I had the opportunity of meeting the famous Sugama Sangeetha Singer Shimoga Subbanna, when he came to my house on 9th October 2013, without our knowledge. Our neighbor happens to be close relative of Shimoga Subbanna and since I was in Bangalore and am into music he brought Subbanna Sir to our house one fine afternoon. As soon as my father saw him at our door, out of joy he started singing poet Kuvempu’s ‘Ananadamaya ee Jaga Hridaya’, which Subbanna Sir sang and popularized.
I came out of my room and sat next to Subbanna Sir. He was singing ‘Anandamaya ee Jaga Hridaya’. There’s so much power and magnetism in his voice. Anybody get’s attracted easily to his singing in an instance. He is a down to earth person and would start singing immediately when we spoke about a song. Some of the songs he sang : “Baarisu kannaDa DinDimava” , “Baagilolu Kaimugidu” , “Doorake Doorake”, “KoDagana KoLi nungitta”. My mother gave a cup of coffee, he asked my mother to give another hotter cup of coffee after a couple of more songs. I sang a couple of lines from “Muraliya Naadava KeeLi”, didn’t have courage to sing more in front of him.
Even in his 74th year his voice is very powerful and loud, in kannada we say ‘Kanchina KnaTha’. He said he doesn’t care if his body ages but till his last breath he prays to God to keep his voice to be intact. He said, in life ‘age’ is only thing that comes effortlessly to anybody, people don’t need to put any effort.
He spoke of many other things. Remembering of an incident, when he was twenty years old, in Mysore, India’s then Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru was to visit his college on account of Independence Day. Since Nehru was visiting, college officials didn’t want to play National Anthem in tape recorder. They wanted somebody to sing personally. Subbanna Sir was asked to sing. He went on the dais and there was still time before Nehru came, so he began singing songs closing his eyes. When he was singing Nehru arrived and college officials signaled to stop singing, but Subbanna Sir didn’t realize since his eyes were closed and he was engrossed in singing. Nehru signaled telling them to let the boy sing. After Subbanna Sir finished singing, there was a pat on the back, only then he realized Nehru had arrived. He said this is the advantage of singing closing one’s eyes.
Shimoga Subbanna popularized many of Rashtrakavi Kuvempu’s songs. He stayed at out house for almost an hour. After he left, I had lunch and went for an afternoon nap, even in my sleep I could hear ‘Anandamaya ee Jaga Hridaya’ song in his voice.
This is one of the golden moments of my life, I can never forget. His humble nature, loud crystal clear voice, his smile, the divinity in his words, echoes in my mind, etched in my heart.