The magic of her magnificent voice, her sense of proportion and the emotional content of her singing are just some of the qualities that made Jahnavi Jayaprakash the foremost and most popular vocalist of Karnataka of recent decades. In Amsterdam, she had a profound and lasting influence on a whole generation of musicians. She was endowed with a rich and melodious voice, encompassing three octaves with ease, which had precision, tone perfection and clarity.
The much-travelled Jahnavi was born in 1950 into an illustrious family of poets, composers and musicologists enjoying a cherished place in the literary and music world of Karnataka. Jahnavi's training in classical Karnatic music began at an early age, having had the good fortune of learning from such stalwarts in the field as Sri. T. Puttaswamaiah of Bangalore and Sri. H.V. Venkateshaiah of Holenarasipur, who groomed her in the various aspects of this multifaceted and arduous art form. Besides being well versed in the practical side of Indian classical music, she also had a deep theoretical background in the subject, having taken a master’s degree in music at Bangalore University in 1977.
A performing artiste of extraordinary caliber, Jahnavi gave innumerable vocal recitals at important cultural centers all over India and abroad, particularly in the USA, Europe, Canada, Middle and the Far East. She participated in many International and multicultural festivals of Music and Dance in both the USA and Europe. In 1990, she participated in the festival of India celebrations held in Los Angles and San Francisco, as well as the prestigious Los Angeles Festival of Music and Dance.
Jahnavi's forte lay in her capacity to sing for classical Indian dancing. This unique talent endeared her to the entire dancing fraternity. She accompanied almost all the leading Indian classical dancers, the world over and she co-produced major dance performances in USA at the Japan America Theater, Long Beach Convention Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion etc. In the year 1990, she provided music for "The Mahabharata", a dance drama created by Peter Brook performed at the Los Angeles festival of music and dance. Jahnavi's artistic proficiency won her many bequests and accolades: she received the state award for her first place in the art faculty of the Bangalore University in the year 1977. In recognition and appreciation of her talent she was also conferred with the titles "Swarna Kokila" and "Sangeetha Sharade", and in 1997 she was awarded the title "Karnataka Kalashree".
During a European tour in 1993, she came in contact with Rafael Reina, who studied with her for several years and subsequently created a curriculum at the Conservatory of Amsterdam around Carnatic theory. In 1998 Jahnavi was invited to conduct a weeklong seminar and workshop on the "Science and Art of Carnatic Music", which was organized jointly by the Conservatory and the International Society for Microtonal Music (Huygens-Fokker Foundation). As part of this event, a series of concerts were arranged for Jahnavi throughout the Netherlands in collaboration with several prestigious Dutch organizations. Her musicality and teachings were so captivating that she returned to the Netherlands in 2000, 2001 and 2002 for more workshops and concerts and she taught many musicians who began regularly experimenting with what they had learned at the Karnatic Lab. Always striving for innovation, Jahnavi also participated in several musical collaborations, including a crossover project organized by the Kulsan Foundation with Turkish musicians.
While she already had had a profound effect, the feeling in Amsterdam in 2002 was that her teachings were just beginning when she died suddenly in April of a heart attack at the age of 52. Her students, fans and colleagues throughout India, North America and Europe were shocked. The loss suffered that day made no sense because she was a great artist in her prime; one whose influence was just starting to rapidly effect new circles of people.
In 1999 the Karnatic Lab was created out of her wave of inspiration and she performed there in the first season to a standing-room-only crowd. Since the creation of Karnatic Lab Records in 2005, it has always been planned to save our first catalog number for Jahnavi. We have compiled this disc of classic recordings of hers as a way to remember the great depth of her artistry and to share it with others.
It was made possible with the financial and moral support of many artists in Amsterdam who knew Jahnavi and gained inspiration from her.
- Jahnavi Jayaprakash voice