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smita bellurSmita Bellur Hindustani Classical Vocalist

"Kabira Kiya Kutch Na Hote Hai, Ankiya Sab Hoye,
Jo Kiya Kutch Hote Hai, Karta Aur Koye"

"Jyon Naino Mein Putli, Tyon Maalik Ghat Mahin,
Moorakh Log Na Janhin, Baahar Dhudhan Jahin" 

- Kabir

Wise men have said that man is but a medium of expression for the work of the Creator. 

I am happy to be the chosen instrument for the music of the Infinite Intelligence.


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Profile

Smita Bellur was initiated into Hindustani classical vocal music in the Khayal Style, at the age of 12 by her guru late Shri. P. R. Bhagwat, a renowned musician and recipient of the Sangeet Natak Academy award.
After the demise of Shri. Bhagwat, she started learning from ‘Sangeet Ratna’, late Pt. Arjunsa Nakod, a doyen of the Gwalior – Kirana Gharana, training under him for few years. Smita is a ‘Senior Diploma’ in classical vocal music from Prayag Sangeet Samiti – Allahabad, has been under the guidance of late Pt. Rajabhau Sontakke (disciple of the legendary Sangeet Martand Pt. Omkarnath Thakur) for higher education in music. She has also been taught by Pt. Bhalachandra Nakod.
Currently, she is getting ‘taleem’ from ‘Gaan Saraswati’, ‘Sangeet Kaumudi’ Vidushi Dr. Alka Deo Marulkar.

She has also founded a NGO Nadanubhava Foundation® – an organization that promotes Hindustani Classical and Sufi music that has successfully done more than 70 programmes. She also runs ‘People for Raaga’ and ‘Anhaad Naad Sufi Sangeet’.Smita is actively involved in the nationwide co-operative of performing artistes, ‘Sangeet Sankalp’ as one of the founder members of its Bangalore chapter.
She teaches for Shankar Mahadevan Academy and also in guru-shishya parampara. She has trained over 40 students.

She is a MS (Quality management), and BE by qualification and also freelances as a music journalist.


Press Comments
  • “She plays music for the soul – The New Indian Express, Oct 2012
  • “The old strains of Sufi – Deccan Herald, Jun 2012
  • “Exploring common threads of pholisophy – Indian Express, Sep 2011
  • “Music for the Soul” – DNA, Apr 2011
  • “Striking a chord with the masses..Presenting carefully selected verses in her melodious voice, Smita stole the show and enthralled the audience with her scintillating performance – Deccan Herald, April 2011
  • “Poetry from Another Dimension - Deccan Chronicle, Mar 2011
  • “In Love with Hindustani Music - Dainik Jagran City Plus, Sep 2010
  • “Lilting Melody – Deccan Herald, Jan 2009
  • “A piece of Hindustani – Deccan Herald, July 2008
  • “Graceful Alliance…Her voice traversed the three octaves with ease, dazzling the audience. The synchronisation was perfect, thereby enhancing the euphonious appeal. – The Hindu, Feb 2008
  • “An evening of Jugalbandhi..credit goes to both singers who maintained the style of the system and their individual styles even while singing together – The New Indian Express, Aug 2007
  • “Melody Makers – Deccan Herald, Mar 2007
  • “Carving a niche in the realm of Classical music” – Indian Express, Mar 2007
  • “In pursuit of excellence” – Deccan Herald, Mar 2007
  • “Sing Nightingale, Dance with joy Nightingale” – Kannada Prabha, Mar 2007 (translated)
  • More...

Recitals/Concerts and Achievements
A regular B 'High' artiste of All India Radio, Dharwad, I gave my first classical performance at 14 (at Rastrothana Parishat) and since have performed in more than 300 music festivals, including:

