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About our artist: Ms. Mandavilli Lakshmi.
 
Ms. Mandavilli Lakshmi
Ms. Mandavilli Lakshmi

A MUSICAL SOJOURN

Every Wednesday, the Trimurthika Venkateswara temple at Seetammadhara wears a festive look with crowds pouring in for that mesmerising event when the temple complex reverberates with Annamayya Keertanas sung by more than 50 people. It's the same on Mondays at the Venkateswara temple at MVP Colony as well. Surprisingly, several of the participants of the event are not experts in Carnatic music! Neither do they have a strong grip on the nuances of the great music stream. Still, they sing with Úlan as if they were born with the gift of singing Carnatic ragas. Try to get behind this surprising skill of these amateur singers, and there is one name that keeps coming back to you. That of Mandavilli Lakshmi, popularly known as Sangeeta Lakshmi. 

Mandavilli Lakshmi who started as a shy lass from Vizianagaram with an inclination for music from childhood, is now in the 23rd year of a rare musical journey that is gaining momentum by the day. Gifted with a good voice, young Lakshmi used to sing classical notes with much ease. The veena lessons from Madepalli Narsing Rao for eight years only enhanced her singing skills before she turned to classical music. However, Annamayya Keertanas brought her much recognition among the musician fraternity. The decision to distribute what she gained to others saw her starting classes in Annamayya Keertanas through her organisation Amritavarshini. Today, she has over 400 students ranging from five-year-olds to 60-year-olds.

Ms. Lakshmi receives award from Film actor Mr. Chiranjeevi
Ms. Lakshmi receives award
from Film actor Mr. Chiranjeevi

About many of her pupils possessing no basic knowledge of classical music, she says, "nothing is impossible if one has the commitment to learn". An ardent believer of Annamayya, Ms. Lakshmi says: "All the 'navarasas' of 'bhava' (emotions) are well depicted in the saint-poet's works. Chanting hymns gives confidence, inner peace, alleviates depression and above all, gives the feeling of oneness with God."

In the last two decades, Ms. Lakshmi has won many accolades in India and abroad for her music. She was felicitated with the Best President Award of Lion's Club in 1981while the Inner Wheel Club of Visakhapatnam felicitated her for her contributions on International Women's Day in 2003. Ms. Lakshmi was also invited by the Singapore Telugu Samajam (STS) along with other organisations like the Telugu Association of Malaysia (TAM), Telugu Association of North America (TANA) and American Telugu Association (ATA), to perform in Singapore on the occasion of the 5th World Telugu Federation Conference. The list goes on with several titles such as 'Ganakokila', 'Golden Head' and 'Ganavidvanmani' and even an Ugadi Puraskar.

If music really heals, then Ms. Lakshmi has brought more than mere solace to many a distressed heart.

You can now contact Ms. Mandavilli Lakshmi at sangeethalakshmi9@yahoo.co.in


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