Women in Carnatic Music




Shankar, Rupasri

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Carnatic music traces its roots back to the ancient traditions of South India. This ancient art form has undergone the most musical and social transformation over the last few hundred years. Particularly in the realm of gender politics in India, South Indian classical music has seen a renaissance of emerging female artists over the last century. The interest of this paper is in the particular moment in history where the cultural constructs of India made it possible for women to break through barriers and emerge as eminent, sought-after artists in classical music. The emergence of female artists and the growing voice of women in gender politics issues in India during the early 20th century is a phenomenon that must have some explanation. Thus, the main research areas of this paper are, first, to establish the political and social environment of postcolonial India in which the female voice became respected in the classical arts. Second, this paper aims to understand how the female rise to popularity in the 20th century impacted the state of gender dynamics in Carnatic music in the 21st century, especially through the lens of the #MeToo movement. Finally, these research areas aim to answer one overarching question: What was the journey of the female voice in Carnatic music?


LCSH Subject Headings