  1. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Centenary Year celebrations at The Bhavan
  2. Raj Bhavan, Bangalore
  3. Urs Shareef at Saigon (Hazrat Sadiq Ali Shah)
  4. Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, New Delhi
  5. India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
  6. Bangalore International Center (TERI Initiative)
  7. Infosys Foundation, Bangalore
  8. Guruvarya Kulkarni Punyatithi - Solapur
  9. 67th Shri Thyagaraja Annual Festival of music, Tirupati
  10. Bharat Sangeet Utsav, Bangalore
  11. Sangeet Sankalp Pune – Sudarshan Rang Manch, Pune
  12. Saptak - Ahmedabad
  13. Swar Sadhana Samiti – Mumbai
  14. Pt. Manmohan memorial festival, Jaipur
  15. Parthasarathy Sangeet Sabha – Chennai
  16. Bangalore Habba 2006
  17. Nizar Kala Sansthan, Nagpur
  18. Pt. ShankarRao Gaikwad Punyatithi, Pune
  19. ‘Yuva Vandana’, Sree Satya Sai Baba Ashram, Whitefield Bangalore
  20. Sursagar, Bangalore
  21. Pt. Sawai Gandharv Punyatithi, Kundgol
  22. Kukke Subramanya Temple, Karnataka
  23. Asthavinayak Pratishtaan, Lathur, Maharastra
  24. Delhi Karnatak Sangha
  25. 4th National Level “Bharat Ratna M S Subbulakshmi” Memorial Music Festival - Gitanjali 2009 for Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana University
  26. ‘Adhyapan 2012’ – an international education conference
  27. Pt. Omkarnath Thakur Smriti
  28. Ustad Imammuddin Dagar Music festival, Jaipur
  29. Sree Rama Seva Mandali - Fort High School, Bangalore
  30. Avani Rasika Ranga, Dharwad
  31. Indian Institute of World Culture, Bangalore
  32. Shree Raghavendra Swamy Mutt at Mantralayam, Andhra Pradesh
  33. Dutta Gaana Sabha – Barshi, Maharastra
  34. Nadashri Sangeet Sabha, Hubli
  35. Sangeet Pratishtana, Belgaum
  36. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
  37. SAP CIO conference in Gurgaon, Delhi and Bangalore
  38. Rudrapatna Music festival – Hassan
  39. Govt. of Karnataka, Department of Culture and Kannada music festivals:
    1. ‘Chalukyotsav 2006’ – Aihole- Badami- Pattadkal
    2. ‘Navraspur Utsav 2005’ – Bijapur
    3. ‘Karavalli Utsav’, 2003 – Karwar, 2006 Mangalore
    4. ‘Lakkundi Utsav’ 2006, Gadag
    5. ‘Thingala Sobagu’, ‘Samskrutika Saurabha’ and ‘Yuva Saurabha’ at Gadag, Haveri, Bellary, Bidar and Raichur
More about Smita's recitals...

Awards

  1. Rotary's Vocational Excellence Award 2010
  2. Sangeeta Shri 2007” award by Shraddha Sangeeta Kala Samiti, Bangalore
  3. Dr. Pt. Puttaraj Gawai Kripa Bhushana Prashasti 2007” – Gadag.

Audio CD releases

  1. ‘Shareefara Pada’ – live concert with talk by Dr Gururaj Karajagi – released by Gokhale Institute and Kalkur Audi
  2. ‘Vachana Kirana’ – Shivasharana Vachana by Lahari Audioe
  3. ‘Kaisi Madhur Shyaam’ – Bhajan, Holi, Chaiti CD for the cause of ‘End-Polio’ by Rotary International.

Recordings

  1. Zee Kannada Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Little Champs as a celebrity judge
  2. Special 3 hr broadcast of Krishnashtami programme and Raghavendra Aradhane – Suvarna 24x7
  3. Anwar-e-Ramadaan’ on ETV Urdu - Naat
  4. ‘Bhakti Maalike’ for ETV Kannada
  5. ‘Jashn-e-Sufi’ – special Sufi music programme on TV9
  6. ‘Namana’ – Vachana programme on Suvarna News Kannada
  7. ‘Jugalbandhi’ – musical concert/appreciation 1.5 hour programme on TV9
  8. ‘Naada’ on Udaya TV (Sun TV Network) and Vachana on Kasturi channel
  9. Interviews on Suvarna News, TV 9 and Zee TV Kannada
  10. Doordarshan I/Chandana and Doordarshan Sahyadri
  11. All India Radio, Dharwad

Skills

  1. Hindustani Classical: Khayal gayaki
  2. Semi classical varieties such as thumri, dadra, kajri, chaiti and jhoola.
  3. Sufi music: ‘Jashn-e-Sufi’, ‘Sufiana Kalaam’
  4. Bhaktigeet: Bhajan (Hindi), Abhang (Marathi), Vachana (Kannada) and Daasarapada (Kannada) and a special philosophy based ‘Dasa-Sufi-Sharanara Anubhaava Lahari’
  5. Colours of Diversity: singing in 6-7 languages
  6. Jugalbandhi with Carnatik music (have performed at various Utsavs like Rama Seva Mandali, Rudrapatna Sangeetotsav, Vadirajara aradhane etc)
  7. Lecture demonstrations



  8. My story - how the journey began

    Born to Shri K. L Subba Rao and Smt. Susheela Rao, I am the last of the three children. At the age of 4, my ability to repeat what I had heard on local radio had pleasantly surprised my parents. My first debut on stage in a public platform was at 7, for an inter-school competition in solo vocal singing. The image of a future vocalist was crystallizing in my little mind. While in class 4, I took Carnatik classical music lessons for a brief six months from a teacher nearby. When we relocated to a newer extension Bangalore, my father felt an urgent need to find a good guru who could shape talent.

     He was delighted when he found a revered teacher and Sangeet Natak Academy awardee - Shri P. R. Bhagwat to teach me. After hearing a brief song from me, he deemed me fit for his tutelage and soon started me on a Bhavgeet alongside ‘sa-re-ga-ma’ alankars. At the age of twelve I got a formal initiation into Hindustani classical music in the Khayal system .

