Singer C. Ashwath was born on December 29, 1939 at Chennarayapatna in Hassan district. He graduated in science from Bangalore University. Later, he worked in Indian Telephone Industries for 27 and he served as an Executive Engineer before he retired in 1992.
He started his musical career as a disciple of Devagiri Shankararao Joshi in Hindustani Music. He entered music field through the Kannada film Kakana Kote. He became a household name in Karnataka after he sang the songs of Santa Shishunala Sharifa. He breathed new life into Kannada folk songs. He carved a niche of his own in all three fields that demand music as an element of expression: Theatre, Sugam Sangeetha and Film.
C Ashwath has produced over 75 albums and presented them in many concerts abroad. Some of the more popular among them are Shishunala Sharif Sahebara Geethegalu, Barako pada Barako, Shravana, Mankuthimmana Kagga, Kannadave Sathya, Mysoru Mallige, Spandana, Deepika, Bannada Hakki (Makkala Kavitegalu), Subba Bhattara Magale, Maavu Bhevu, Anuraga, Kengulabi, Sampada, Kailasam Geethegalu and Nagamandala.
The Sugama Sangeetha exponent had a great demand to sing for films. He had worked with popular musicians like Gurukiran, V Manohar, Nagendra Prasad, Mano Murthy, S Narayan, Sadhu Kokila, Ravichandran and Venkat Narayan. He had rendered his voice for the movies like Shubam, Matha, Shishya, Amrutha Dhaare, Deadly Soma, Veeru, Devi, Yentha Tamaasha Kano, Hatavaadi and Thimma.
The singer became exponent of Bhavageete (expressive poetry), Janapada Geete (folk songs) Vachanas. Besides being a singer, he used to compose songs on his own and sing them. According to Dr. GS Shivarudrappa, along with bringing a dignity to the field of Sugama Sangeeta with his compositions, Ashwath has successfully explored the secrets and the depths of Sugama Sangeeta with his analytical skills.
He has the voice and mental makeup apt for Sugama Sangeeta. His voice had even mesmerized the late Hindustani Classical vocalist Gangubai Hangal. Once she had said, “His voice touches the heart. I immensely like his songs of Shishunala Sharif, Bendre and Narasimhaswamy. I have heard the same songs in different tunes by other singers. But I think the way, he has composed them gives them a new meaning."
Ashwath was one of the creative giants. As a singer, he has the same creative sensibilities as poet. Siddalinga Pattanashetty once said, “Ashwath has the capabilities to sing a variety of bhavageetes. His voice has the versatility of singing 'shrungara', 'veera', 'shanta' rasas equally well.
Another quality of Ashwath is constant unsatisfaction. And because of this he never grew stagnant was able to surprise his audiences by improving his standards and give new meanings to the songs by singing them with fresh emotion, style, pace and energy every time. His style of Sugama Sangeetha stands out because of his deep understanding of classical music.
C Ashwath was so dedicated to music that he never even cared to sell his car or home to organize his music concerts. He had performed at mammoth Kannada program called 'Kannadave Satya' in Bangalore in 2005. Later, this program with ten new poems was repeated in Mysore and Hubli too. He had even toured USA and Muscat, Oman for the same programme. Before his death, he had also intended to perform in USA, Maldives, Australia, Singapore and England.
However, C Ashwath was suffering from abdominal pain for the past a few days and was undergoing treatment for liver and Kidney problem at Columbia Asia Hospital Yashwanthpur, Bangalore. It was his 71st birthday on 29th December 2009. His friends and fans had made all the arrangements to celebrate his 71th birthday in a special way. But his sudden demise on his birthday has left millions of his fans in a pool of tears. His death has created a irreplaceable void in the field of music.
We, at Oneindia, pray that may his soul rest in peace. May god give courage to his family to bear his loss.