Leela Omchery

Born in 1929 in Thiruvattar in the princely state of Travancore, now a part of Tamil Nadu, Shrimati Leela Omchery gained exposure to the arts of her land initially in her social and familial environment. Later, she chose as a vocation the practice and preservation of traditional music, studying various forms of southern Kerala under masters of repute at Thiruvattar, Tripparappu, Parasala, and Suchindram. Academically, she has pursued the study of Carnatic music, taking her Ph.D. at the University of Delhi. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Hindustani music. In the field of traditional music, Shrimati Omchery has focused on the ancient Sopana-sangeet of Kerala, devotional Thevaram songs, Ashtapadis, as well as songs for traditional dance and drama such as Krishnattam and Kathakali. She has also studied several popular genres of southern Kerala such as songs of Onam and other festivals. Through her practice and her writings on folk and traditional music, she has been able to open up a part of Kerala’s heritage before the world outside Kerala. She is a bilingual author in English and Malaya- lam, and has published books including Abhinaya Sangeetam, Padavum Paadavum, Keralathile Lasya Rachanakal, and Trikalaas of the Kerala Sanctum. She has also produced audio-cassettes of traditional music, as well as programmes on Kerala’s music for All India Radio and Doordarshan. Shrimati Om- chery has served the University of Delhi in its Faculty of Music and Fine Arts, and headed the Faculty’s Carnatic music section when she retired in 1994. She has guided a number of students both in practical music and its academic study. The Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi has honoured Shrimati Omchery with its Fellowship, bestowed in 1991. Shrimati Leela Omchery receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her contribu- tion to the traditional and folk music of Kerala.