Lakshmi Shankar (born 1926) is a Hindustani classical vocalist of the Patiala Gharana, and is one of the foremost and well-known vocalists of India. She is known for her performances of khyal, thumri, and bhajans. She’s also recorded Tamil folk songs, Hindu devotional songs of all sorts, film work (including the soundtrack to Gandhi) and for television documentaries.
Born in 1926, Lakshmi started her career in dancing. In 1939, when Uday Shankar brought his dance troupe to Madras, (recently renamed Chennai), she joined the Almora Centre to learn Uday Shankar’s dance style based on the Indian classics. She married the scriptwriter Rajendra Shankar, an elder brother of the famous sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, and became a part of Uday Shankar’s artistic circle during the early ’40s.
Ill health forced Lakshmi to give up dancing, but since she already had a background in music, she started learning Hindustani classical music under Ustad Abdul Rehman Khan. Later, she also trained with her brother-in-law Ravi Shankar.
The magic of her rich, melodious voice, her sense of proportion and the emotional content of her singing are some of the qualities that have made her one of the foremost and most popular vocalists since the last fifty years.
Related: Meerabai the Poet
She first performed outside India in 1962-63, in the US, Canada and Europe with Uday Shankar, as a vocalist and director of the ballet orchestra, helping to popularize Indian vocal music in the west.
I never worry about criticism for critics have a right to give their honest opinion. Besides, I welcome it, as long as it is not biased, for it helps me to correct myself. My music helps me to acquire this serenity for it is to me something divine in which I can lose myself. Through my bhajan compositions, I try to infuse devotion, for devotion is an important element to draw the listeners to music and to render it emotionally effective. I am grateful to God and the public for whatever I have achieved although I know there is no end to one’s accomplishments.