Rudrapatna Krishnashastri Srikantan was born on January 14, 1920, in Hassan district into a family of musicians and vedic scholars. He is the only performing nonagenarian Carnatic vocalist in the country. With a musical journey spread over 80 years as a performer, Srikantan has enriched the Carnatic music world and trained numerous performers.
His father Krishna Sastry, and his uncle, Syama Sastri, were Harikatha exponents and poets. His grandfather, Narayanaswamy of Bettadapura, also known as Veena Narayanaswamy was a veena vidwan and his mother Sannamma was also a good singer of her times but died when Srikantan was two years old.
Srikantan got his early music training from his father and was later mentored by his brother Venkatrama Sastry. He also underwent rigorous training under the tutelage of veteran musicians like Veene Subbanna and Chowdiah. His appointment with Akashvani Mysore in the late 1940s proved a pivotal period in his musical journey, as interactions with G.N. Balasubramaniam, Musiri Subramania Iyer and Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer enriched his repertoire.
Srikantan's musical style is characterised by precision, refined pitch, rich tonal quality and profound engagement with the literature.
The veteran vocalist has many laurels to his credit including the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award by the Government of India in 1979, State Sangeet Natak Akademi Award by the Government of Karnataka in 1981, Sangeetha Kalanidhi title from the Madras Music Academy in 1995, Kanaka-Purandara Award by the Government of Karnataka, Padma Bhushan Award by Government of India in 2011, Sangeetha Prabhakara Award in 2013 and many others.
Some of Srikantan's accomplished disciples include his son R.S. Ramakanth, daughter Ratnamala Prakash, M.S. Sheela, Shashank, T.S. Satyavathy, R.A. Ramamani, M.T. Selvanarayana and H.K. Narayana.