    Foundation years

    For nearly six years Shri. P. R. Bhagwat, honed my skills in singing along with the nuances of the Kirana style of singing. Daily classes and intensive coaching gave me a strong foundation of raga, taal and the basic elements of alaap and taankaari. Although I did not reside there, I spent a lot of time in my Guru’s house, listening to classical and semi-classical music, practicing vocal as well as Harmonuim, learning photography, and even an occasional lesson in cookery/gardening (from my guru-ma, whom I fondly called ‘aayi’). In the true spirit of vidyadaan (imparting knowledge without a fee), my guruji bequeathed his invaluable music to me.
    After schooling and pre-university college, it was time to decide what professional training I should take. Engineering tools and drawings had fascinated me from childhood, so I was keen to pursue a course in Engineering. Although artistry and engineering are not commonly pursued together, it evolved as a path that I would take.
    While I was studying engineering at Bangalore, my guruji’s family had to move back to Dharwad. My TV recording for ‘Aralu Mallige’ – a programme for budding artistes had brought me in touch with the Nakod family at about the same time.  I approached the illustrious ‘Sangeet Ratna’, late Pt. Arjunsa Nakod for tutelage.

    Late Pt. ArjunSa Nakod, the doyen of Gwalior – Kirana Gharana, was a disciple of the legendary Ganayogi Pt. Panchakshari Gawai – the blind saint-musician from Gadag. Although he was so knowledgeable and venerable ('A Top' grade artiste of AIR Dharwad), Pt. ArjunSa was a patient, simple and kind guru. In the early days, he traveled to Bangalore to teach students, but later, I began traveling for taleem to Hubli.
    During my years of tutelage under him, I learnt ragas like Rageshri, Bhoop, Chandrakauns, Gorakh Kalyan, and Bihag. It was unfortunate that while I was still learning the nuances of his style of singing, he developed liver cancer and passed away in year 2000.
    Having completed my Bachelors in Engineering, taking up a job, was the natural progression. Quality Assurance was my chosen area, in which I acquired a Certification from the QAI USA and later, a Masters of Science post-graduate degree from BITs Pilani. Working for a software company gave me some important insights into entrepreneurship, people skills, time management and a eye for quality.

    Developing my own style
    After the sad demise of Senior Pt. Nakod, I started training under his son, Pt. Bhalachandra Nakod at Hubli and also did a brief stint of light music training with Shri. Vishwanath Nakod.
    I also took guidance from Pt. Rajabhau Sontakke from for a year, while doing my ‘Senior Diploma’ from Prayag Sangeet Samiti – Allahabad. Late Pt. Sontakke was a direct disciple of the legendary Sangeet Martand Pt. Omkarnath Thakur, and I learnt various nuances about Purya, Purya-Dhanashri, Malkauns from him.

    In my journey of music, the next turning point came when I was accepted as a disciple by the doyenne of the Jaipur Gharana - 'Gaan Saraswati', 'Sangeet Kaumudi' Dr. Alaka Deo Marulkar. Her style blends aesthetics with intellectual elements, making it appealing to both laymen and critics alike. With an intellect to match her creativity, Dr. Alaka soon became my idol for her exemplary 'planning, design and structure' in her raga presentation. Among the several elements of Jaipur gayaki I learnt from her were the quintessential treatment of laya and the space between two matra's, concept-oriented vakra taan , and several jod-raga's.

    Once Pt. Prabhudev Sardar said, “A good guru never imposes his style on his disciple – rather he encourages his shishya to incorporate nuances into a unique style of his own.”
    My gurus always encouraged me to incorporate nuances like taans, khatka, murki, intonation and style from the material I listened to, including my taleem; they allowed me to take to those elements of the gharana that I naturally took to. The emphasis was on wazan (maturity) in my singing. I draw a lot of inspiration from Jaipur artistes like Dr. Alaka Deo Marulkar, Vidushi Kishori Amonkar, and stalwarts like Pt. Jitendra Abhisheki when it comes to ‘badhat’ and ‘taans’.

    All India Radio, Dharwad
    The land of music maestros had always fascinated me and it was a dream come true to become a graded artiste of All India Radio Dharwad. The Gadag –Dharwad - Belgaum region has a rich history of legendary musicians. The 5 titans of Hindustani Classical music  - Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur, Pt. Basavaraj Rajguru, Dr.Gangubai Hangal and Pt. Kumar Gandharva hailed from this region. There were others like Sawai Gandharva, Vidushi Shobha Gurtu, who are believed to have originated from this region. The corridors and walls of All India Radio speak of a rich tradition of extremely talented, classy musicians who were recognized all across India and the world as some of the most sincere and high quality musicians.

    Nadanubhava
    Classical music has always received patronage in the courts of Maharajas and Mughals; later during the British Raj, Hindustani Classical music got marginalised into certain pockets of activity - gharanas. Today, Indian Classical music needs active propagation and promotion for its nurturing and growth. Although this ancient artform has weatherd the storms of time, it is for us to pass it on safely to gen-nxt. My effforts toward propagation and promotion of Indian Classical music gave birth to Nadanubhava. My passion for music has also made me freelance music journalist too.

    Sangeet Sankalp
    I am actively involved in the nation wide co-operative of performing artistes, ‘Sangeet Sankalp’ as one of the founder members of the Bangalore chapter. I have also co-ordinate a think-tank of intellectuals to brainstorm about, and improve the reach of Indian Classical music to the masses. It is called People for Raaga. My passion for music has also made me freelance music journalist too.