Shri Thethakudi Hanhara (Vikku) Vinayakram
Shri Thethakudi Hanhara Vinayakram (famously known as Vikku Vinayakram) is a world renowned Indian percussionist who is credited with popularizing the ghatam. It is his single-hannded effort that led to the ghatam, an instrument which was seldom given importance in Indian percussion, being now featured in world music.
Shri Vinayakram was born 11 August, 1942 in Thiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, to Shri Thethakudi Harihara Sarma and Smt. Neelambal. His father, a well-known percussionist himself, was his first guru. After learning from his father for one year, he gave his first public performance at the tender age of 13 in Shri Dakshinamurthy temple, Chennai. His reputation increased when he accompanied the likes of Shri Ariaykudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Shri Semmangudi Srinivase Iyer, Flut Mali Dr. Balamuralikrishna, and Shri Chembai Vaidhyanadha Bhagavathar. He also played with great percussionists like Shri Palakkad Mani Iyer and Shri Palani Subramaniya Pillai. In the cine field he has played for Shri M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavather and Shri T.R. Mahalingam. He has also worked with legendary music directors like G. Ramanathan, C.N. Pandurangan, K.V. Mahdevan, M.S. Viswanathan, Illayarajaand A.R. Rahman.
Shri Vinayakram's first overseas performance was in 1966 when he accompanied Bharat Ratna Smt. M.S. subbulakshmi in the unforgettable concert at the United Nations Organization in New York. Since then he has toured widely across Europe, America, the Middle East and Asia. He has also undertaken a musical tour under the auspices of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and the Sangeeth Natak Academy.
In 1974, he was invited as a gust lecturer to teach music at the Centre for World Music in Berkeley California. In the 1970s, he joined Shakti, a group which combined elements of traditional Indian music with jazz. The band consisted of English guitarist John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain (tabla), and L.Shankar (violin). It merged Indian music with western music and entralled music lovers everywhere. He also represented Indian in Planet Drum, an album created by Mickey Hart to show rhythm from a variety of musical genres.
Shri Vinaykram is serving as the pricipal of a percussion school, Shri Jaya Ganesh Tala Vadhya Vidhyalaya, Triplicane, Chennai. It was founde by his father Shri Harihara Sarma. This school teaches percussion free to enthusiasts and under-privileged students. Many accomplished artists like Karaikudi Mani and Ghatam Sukanya Ramgopal have attended this school. Shri Vianyakram himself was a student.
Spanning six decades of service to Indian music, Shri Vinayakram is the only musician to have received awardsfrom four different Presidents of India - Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Hon. R. Venkatraman, Hon K.R. Narayanan, and Hon. Pranab Mukherjee. The Sangeetha Natak Academy conferred a fellowship award on him and he was awarded the prestigious Padmashree in 2002.
He is the recipient of many awards and titles, some of which are the Ghatam Nada Mani award from the Kanchi Samigal Kalamamani by the government of Tamil Nadu, a Grammy Award from the USA (the first and only winner for South Indian classical music) the Sangeetha Natak Academy Award recognizing Ghatam, the Ustad Amjad Ali Khan award and the Tala Ratna award by Zakir Hussain.
Early life and background
Selvaganesh was born in Chennai to Grammy-winner T.H. "Vikku" Vinayakram, a legendary musician and also a former member of the original Shakti. He is also the grandson of Sri T. R. Harihara Sarma, who founded the Sri Jaya Ganesh Tala Vadya Vidyalaya (Sri JGTV school) in Chennai. Selvaganesh had his initial training at his grandfathers school and then under his uncle, Ghatam Vidwan Shri T H Subashchandran. one of the leading musicians in the world of rhythm. Thumping into the musical world at an age as tender as 10, Selvaganesh has been mesmerizing the audience with his immaculate style and innate creativity. Selvaganesh is one of the leading musicians in the world of rhythm. He has been mesmerizing the audience with his immaculate style and innate creativity. Born into a family of musicians, it is no wonder that rhythm flows in his blood, which remains inseparable
Selvaganesh’s tryst with the international music platform came in the early 90s in Masters of Percussion along with his Zakir’s father Ustad Alla Rakha and late 90's when he joined Shakti to play along with John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain. The showman that he is, his long hair and nimble fingers had Shakti catapult to fame.
Apart from playing authentic Carnatic Music, he has performed in many Fusion, Jazz, Blues, Flamenco, Symphony Orchestra, Celtic Music, Latin Music, DJ Music, World Music, Talavadya (Percussion Ensemble) and Jugalbandhi concerts and has been part of numerous International Music Festivals with renowned Indian Musicians like Dr L Shankar, Dr.L.Subramaniam, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, He has also worked with many leading music directors in India.
He has performed at the prestigious Venue – Carnegie Hall in the US along with Sh T H Vikku Vinayakram and Ustad Zakir Hussain
He was a child prodigy, with his concert career beginning at the age of 10. He established his right to be on the stage by playing with such dexterity that he was soon accompanying many famous vocalists in Carnatic music at the time, including Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna, , M. S. Subbulakshmi and others.
Selvaganesh gained world fame through tours with John McLaughlin's group Remember Shakti. He helps his father, Grammy-winner T.H. "Vikku" Vinayakram, to run the Sri JGTV school and train a new generation of percussionists. He has also composed and produced albums, and played with the Swedish bass virtuoso Jonas Hellborg and American guitar player Shawn Lane.
His debut international solo album, Soukha was released in 2006 featuring all other regular members of Remember Shakti including John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, U. Srinivas and Shankar Mahadevan, as well as sitar player Niladri Kumar and Selvaganesh's father T.H. "Vikku" Vinayakram. He has also formed a new group called dr JSM, with the UK-based Goan songwriter/producer dr.Joel and the young Carnatic singer Mahesh. Their Indo-Celtic album entitled Turn on the dreams was released in the UK in 2005. He performed in the Prestigious United Nations day in New York in 2009.
He has composed Rythm for Mira Nair’s movies Vanity Fair and the Monsoon Wedding
While the kanjeera appears to be a simple instrument, in the hands of Selvaganesh, it produces a surprisingly large palette. “He has transformed the sound and identity of his instrument—he makes that thing sound like a huge drum kit—and all the actual playing is done with one hand.”
It is somehow fitting that the oldest instrument in the band is responsible for creating an almost techno vibe; the constant bell-like jangle of the kanjeera brings to mind the warp-speed jungle-groove of drum-and-bass music.
His latest venture is in the field of Indian Film Music. His debut music for a regional language film “Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu” is already a super hit. He has composed for a few more and had got a name for himself. Adding feather to the cap is his Filmi work in the Telugu Movie industry as well, wherein his first movie was a musical hit and is in the process of composing a few more.