Kannan trained under Gurus Vasantha Krishnamurthy and Pichumani Iyer. He also underwent advanced training in "Raga rendering" under the musical genius and Veena maestro Dr. S. Balachander.
He also hails from a family with artistic background. His father V. Balakrishnan is a reputed documentary maker. His mother Shyamala Balakrishnan was a well-known singer and research scholar in music. Kannan is also the nephew of Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, the reputed dancer and research scholar.
A Commerce Graduate from Vivekananda College. He is one of the earliest recipients of the title of "Yuva Kala Bharati" awarded by Bharat Kalachar, Chennai (1988). Kannan was also awarded the Fellowship of the Department of Culture, Government of India for an advanced research project in Veena.
Kannan is deeply interested in Sanskrit and Vedic studies. He had the unique privilege and honour of representing the Jagadguru Sankaracharyas of the illustrious Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam at the World Hindu Conference in Bali, Indonesia in 1993. He was the Honorary Cultural Secretary of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai where the Bhavan's Cultural Centre was started during his tenure. He also served in the Executive Committee of the All India Carnatic Musicians' Forum (AICMF).
Kannan is the Secretary of Nrithyodaya, Chennai (which is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee) and also a Trustee of the Director K. Subrahmanyam Memorial Trust.