The prolific singer, who sang predominantly in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam as well as in Hindi, showed a natural tendency towards music from an early age. S. P. Balasubrahmanyam (SPB) was born in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh on June 4, 1946. His father, late S. P. Sambamurthy, was a Harikatha artiste and perhaps SPB picked up the nuances from there. He also, time and again, spoke about being influenced by Mohammed Rafi and considered him as his guru. He revered the way Rafi brought alive the feelings contained in the songs and confessed to emulating him. The other singer he held in high esteem was Yesudas. In fact, in 2016, SPB had organised a padapuja in honour of Yesudas.
He has the rare distinction of rendering the most songs on a single day by any singer. He recorded 21 songs in Kannada for the composer Upendra Kumar in Bangalore from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm on February 8, 1981. He also recorded 19 songs in Tamil, 16 songs in Hindi in a day which is also a notable achievement. He reportedly had absolutely no formal tuition in Carnatic music. But had such a good ear for it that he was able to pick up on the subtleties without any hindrance. Director K Vishwanath’s superhit Shankarabharanam secured a National Award for Balasubrahmanyam his first, in 1979. All six songs in the film were classical. Such was the case even with Ganayogi Panchakshari Gawai (1995), the Kannada film based on the life of the blind Hindustani music visionary Panchakshari Gawai. He initially refused to do the project but later won a National Award for it.
FILMFARE AWARDS FOR SPB
BEST PLAYBACK SINGER (MALE) SONG: DIL DEEWANA FILM: MAINE PYAR KIYA (HINDI 1989)
SPECIAL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO MUSIC (1986)
BEST FILM (TELUGU) (SUBHA SANKALPAM 1995)
BEST PLAYBACK SINGER (MALE) SONG: ADIGADIGO BHADRAGIRI FILM: SRI RAMADASU (TELUGU 2006)
BEST PLAYBACK SINGER (MALE) SONG: KANNAL PESUM PENNE FILM: MOZHI (TAMIL 2007)
BEST PLAYBACK SINGER (MALE) SONG: GHARANE GHARA GHARANE FILM: AAPTHA RAKSHAKA (KANNADA 2010)
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