Jyoti Kamath is a Versatile musician, who performs many genres of Indian clasical, semi-classical and non-classical music. Originially from Goa, her family is now based in Tamil Nadu. Jyoti combines a devotion and musical talent with humility in personality. This written interview was conducted by Archana Verma, with the help of Chitra Manohar, Jyoti's aunt who is also a skillful Vina player and has been a lifelong inspiration and support for Jyoti in her musical pursuits.
In the following interview, questions have been asked by Archana and responses have been given by Jyoti Kamath.
Q – Please tell us something about your early life, how you were inspired to go into singing, the influences on your life, the environment at home which may have contributed towards your becoming a singer.
I was exposed to music right from my childhood as my parents were very much interested in music. Singing devotional songs were very much part of the daily routine. My brothers are musicians; my eldest brother is a violinist and elder one is Mridangist. There was lot of encouragement from parents for developing the skills and I used to participate in lot of competitions held in school and college.
Q – Something about your music teachers, if you regard a few amongst them as the most powerful influences on your singing career - something about your experiences of music learning process.
The most influential was Mrs. R. Vedavalli who is very popular singer and practices traditional classical music. The training under her definitely helped me to mould my career.
The second Guru I would like to mention is the late Sri Tiruvengadu Jayaraman who was instrumental in making me reach the depths of music.
Under the tutelage of Kalaimamani Sikkil Bhaskaran I am continuing my lessons presently as music learning is a journey which never ends.
Q – About the different forms of singing you engage in and how you came to have such a wide-ranging musical practice. Do you follow any particular school of music and do you have any particular individual style of musical practice? Is there any particular form of music which you feel you should engage in more than you have done so far?
I do sing classical Carnatic vocal as well as Abhang and bhajan singing. The former came due to my interest and training which I received but the latter got into my system right from childhood because of the atmosphere at home.
I want to develop and learn more of classical type music.
Q - Given a chance, would you consider film playback singing? In what kind of films? If not, why?
If there is an opportunity, I would definitely take it up but I would like if it is of semi- classical or classical based music.
Q – Did you have to struggle to establish yourself and what kind of struggles did you go through? Would you say that this is a common experience for all musicians in India and how should they approach it? Is it an ongoing struggle?
Though it is a really competitive world, a person’s perseverance and dedication helps him /her to establish and I very much believe in abundant theory and everyone has some opportunity and place if one strives for it.
Q – A few memorable moments in your musical career which you may like to share.
I have been conferred with Gandharva Vidhyadhara and Perumpananangai titles. Recently, I got an opportunity to present a session on abhangs in the most prestigious Music Academy in Chennai, where I could sing in front of the stalwarts of the music fraternity.
Q – Do you see any change over the years in musical training and musicians who go into classical and semi-classical singing career? What are the new trends? What were the old trends that may be disappearing now?
Earlier it was like Gurukula style where the disciples stayed with the Guru. But that has almost disappeared. The training also used to be rigorous and the disciple had to follow certain discipline during these training periods.
Now students are looking for short cuts and even before they learn the nuances they are keen on giving stage performances.
Earlier the training periods were also longer and used to extend for hours together, even the performance used to be for 3-4 hrs which has been reduced these days in most cases to 2 hrs- 21/2 hrs.
Q – For the aspiring musicians, what suggestions would you give? How should they approach this career? Any words of caution for them? Any particular institutions or teachers you may want to suggest for them?
One is, commitment for what is being undertaken, then continuity, improving and learning new techniques and attending concerts of leading musicians as listening is very important and one has to be patient
Q – Anything else you may want to say.
I am happy you have provided an opportunity for this interview. I would wish more and more youngsters will learn classical music first before plunging into any music world as it provides a strong base for everyone.