Published: 08th December 2021
I always wanted to be a teacher: Singer KS Chithra on life beyond 25,000 songs and teaching music online
Chithra had been conducting offline classes for a while. When COVID struck, it all shifted online. This is how life has been
In the late 1970s when a young KS Chithra walked into the University of Kerala, she says that her goal was to be a teacher. But it was something that always seemed to be "a few years down the line". She had always had a soothing voice and had been training in Carnatic music under her teacher Dr K Omanakkutty. But as luck may have it, she happened to record for a song composed by musician MG Radhakrishnan, who also happened to be the younger brother of Omanakkutty.
There was no turning back. She then went on to record a song with Malayalam singer KJ Yesudas and was then noticed by composer Ilaiyaraaja because she "had a fresh voice." "I accepted all the good and bad things that came my way," she tells us. Forty years, 25,000 songs over various languages, multiple collaborations and awards including the Padma Bhushan (which she had received a few weeks ago), we sat down with us, when she had signed up with Artium Academy, a Mumbai based start-up to teach music online.
"I always loved teaching. My parents are both teachers," says Chithra, who says that if not for the recording session with Radhakrishnan, she would have been a music teacher in a school or a college in Kerala. However, she believes that she still has a lot to learn. "I have trained in Carnatic music only for seven years. I still have a lot to learn. I didn't get enough time owing to my career."
This is not Chithra's first stint in teaching for she had been conducting offline classes for a while. When COVID struck, it all shifted online. But the transition, she says was imperative. "I am not tech-savvy at all. So, my brother would set up the device at my home and then he told me that I must just click a button. I didn't know that it was this simple," she says.
Even though technical glitches do appear at times, Chithra says that it doesn't frustrate her. "After all, I am still learning. I have been learning songs that other singers have sung, to teach my students. That is quite exciting," she says. While Artium's classes are yet to begin, she says that usually, her students are children. "I love to teach and spend time with them. That imparts a sort of positivity in life," she says. It is almost impossible to spot the singer without a smile on her face. She says, "This is how I am. I remember, my mother telling me that girls should not smile all the time and that it would bring a bad name. But I would end up smiling even at people whom I don't know," she laughs.