One of the most popular singers in the world passed away in September due to Covid-related illness, and while billions mourned the loss, billions more have yet to be introduced to the man's music. S. P. Balasubrahmanyam was an Indian musician, singer, music director, dubbing artist and film producer who recorded more than 40,000 songs in 16 languages over a career that stretched from 1966 until his death in 2020. His prolificness was matched by his many awards including six Indian National Film Awards for Best Male Playback Singer in four different languages. He achieved extraordinary popularity that necessitated him flying back and forth from his home in Chennai to record as many as 19 songs in a different city before flying home for the evening.
In the United States his music has only been released in the mainstream on compilations of the work of music producers he recorded for such as Vijaya Anand and Ilaiyaraaja. In 1992 David Byrne's Luaka Bop label releasead Dance Raja Dance marketed as a guide to the music of Vijaya Anand, but featuring songs song almost exclusively by S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and compilations with names like Fire Star and Solla Solla marketed as the music of Ilaiyaraaja feature many S.P. Balasubrahmanyam songs as well. Before hitting the big time in playback singing, S. P. Balu (as he was affectionately named) actually toured South India in a band that featured Ilaiyaraaja on guitar and harmonium along with Ilaiyaraaja's younger brother Gangai Amaran who also became a music producer. You will hear music from all of them on this special.
While S.P. Balu was not classically trained, the music producers he worked with insisted he record numbers in the South Indian Carnatic classical style and after overcoming his initial trepidation and entering the vocal booth, many of the Carnatic style film songs he sang became massively popular. This two-hour S.P. Balasubrahmanyam special curated and hosted by The Incredible Kid is only able to offer the briefest glimpses into the staggeringly large discography of one of the absolute giants of Indian popular music.