Vani Jayaram is one of the major female playback singers in India. She has sung songs in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Marathi, Hindi and Kannada. She has thrice won the National Film Awards in play back singing.
Vani Jayaram, one of the greatest singers of our times, claims to have has the ability to sing in a multitude of languages. She has rendered classical songs in Carnatic and Hindustani styles, ghazals, light and pop songs and some very popular folk songs
She was born in Vellore in Tamil Nadu. vani belongs to a family of musicians. Her mother is the disciple of Ranga Ramunaja Iyengar-a great veena artiste. Kadaloor Sreenivasa Iyengar, who taught vani’s sister music, was fascinated by her observation and grasping power. He taught her a few Deekshidar kritis when she was hardly five. The fifth daughter in a family of six daughters and three sons, Vani always secretly yearned for a career in film playback singing. Considered to be a child prodigy, Vani Jairam claims to have recognized the different ragas of Indian classical music before the age of five. Her voice was first heard on All India Radio, Madras, at the age of eight.
Vani Jairam studied Carnatic music under the tutelage of Kadalur Srinivasa Iyengar, T.R. Balasubramanian and R.S. Mani. Her Hindustani light-classical music guru was Ustad Abdul Rahman Khan.
In 1970, she realized her childhood ambition of becoming a film playback singer when the veteran hindi film music director, Vasant Desai chose her voice for the hindi feature film Guddi. She recorded three songs for that film. Bol Re Papi Hara, her song from the film, based on the hindustani raga Miyan Malhar, instantly made her an household name in the different corners of India. The song was awarded Tansen Samman (for best classical-based song in a hindi film,) The Lions International Best Promising Singer, The All India Cinegoers Association, and the All India Film-goers Association awards for the Best Playback Singer in 1971. Vani recorded her first tamil song for the tamil film Thaiyum Seiyum, for S.M.Subbaiah Naidu, in the year 1973.
"It's God's gift ... Ilaiyaraja would call me a computer ... and the Oriya film composer Prafullakar, whose innumerable compositions I have sung, would always be amazed at the way I could pick up the tune, pronunciation and diction all in one go ... " Vani reminisces as she sings an Oriya number for you. It is not for nothing that she was the top singer in Oriya cinema for 11 years. "And how can I forget MSV or Shankar Ganesh who have encouraged me so much here, or L. Krishnan or Jwala Prasad in Delhi?" Again composer K. V. Mahadevan would often state that Vani could handle any kind of song, however tough, with absolute ease. That Kannadasan had placed her on a pedestal is there in his book for all to see. "I was touched when he told me that I was the only singer he devoted a whole chapter to," she recalls.
The awesome statistics of having sung 8,000 film songs in 14 languages, beginning with "Guddi," the recognition on the highest platforms and the compliments that continue to come from many an eminent quarter, sit lightly on Vani. "I take care of every thing in the household myself," she says, as she takes you round her aesthetically done up apartment on Haddows Road. The art pieces on the walls, the various awards adorning the racks, the old black and white photographs of people who have been close to her and the neatly arranged books on the rack, convey a lot about the persons occupying it. Jairam, her husband, is a connoisseur himself and a solid and silent support, you could make out.
Besides Hindi and Tamil, Vani Jairam has numerous recordings in other languages of India. These include, Gujarati, Marathi, Marwari, Hariyanvi, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Oriya, Bengali and Tulu. For her work in these languages she has been awarded many prestigious awards, among which are: Best Female Playback Singer for states of Gujarat (1975), Tamil Nadu (1980) and Orissa (1984).
Vani Jairam was chosen for the Indian President's National Award for Best Female Playback Singer of 1975, for her work in M.S. Viswanathan's Aboorva Ragangal (Tamil). Her songs in the Pt. Ravi Shankar scored film Meera brought her the Film World (1979) Cine Herald (1979) and Filmfare (1980) awards for Best Playback Singer in Hindi. Shankarabharanam (Telugu), the film scored by K.V. Mahadevan, gave Vani Jairam her second National Award as Best Playback Singer of 1980. Once again, she was awarded her third National Award for Best Playback Singer of 1991 for K.V. Mahadevan's Swathi Kiranam. She is also the youngest artiste to be awarded the Sangeet Peet Samman. Vani Jayaram is one of the major female playback singers in India. She has sung songs in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Marathi, Hindi and Kannada. She has thrice won the National Film Awards in play back singing.