LALITH J. RAO
LALITH J. RAO
Smt. Lalith J. Rao (also spelt Lalit) (born 6 November 1942) is an Indian classical singer and a representative of the Agra gharana. Rao’s introduction to Hindustani classical music was at the age of three, at a concert by the Agra Gharana vocalist Faiyaz Khan. She started learning music from Rama Rao Naik, who initiated her into the Agra gharana style of singing. Rao’s first public concert was at the Bangalore Sangeet Sabha at the age of 12. When she was 14, she won the All India Classical Music competition in Mumbai and became the youngest participant of the Swami Haridas Sangeet Sammelan the same year, and was well received. Rao completed her Bachelors and Masters in Electrical Communication Engineering, the latter from the University of New Brunswick. In 1967, she married Jayavanth Rao and moved to Delhi to work. Her husband convinced Rao to abandon her engineering career and pursue singing, and she received training from Dinkar Kaikini and later from Khadim Hussain Khan.
Rao went back to the Sur Singar Sansad to restart her performance career and became a professional singer after a positive reception. She is as adept at singing khyal, dhrupad, dhamar, as well as thumri, tarana and hori. Under the guidance of her ustad, Rao developed a unique style of rendering taranas. Her first concert abroad was in 1981. She has performed in France, UK, USA and Canada and is a top-grade artiste of All India Radio. Rao regularly performs on the Radio and Television. Rao was one of the key figures in setting up a trust “Sajan Milap” in the mid-seventies, to popularise the music of her Ustad, who used the pen name “Sajan Piya”. She was the chief coordinator for the Ford Foundation Archival project at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy from 1989-91. Few years later she herself sang for the Ethno-Musicology Department of the University of Washington in Seattle. for them to archive the music of her Agra gharana. Rao lost her voice on the eve of a tour of Europe in 1994 but gradually recovered with the help of a voice trainer. She lives and teaches music in Bangalore.
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