Making a living as a Carnatic musician can be challenging, as you don’t earn much until you become a top-ranking musician,” says Vishnudev Namboothiri, a rising Carnatic musician who quit his IT job to follow his musical dreams. A decision he calls ‘liberating’.
Born in Kerala, the disciple of several highly regarded gurus received the honourable ‘All India Radio A grade’ in 2011, after which he won the Jaya TV Carnatic Music Idol contest the very next year. “That was probably the first reality show for Carnatic music. I got a lot of exposure from the show,” he says.
This prompted him to quit his IT career two years later to become a full-time Carnatic musician. “I find that being full-time musician gives me more opportunities. I can do week kutcheris as well,” he laughs.
Vishnudev’s music is steeped in tradition, but there is enough room for creativity and innovation. Born and raised in Angamaly, Kerala, the engineer-turned-Carnatic vocalist says his family was always keen on Carnatic music, though there weren’t many venues in his hometown for the art. “I remember my father would take me to kutcheris when I was very small. We would travel to main cities like Ernakulam and Thrissur just for it,” he recalls, talking about how he was influenced by music. “I would also listen to a lot of recordings by famous artists. It’s called kelvi nyanam, the skill of learning from listening.”