Scholar and performer of Carnatic vocal music, R.Vedavalli was born in 1935 in Mannargudi, Tamil Nadu, to Ramaswami Iyengar and Padmasani Ammal. At the age of five, the gift of a harmonium from Srirangam Iyengar initiated her into the world of music. A few years later in Madras, Vedavalli became a disciple of Mudicondan Venkatarama Iyer.
As a Central Government scholarship awardee she specialised in Padams and Javalis with T. Muktha and in Pallavi with Mudicondan himself. Her first sabha kutcheri was in Bangalore in the Malleswaram Sangeetha Sabha in 1953 when she was 18. Since then, there has been no looking back for this veteran performer, who is today a top graded artiste of All India Radio and has travelled extensively giving concerts and lecture-demonstrations.
Vedavalli combines the serene grace of pure classicism in her performances with her erudite scholarship in musicology. Her discourses on music and lecture-demonstrations are as sought-after as her concerts. She has undertaken projects to revive old musical forms like the Mallari traditions and Thyagaraja's Divyanama Kirtanas. She is also an expert veena player, and has a good command of languages such as Sanskrit, Telugu and Kannada, apart from her mother tongue, Tamil, which helps her sing with deep understanding of the emotion and essence of compositions.
Vedavalli served in the Teachers' College of Music of the Madras Music Academy for several years, before becoming a Professor of Vocal Music in the Government College of Music, Adyar. She has trained a galaxy of accomplished performers, researchers, teachers and writers.
Vedavalli is a recipient of many prestigious awards and titles including the titles of Divya Gana Pravina, Sangita Choodamani, Kalaimamani, Sangita Ratnakara and Gayaka kula Tilaka Kalpalata.