
Conferred the title of 'Isai Peroli' by Dr. P Chidambaram, Union Minister of Finance, on behalf of the Karthik Fine Arts, in the presence of Music Maestro Balamurali Krishna, 1997.
"Yuvakala Bharati" conferred by Bharat Kalachar, Chennai, 1992.