Shri Manapragada Narasimha Murthy
Janapada Brahma Shri Manapragada Narasimha Murthy, a world renowned Folk Singer, has been instrumental in the proliferation of Indian Folk Arts all over the world. He is known for his Golden Tenor voice and a natural flair for folk arts. He has given numerous performances at regional, national and international level and gained international acclaim. He was awarded the title of JanapadaBrahma (which literally means the Father of Folk Music) by the Government. Shri Manapragada has won many national and international awards including the Best International Singer award in Berlin's International Youth Festival in 1973 where the spirit of Indian folklore won international acclaim setting a new standard with his rendition of "Vallari Baavoi" - the song that introduced the folk songs of Andhra Pradesh, most importantly the folk songs of India, to the entire world! His most cherished award was the National Integration Award bestowed upon him by the Government of India in Rashtrapathy Bhavan.
Among his many international acclamations, he was dubbed as the "Kenny Rogers of India" by KPFK, Los Angeles, USA, that compared him to the Country Music legend Kenny Rogers of USA. He has been conferred with many prestigious awards including "JanapadaRatna" (Folk Music Jewel/Gem) for his outstanding achievements in the field of folk music research and renditions. He was an accomplished singer, musician, and music director. He commanded an emeritus status in the Public Broadcasting Radio (AIR) and Television (Doordarshan), the highest honor bestowed on an individual performer. His name is synonymous with the "Dappu" (Bodhran) that he used as an accompanying instrument and which he played as a solo accompanying instrument for all of his performances though out the world.
There have been many recorded performances popularized since his work began in 1963. Shri Manapragada has collected more than 3000 folk songs by traveling to the remotest villages as part of his quest for the folk arts culture. Shri Manapragada's research documentation, his renditions, and his work contain extensive information about the lifestyle of the village folk, their festivals, their celebrations, and invaluable accounts of his experiences. Shri Manapragada has the unique distinction of being the first performer for the first ever TANA conference held in 1977. Since then, he had performed in many international conferences including TANA, ATA and WTF.
His early work was funded by the Government of India on a first ever Folk Music Research Scholarship initiated to conduct up-front and personal interviews with the village folk all over Andhra Pradesh and in rural parts of other states in India to gather information and document their lifestyles, culture and traditions. Later on, Shri Manapragada traveled to the rural parts of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Nepal, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh, etc., to document and collect their respective folklore. After this, Shri Manapragada traveled all around the world as part of Indian international delegations to USA, Germany, Singapore, Malaysia, Eastern Block, Japan, etc., and spread the our folk arts and music.
His extraordinary works have been documented in research works and also in the form of various performances in All India Radio, Doordarshan TV, and Private TV like Eenadu (ETV) and Gemini TV. Speaking in an interview in the USA, Shri Manapragada said, "The best way to reach to people is to speak to them in their own language in a way that makes them care to listen to you. I feel at home with the rural folk once sound my "Dappu" and start to sing. They are willing to listen to me and I can ask them to do whatever I please and they will do it. They treat you like God. It is both a divine and humbling feeling experienced all at the same time. It is truly a spiritual experience."
Shri Manapragada engaged in numerous governmental development programs such as the National Integration Movement, Adult Education (Ratiri Badi), Eradication of Illiteracy (Palakaa-Balapam), Child Education (Bhaavi Bharatam), Family Planning (Kutumba Niyantrana), etc. Shri Manapragada rendered public performances to help uplift the rural folk with his inimitable vocal rendition and public performances in "rupakams" and "skits". Many of his colleagues still get inspired by his unrelenting efforts and continue his saga of folk arts. Current generation musicians have been inspired by Shri Manapragada and have a renewed respect and interest in folk arts. Shri Manapragada's legacy is in our folk culture and tradition with his immense folk songs collection and of course, his immortal voice. ■
His life was Janapadam...
His Family was Janapadam...
His Friends were Janapadam...
Manapragada inspires by his folksongs which are all around him. He always strived in proliferation of FolkMusic, made himself available as a Folk Music Ambassdor of the World to the next generations. He always had folk music in his blood and loved traveling every nook and corner of the world in performing and in proliferation of Folk Music and Folk Art Forms
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