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Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar was an Indian Carnatic music singer from the state of Kerala. Usually known by his village name Chembai, or simply as Bhagavatar, he was born to Anantha Bhagavatar and Parvati Ammal in 1895. Chembai was noted for his powerful voice and majestic style of singing. His first public performance was in 1904, when he was nine. He was a recipient of several titles and honours in his performing career of 70 years (1904-1974). He was known for his encouragement of upcoming musicians, and also for his ability to spot new talent. He was responsible for popularizing compositions like Rakshamam, Pavana Guru, among others.The music critic 'Aeolus' describes him as "the musician who has meant the most to Carnatic Music in the first fifty years of the 20th century" Some of his prominent disciples include Yesudas, T.V.Gopalakrishnan, V.V.Subramaniam, P.Leela, among others. Memorial music festivals are held in his honour annually since his death in 1974.


He could do a niraval and swaraprastara from any given point (a view attested by his disciples), which bespoke of mental alertness in a concert. His empathy for his accompanists and disciples was noteworthy and he would go to great lengths to encourage them. Chembai's music had a direct appeal to his listeners. According to Mr. B.V.K.Sastri, musicologist, "The deep solid tone seeming to illuminate such model figure in his singing and the joy of the pure nada when he held on to single notes are something not easily forgotten." To Chembai, the main factors that contributed to the development of a musical personality were the intuition of the musician, his sound knowledge of ragas and swaras and firm control of sruti and laya and the capacity to evolve an individual style of expression suited to one's voice and aptitude and ideas distilled through the variegated experience behind him.

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