Thodur Madabusi Krishna’s three-initialled renown as ‘TMK’ comes from his widely acknowledged stature as a vocalist in the Karnatik tradition. His musicality eludes standard analyses. Uncommon in his rendition of music and original in his interpretation of it, Krishna is at once strong and subtle, manifestly traditional and stunningly innovative.
He studied at the Krishnamurti Foundation’s The School in Chennai, and Jiddu Krishnmurti’s philosophy of ‘pathlessness’ has unmistakably influenced Krishna’s un-preconditioned journeys over the Karnatik continent. Krishna’s musical grounding was honed into mastery under the tutelage of Vidvans Seetharama Sarma, Chingleput Ranganathan and the legendary Semmangudi Srinivasier.
Krishna’s pen is sharp, his words blunt. He is a public speaker and writer on human choices, dilemmas, concerns and matters musical. He has started and is involved in organisations whose work is spread across the whole spectrum of art and culture including research, documentation, education, activism and supports artists from economically and socially marginalised communities. He is Adjunct Professor at Chennai Mathematical institute, where he curates and conducts a course on art, aesthetics and socio-cultural contexts. He has co-authored Voices Within: Carnatic Music – Passing on an Inheritance, a book dedicated to the greats of Karnatik music. His most recent book, A Southern Music, published by Harper Collins in December 2013, is a first-of-its-kind work on the Carnatic tradition and was awarded the Tata Literature award for the best debut non-fiction book for the year 2014. He has received the Ramon Magsayay Award (2016) for his forceful commitment as artist and advocate to art’s power to heal India’s deep social divisions, breaking barriers of caste and class.