News & Notes

Devoted to her father’s legacy

Geetha Bennett (1950-2018)

Geetha Ramanathan Bennett, musician (and Tamil short story writer), passed away on 7 August 2018 after a long battle with cancer. A daughter of Sangita Kalanidhi Dr. S Ramanathan, Geetha was a vainika and vocalist who was active for decades as a performer and teacher in the US.

Geetha Bennett who lived in Caifornia, U.S.A., also experimented with fusion work. Some of her performances have been with the Colgate University orchestra and a veena concerto composed by her husband Frank Bennett for the Catskill Symphony Orchestra. Geetha sang for the Hollywood feature film The Guru and her veena can be heard in the Imax film Everest. She was recorded by Sangeetha Cassettes and Inreco, India.

In 2016, on S. Ramanathan’s 100th birth anniversary, she embarked on a project to upload on YouTube, at least a hundred songs sung by her father as a homage to him. She was assisted by her musician husband who managed the technical side of the project. Though extremely ill when Sruti editor V. Ramnarayan and friends visited her at her US home, she happily agreed to write an article for her father’s centenary for the magazine. The affection and goodwill of the Bennett family made it a memorable experience for the visitors.

Geetha Bennett was also a well known Tamil writer with about 350 publications to her credit. She received the prestigious Illakiya Chintanai award in 1984 and was the first female editor of Kumudam’s ladies magazine Malar Malligai.

An ‘A top’ graded musician of Doordarshan, she received the ‘best veena player award’ from Narada Gana Sabha and the Indian Fine Arts Society, Chennai.

An artist who never let her health come in the way of her music, Geetha Bennett remained in touch with music through her years of chemotherapy and surgeries. She always acknowledged the loving support of her family and students. She will be remembered for her passion for music, her determination to carry forward her father’s legacy and to live and die on her own terms.