‘Rajya Sangeetha Vidwan’ Award-2022 for Hindustani singer Lalith J. Rao

‘Rajya Sangeetha Vidwan’ Award-2022 for Hindustani singer Lalith J. Rao

September 26, 2022

Award to be conferred during inauguration of Dasara cultural programmes at Mysore Palace this evening

Mysore/Mysuru: The Government of Karnataka has been honouring personalities who have served in the field of music every year during Mysuru Dasara by conferring ‘Rajya Sangeetha Vidwan’ Award since 1993.

For the year 2022, Hindustani singer Lalith J. Rao of Bengaluru has been selected for the State Award by the Selection Committee headed by noted singer B.K. Sumithra. The award will be conferred during the inauguration of Dasara cultural programmes to be held in the Palace premises at 6 pm today (Sept. 26).

The award carries a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakh, an idol of Goddess Saraswathi and a citation.


Lalith J. Rao (born 6 November 1942) is an Indian classical singer and a representative of the Agra gharana (singing style).

Rao’s introduction to classical music was at the age of three, at a concert by the Agra gharana vocalist Faiyaz Khan. She started learning music from Rama Rao Naik, who initiated her into the Agra gharana.

Lalith Rao’s first public concert was at the Bangalore Sangeet Sabha at the age of 12. When she was 14, she won the All India Classical Music competition in Mumbai and became the youngest participant of the Swami Haridas Sangeet Sammelan the same year. She completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Electrical Communication Engineering, the latter from the University of New Brunswick.

In 1967, she married Jayavanth Rao and moved to Delhi to work. Her husband convinced Rao to abandon her engineering career and pursue singing, and she received training from Dinkar Kaikini and later from Khadim Hussain Khan.

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Rao went back to the Sur Singar Sansad to restart her performance career and became a professional singer after a positive reception. She is adept at singing khyal, dhrupad, dhamar, as well as thumri, tarana and hori.

Her first concert abroad was in 1981. She has performed in France, UK, US and Canada and is a top-grade artiste of All India Radio. Rao regularly performs on the Radio and Television.

She was one of the key figures in setting up a trust “Sajan Milap” in the mid-seventies, to popularise the music of her Ustad, who used the pen name “Sajan Piya”. She was the chief coordinator for the Ford Foundation Archival project at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy from 1989-91. Few years later she herself sang for the Ethno-Musicology Department of the University of Washington in Seattle for them to archive the music of her Agra gharana.

Lalith Rao lives and teaches music in Bengaluru. Bharathi Prathap, Manohar Patwardhan, Kailash Kulkarni, Nishant Panicker, Pratima Bellave are some of her notable disciples.


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