Monday, November 11, 2013

K.B. Sundarambal

K.B. Sundarambal
13⅜" x 6",
oil on wood, 2013
Re-listening to nominated songs, researching their performers, looking for images, and preparing some boards to paint on; the production of a hundred paintings for the music year 2013 has started in earnest. This weekend I painted the Indian star K.B. Sunderambal. Small as it is, I spent a good number of hours on it. I stumbled upon a recording of Sundarambal on the blog Bodega Pop. The song Pazhari Mali Medi comes from a cd called Kalathil Azhiyatha Kariyam(The Film Hits of K.B. Sundarambal). It was recorded in 1969 for the film Thunaivan. K.B. (Kodumudi Balambal) Sundarambal was born in 1908 in Erode, Tamil Nadu, in South India. She grew up in poverty apparently singing for a handouts in trains when she was a little girl. It was in a train she was discovered and she made her theater debut at age 19, starting a long and successful career that led to her nickname "The Queen of the Indian Stage" (source: Wikipedia). Pazhari Mali Medi is with 2:41 a relatively short song when it comes to Indian cinema. The first 30 or 40 seconds is where it's at. Those precious seconds features her unaccompanied voice. At age 61 her voice is as strong and passionate as you'll ever hear. Then the tablas and sitar come in, the voice lines repeat themselves before the song is interrupted by a short dialogue from the film. The song picks up again into an  intense crescendo. Sundarambal was politically active, became the first film personality to enter a state legislature in India. She died in 1980.

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