M. Venkatesh Kumar
|Born||1 July 1953|
|Origin||Bellary, Karnataka, India|
|Genres||Hindustani classical music, Dasara Pada, devotional songs|
|Years active||1970 - present|
Pandit M. Venkatesh Kumar was born in 1 July 1953 in Lakshmipura in the Bellary region of northern Karnataka. He is a Hindustani vocalist, best known for his rendition of devotional songs composed by the Haridasas.
Early life and musical training
Venkatesh Kumar's father late Huleppa was a folk singer and a leather puppeteer. In 1968, when he was 12 years old, Venkatesh Kumar was taken by his uncle Belagallu Veeranna to the Veereshwara Punyashrama in Gadag, run by the Veerashaiva saint and Hindustani musician, Puttaraj Gawai. Kumar lived and learned Hindustani vocal in the Gwalior and Kirana styles under Gawai at the ashram for the next 12 years. Kumar blends these styles in his presentations, though he admits to influences beyond these gharanas, chief among them being Bade Ghulam Ali Khan of the Patiala gharana. His guru was also trained in Carnatic music, and as a result, there are traces of Carnatic elements – especially in his sargam patterns – in Pandit Kumar's music
Kumar got his first break in 1993, 14 years after he left the ashram. He received a telegram-invitation from Bhimsen Joshi to perform at the Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav in Pune that year. However, he had to wait for almost another ten years before he became a regular on the national festival circuit. Since then he has featured in many national musical programs, and has been an "A" grade artist of All India Radio since 1988.
In devotional music, Kumar is most acclaimed for his Kannada vachana and dasara pada singing. He also has multiple devotional and classical CD albums to his credit.
As a teacher, Venkatesh Kumar started his teaching career in Vijay Mahantesh Arts College near Gadag for one and half years. He had also taught in Mukunda Kripa in Udupi.
He received a post graduate degree in music from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya. He has authored the text book of music prescribed for the examination conducted by the government of Karnataka.
Kumar held a teaching job at the University College of Music, Dharwad, for 33 years. This commitment regularly forced him to turn down concerts, but he refused to quit the job that offered him stability at a time when concerts were hard to come by. He retired from the job in 2015.
He is the recipient of several titles such as
1. Karnataka Rajyotsava Award (1999)
2. Karnataka Sangeet Natya Academy Award (2007)
3. Vatsala Bhimsen Joshi Award (2008)
4. Krishna Hangal Award (2009)
5. Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (2012)
6. Honorary Doctorate from Karnataka University, Dharwad (2014)
7. Padma Shri Award by the Government of India (2016)