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Shivmani – the melodic maestro!

September 4, 2009

Childhood was never rosy for this gentleman but the urge to fulfill his dream helped him find his rhythm in life. Apart from music, self-motivation has escorted this illustrious percussionist to the position where he is today. Taking a tour through Shivamani’s life demonstrates this.

Born to a lower-middle class family in Chennai, a lot of Shivamani’s desires had gone unfulfilled in his childhood. His family couldn’t afford to send him to a school. They couldn’t afford to buy him the toys that he desired. His desire to play with the children of his age was not fulfilled. To quote Shivamani, “It is said that childhood days never come back. I sincerely hope they never do at least for me.” Though this isolation made him quiet, but as a blessing to thousands and lakhs of his fans, it instigated love for music in him.

Though Shivmani was a son of a well-known percussionist father S M Anandan, he never had the opportunity to explore his talent using his father’s mridangam or drums. But the fire in him used to make him so fidgety that he use to practice in the kitchen, with spoons, bottles, and saucepans;  to which his mother was his audience. It was later at the age of eight that his father saw him playing Aaja Aaja from Teesri Manzil on his drums and realized the fervor in his son. His father admitted him to St. Paul’s High School in order to join the band there. Later on, he was so fascinated by Mr. Noel Grant, a Navy drummer; he started bunking his school to be with Noel.

Life had more surprises in store for him. At the age of 12, when Shivmani performed on stage, he was hooted off by people who threw rotten eggs and slippers on him. But this didn’t deter him, instead he practiced vigorously, sometimes around 20 hours at a stretch, in order to fulfill his dreams. Today, all this hard work has paid him rich dividends. But just look at the irony of it all — the boy who was hooted off stage is now called the pundit of percussion!

It was after his father’s death that he got a chance to play the dholak for music director K V Mahadevan for an action scene of a film. Seeing his passion, SP Balasubramaniam asked him to join his troupe. From there onwards, there was no looking back in his life. Later on he got a chance to work with AR Rahman with whom he debuted his first full-fledged recording for Roja. Since then, he has worked with various stalwarts like Zakir Hussain, Louis Banks, Karl Peters, Shankar Mahadevan, Andrew Lloyd Webber, James Asher and Steven Segal. He also has his own band called Silk.

Others live for their passion, Shivmani for percussion!

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