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She Sang For India

How M.S. Subbulakshmi

Used Her Voice for Change



Farrar Straus Giroux

(pub.11.8.2022) 40 pages

Author: Suma Subramaniam

Illustrator: Shreya Gupta

Character: M.S. Subbulakshmi


" Before M.S. Subbulakshmi was a famous Carnatic singer and the first Indian woman to perform at the United Nations, she was a young girl with a prodigious voice.

But Subbulakshmi was not free to sing everywhere. In early 1900s India, girls were not allowed to perform for the public. So Subbulakshmi busted barriers to sing at small festivals. Eventually, she broke tradition to record her first album. She did not stop here. At Gandhi's request, Subbulakshmi sang for India’s freedom. Her fascinating odyssey stretched across borders, and soon she was no longer just a young prodigy. She was a woman who changed the world."

Tantalizing taste:

" She became friends with other women attending the conference. With their encouragement, she traveled to nearby towns by train, bus, and bullock cart. Everywhere, she was the only woman among the singers. And she was never offered the best time slot to perform.

Her path was long, but Subbulakshmi was determined. After every song, she bowed, and in her smile, the audience saw a glimmer of her strength."

And something more: Author Suma Subramaniam's letter to the reader explains that "M.S. Subbulakshmi's life [1916-2004] is an example of how a small-town girl with a great devotion to her craft realized her dream. In her time, it was rare for a woman to make a mark in the world. I wrote this story because through this astounding human being's life, we can learn that the ability to heal ourselves and the world is within us."


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