Born in Mayiladuthurai in Tamilnadu, Sukkanya hails from a family of musicians and Tamil scholars. She is the great granddaughter of the well known scholar Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. U.V.Swaminatha Iyer, fondly known as ‘Tamil Tatha’ (grand old man of Tamil). Ghanam Krishnaier, the famous musician of yesteryears is Dr. Swaminatha Iyer’s uncle. Sukkanya exhibited an inclination towards percussion instruments right from her childhood. She used to buy the toy “DAMARU”(a small percussion toy instrument) sold in streets during PONGAL festival (harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu during mid January every year) and play them enthusiastically. The Great Ghatam Maestro Padmabhushan Sh. Vikku Vinayakaram was in the neighborhood of her Triplicane residence in Chennai which provided the golden opportunity for her to come under his tutelage.
Sukkanya initially began training in the mridangam at the tender age of 12 at Sri Jaya Ganesh Talavadya Vidyalaya in Chennai. However, it was the ghatam that was her true calling. Under the able guidance of Sri Harihara Sharma and later under his son, ghatam maestro Sri Vikku Vinayakram, Sukkanya trained rigorously on the ghatam. Over the last four decades, Sukkanya has mastered the unique ghatam fingering techniques and is today considered as one of the true torchbearers of the Vikku baani of ghatam playing. She is also a proficient performer on the Konnakol (vocal percussion).
Sukkanya has provided ghatam accompaniment to several senior Carnatic musicians. Besides performances across prominent venues in India, she has also enthralled audiences in the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Switzerland, Dubai, Singapore, Denmark and other countries. She has performed at prestigious venues like the Musee Guimet and Cite De La Musique in Paris, the Queen’s Hall in London and also for the golden jubilee celebrations of the Sangeet Natak Akademi. She has performed with western bands and created a sensation among the western music audience. To view some of the reviews on her performance click here.
The Ghata Tharang is a unique idea conceptualized by Sukkanya. Her commitment to breaking new ground has inspired her to play the Ghata Tharang with 6 ghatams of different shruthis, thereby creating melody on a percussion instrument. This is the first time that a percussion instrument has come to occupy the centre stage in a Carnatic concert and is therefore truly a revolution in the field.
Sukkanya leads an all women’s instrumental ensemble called Sthree Thaal Tharang. This is today one of India’s most well regarded ensembles. Besides performing extensively in India, Sthree Thaal Tharang has performed in festivals and universities in Switzerland, Denmark, Cyprus, China, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Sukkanya is an ‘A Top’ grade artist of All India Radio. She is also empanelled by the ICCR as an ‘Outstanding Artiste’ - the topmost category for performing artists of the country. To view a list of awards and titles click here.
Sukkanya’s artistic journey is being ably supported by her family. Her husband Sri. V Ramgopal retired from the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) as a senior executive. Her son, daughter and son-in-law are engineers employed with leading IT firms. Her mother-in-law is an ardent music lover. All of them, in their own ways, have been contributing to Sukkanya’s achievements.