Legendary Carnatic singer died in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on Tuesday, June 22, owing to age-related illness. She was 96. Breaking the centuries-old tradition of male dominance, she became the first woman in 300 years of tradition to sing at the famed Navaratri Celebrations of the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple.
A doyen of Carnatic music, Ponnammal was a musician who had broken gender stereotypes in classical music. Parassala B Ponnammal started her prolific music career as a child prodigy and later went on to earn many an accolades and respects for her musical prowess. During the early 1940s, Ponnammal became the first female student to enroll in the Swathi Thirunal College of Music in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. She passed out from the music college with first rank in “Gana Bushanam” and “Gana Praveena” courses. She became the first female member of the teaching faculty in Swathi Thirunal College of Music. Ponnammal was also the first woman principal to head RLV College of Music and Fine Arts in Tripunithura.
Besides the Padma Shri in 2017, Ponnammal was also a recipient of several notable honours including the Lifetime Achievement Award instituted by Chennai Fine Arts, Sangeetha Prabhakara Award, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Swathi Sangeetha Puraskaram, Sree Guruvayurappan Chembai Puraskaram and so on. She is survived by sons D Mahadevan and D Subramanian. Her husband Devanayakam Iyer and a son and daughter died before.