Karaikudi Mani, a mridangam maestro, was born on September 11, 1945, at Karaikudi inTamil Nadu and became involved with Carnatic music at the age of three and soon abandoned his vocal training in favour of learning the mridangam.
He began performing regularly, at a time when another player of the mridangam, his idol Palghat Mani Iyer, was in his prime. He took further lessons—under the tutelage of Haihara Sharma, after moving to Chennai - and received his first national award at the age of 18 from the then President of India, Radhakrishnan. For the next four decades, he declined scores of prestigious awards that were offered to him, until 1999 when he accepted the national award from Sangeeth Natak Academy. This was presented by the President of India at the time, K. R. Narayanan.
In 1986, he started an ensemble, Sruthi Laya, that combined melody and percussion. Three years later, he founded the Sruthi Laya Seva School that now has centres at Chennai, Bangalore, Australia, London, USA, and Canada.
He conducted and orchestrated several such concerts, notably a collaboration with Sri VS Narasimhan in 1990 presented Melodyssey, a project with 40 artistes, including a kunjamani Western and Indian Instruments. This won widespread appreciation and was released on tape.
He has performed with many international artists like Paul Grabowsky of Australian Art Orchestra, Eero Haemmeneimi of Finland Naada group, Elio Marchesini La Scala percussionist and Livio Magnini of Italy, Paul Simon of USA and with Finland Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 2008, Mani collaborated with Sarangan Sriranganathan and other Australian musicians in a Classical / Fusion concert called Unity in Diversity. In 2011, he played on Paul Simon's album So Beautiful or So What.