P. Unnikrishnan (born 9 July 1968) is a Carnatic vocalist and a national award winning playback singer.
Early life and background
Unnikrishnan was born to K. Radhakrishnan and Dr. Harini Radhakrishnan in Palakkad, Kerala.The family home, Kesari Kuteeram, was a well known landmark of Madras city, with great grandfather Dr KN Kesari being an eminent Ayurvedic physician and the promoter of the popular Telugu women's magazine Gruhalakshmi .
He went to Asan Memorial Senior Secondary School, Chennai, in 1983. He graduated from Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda College, Chennai, and received his B.Com degree from the Madras University. He earned a General Law and Post Graduate Diploma in Personnel Management and Industrial Relations.
He worked as an executive in Parrys Confectionery Ltd. from 1987 to 1992 and quit his job to become a professional singer.
Unnikrishnan was initiated into Carnatic Music at age of 12 by Seshadri, Unnikrishnan. He was inspired by Sangita Kalanidhi Dr. S. Ramanathan.He attended a special workshop for six months on "Veena Dhanammal Bhani" under Sangeetha Kalanidhi T.Brinda and Sangeetha Kalanidhi Dr.T.Vishwanathan.
He is a national award winning playback singer for his debut film song "Ennavale Adi Ennavale". The song was composed by A. R. Rahman, with whom Unni Krishnan gave most of his memorable songs. He is one of the permanent judges in the reality television show AIRTEL Super Singer on Vijay TV in both the seasons (2006, 2008 & 2010-2011) and 2008 Idea Star Singer on Asianet.Unnikrishnan is also becoming known for his experimental work. In 2008, he presented a novel jazz concert in Trivandrum with the Eli Yamin Jazz Quartet and pianist Anil Srinivasan.He prefers singing classical songs to movies.
"Carnatic music has grown to a great extent. The taste of the audience has changed with time. Youngsters have developed a taste for the music form and the number of people flocking to these concerts has increased by leaps and bounds. There is novelty in the genre.”
"The nuances of Carnatic music may be difficult for a layman to understand but music lovers today are willing to put in the effort to enjoy the music. I have seen youngsters talking about this form of music with enthusiasm. People take time off their busy schedules to come and listen to us artistes. So, it’s our responsibility to ensure that they enjoy the music. Even in reality shows, we ask the contestants to develop a taste for Carnatic music so that they can perform better in light music”.
Unni Krishnan is married to Priya, a Bharathanatyam and Mohiniyattam dancer. They were married on November 1996 and have a son named Vasudev Krishna and a daughter named Uthra. Vasudev Krishna was born in 27 May 2000 and Uthra was born in 11 June 2004. He is passionate about cricket and is a member of the Madras Cricket Club and Life Member of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association. and he is the great grand son of Dr KN Kesari.
He is the recipient of many honours and Awards which include Kalaimamani from the Government of Tamilnadu, Best Raaga award from Music Academy, Yuvakala Bharati from Bharat Kalachar. He received the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for his first song Ennavale in 1994 (Kadhalan). He was the first singer to get the Best Male singer National award for a Tamil song. Krishnan is also the recipient of Isai Peroli Award instituted by Kartik Fine Arts for the year 1998. He was awarded "Isai Peroli" "Yuva Kala Barathi" "Nada Bhushanam" and the title "KaLaimamani" by the Govt. of TamilNadu. Krishnan is an "A" grade artist of the All India Radio and has given a number of concerts all over India, U.S.A, The Middle East, The United Kingdom, The Far East, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Krishna assisted his guru Sri Seetharama Sharma in many of his composing projects, including musical operas like The Ramayana (presented in The Reunion Islands in 1993), orchestra presentations and choir presentations. Krishna also toured Singapore in 2001 to compose and conduct the orchestra of the Singapore Fine Arts Society supported by a grant from the National Arts Council of Singapore.
Krishna is known for his resonant voice and strict adherence to classicism. He is widely considered to be the most prominent young male carnatic vocalist with a great depth in knowledge His concerts are usually marked by an electrifying performance and a deeply moved audience.
Krishna has featured in the Carnatic Concert Movie, Margazhi Raagam along with Bombay Jayashri in 2008.
He has given numerous lecture demonstrations on various facets of Carnatic music and its history at important institutions. He is presently working on audio archiving the Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini, a musical treatise of very great importance and significance in relation to the compositions of Muthuswami Dikshitar.
In 1998, Krishna, along with musicians Vijay Siva and Dr Sunder, authored the first ever Carnatic music appreciation album titled "Learning to Appreciate Carnatic Music". In 2001, along with musician Bombay Jayashree and Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Krishna authored a book on Prof Sambamoorthy, an Indian musicologist of international repute, to commemorate his birth centenary.
In 2007, he co-authored and published a book with Bombay Jayashri titled "Voices Within", the first coffee-table book of its kind, on the legends of Carnatic music. Krishna contributes articles to various publications and websites regarding art, culture, and socio-political issues as well as to his own website.
Krishna is a co-founder of Jnanarnava Trust, an organisation devoted to the research, documentation and archival of the ancient traditions in Carnatic music. (www.jnanarnava.org). He initiated Kalachara Marumalarchi, an organization dedicated to the revival of cultural activities in the interior towns and villages of Tamil Nadu, India and to rejuvenate the function of the temples as cultural hubs. He is also the cofounder of Sumanasa Foundation, an organization to promote Carnatic music and musicians in and around rural areas by sponsoring upcoming musicians. He also co-founded 'SWANUBHAVA', a week long Carnatic music festival which provides a medium for Young Carnatic Musicians to interact with senior artists in the form of lec-dems and Concerts, along with Bombay Jayashree.