Yamini Ghantasala is a singer with a sweet voice and an equally sweet disposition. She has pure passion brimming within her. As the granddaughter of Ghantasala Balaramayya and sister to SS Thaman, musical talent is in her veins. She can sing any kind of song with the ease of someone who knows their craft. Notwithstanding her famous lineage, Yamini took it upon herself to prove her talent, singing many cover songs and originals. Languages are not a barrier to this music lover. With inner strength and a humble approach, she is sure to fill our hearts with many cheerful tunes. Let us know a little bit about who she is and what drives her.
Family that sticks together
Yamini Ghantasala was born to Shivkumar Ghantasala and Savithri Ghantasala on 18th of April in Chennai. Still, she is a true Telugu girl at her core. Both parents belong to the Music Industry. Her father, who has departed to his heavenly abode, was a drummer, percussionist and a musician.
Mother is a singer who performed many stage shows during the 80s and 90s. She was into light music and had also sung a few playback songs. Currently, she is occupied with singing excellent Bhajans.
The family has led a simple and humble life. It is in this background that Yamini Ghantasala grew up in. They taught her and her brother great values and were always there for them like friends. Her elder brother SS Thaman and she have mutual respect for each other.
They grew up together like any typical siblings, but all that has translated into immense love and understanding in the present day.
The singer calls her childhood dramatic owing to the untimely demise of her father very early on. Since then, her brother took on the role of the family’s breadwinner. He began going from studio to studio at the age of 12, providing for the family. He took care of Yamini’s education and everything that she and her mother needed.
When she looks back at her childhood, she remembers these intense moments more than any memorable moments. “These are some of the most dramatic memories I’ve had in my life as a kid,” she reveals. These experiences have contributed a lot in her journey towards the person that she is today in all the good ways possible.
An enviable education
Yamini’s entire education was completed in Puttaparthi. For a few years during their early childhood, she and her brother studied in Chennai at Boston Matriculation Higher Secondary School.
Immediately after their father’s unexpected demise, her mother was very particular that she should get into an educational and disciplined atmosphere. She did not want any influences from the outside world entering her daughter’s world. Hence, Puttaparthi was the best choice. Yamini joined there, where she continued her education until the 12th standard.
After school, she returned to her mother and brother. She completed her college education from MOP Vaishnav College in Chennai where she did her B.Sc in Information Systems Management. Following this, she diligently sat for competitive exams such as CAT and MAT. This was the time she explored her ideas regarding education.
Learning music was always a given, considering her family’s background. But, her way of life during this time was to come to an understanding about her education. With hard work she got admitted into IIM-C and finished a diploma course in HR and Marketing. Later she joined a corporate company, giving 7 years to the job.
Lessons from teachers
Since a large part of her childhood was in Puttaparthi, Yamini Ghantasala admires her teachers, their values and way of life. The lifestyle there impacted and contributed towards her growth into a very simple and humble person. She carries these values and lessons and implements them to this day.
Very small things are enough to make her happy, she says. These things can be something as easy as going to the beach and just looking up at the sky. This serenity has roots in how she was during her childhood.
Lessons from life
Though Yamini Ghantasala has a number of interesting stories growing up, she mostly zeroes in on the time she had to move away from her mother and brother. This change after losing her father was not easy on her at all.
So, the whole period was conspicuously high on emotions that included much thinking, crying and missing her family while she was in Puttaparthi. She went through this phase while studying.
Yamini Ghantasala feels she does not have any extremely happy memories in her childhood. She says it was a way of life that drove her to keep moving ahead and that she is very grateful for it.
Most supportive people
For Yamini Ghantasala, her family is her biggest support, having gone through their hardships together. A few friends from the industry have always stood by her, no matter what.
Whether she goes through rejections or whether she bags a good song that became a hit, they were there. She is extremely grateful to these rare individuals, whom she can count on her fingers.
Training for the future
The day Yamini decided to pursue music for good, she quit her corporate job permanently. She was learning music for a very long time, but she really wanted to do something more traditional. She wanted to take the different approach of going to a college. So, she attended KM Conservatory, which is AR Rahman’s school of music. There, she practiced her classical lessons for a while to the best of her ability.
Invisible skills as the armory
In the industry, she states, everyone has skills. These skills can be learnt and worked upon with the right push. But, she feels there are certain skills that one doesn’t see obviously but need to have. These include a mountain of patience and perseverance. She had learnt these skills from her brother and also a lot of people who inspire her on a day to day basis. Musicians and friends alike are part of this inspiration. She stresses on the fact that these two skills are something one must possess.
Powering through lows
Yamini Ghantasala agrees that she listens to a range of musical compositions. On any given day, if something catches her attention, she takes her car on a drive and plays music on full volume. This relieves her from whatever situation she might be going through. It also helps her focus on what is next. Additionally, workouts, particularly yoga helps too.
A combination of classical and modern
Yamini, a spirited woman, loves watching films and listening to wonderful music. She doesn’t miss this for even a single day. She listens to a wide selection of artists. Her playlist has a combination of traditional music, slokas, EDM, pop and Jazz. She wants to listen to “everything.”
Importantly, Yamini has a fondness for F1 races. She is a huge fan of Formula 1 races. This love has even taken her to Singapore to view a race live.
A positive spin to struggling days
Speaking about her experiences in the Industry, she says that every industry that a person works in is tough. The Film Industry, however, is more of a visual medium. It is a more expressive medium. It becomes more of a struggle because there is a wave of emotions that just rush in that moment.
She observes, “more than tough, I’ll look at it as an opportunity everyday for us to better ourselves.” For her, she does not like the idea of looking at the industry as tough as it discourages her. She agrees that it is definitely difficult, but it is also a blessing in disguise that pushes us for self improvement. It aids us to learn new things and to observe and learn from fellow artists.
Every artist faces rejections, insecurities and sometimes clueless phases where the question ‘what next’ is asked. During such a moment, she reminds us that we can do something that makes us happy. In her case, it is driving her car to loud music. Workout and yoga are also a healthy outlet to stress and turmoil.
She adds that practicing harder takes her forward through this adventure that is life.
Distinguished role models
Yamini has a number of role models she considers special. During her school days, she used to listen to a lot of Lata Mangeshkar songs. She states that she is a particularly big fan of Shreya Ghoshal. She has memories of listening to her songs since her 9th or 10th standard. Her first very few songs before and after ‘Devdas’ means everything to Yamini. Even her Konkani song is a part of listening pleasure. “I’m blessed that she knows it,” she reveals. Even though Yamini has access to celebrities like her today, she still feels shivers down her back to text or meet them. “This is out of respect and pure love for them,” she says.
A noted inspiration, someone who has been there and seen it all, is her brother. She shares that he is a “living, next-door inspiration” for her. Right before her eyes, she sees him working very hard. Also, Keeravani garu and his music has a large impact on her life. She remembers him as a very genuine person. “When I released ‘Chalo’ he was so supportive of that,” she gushes. Additionally, Yamini also finds inspiration from Ilayaraja garu and AR Rahman garu.
Independent first steps
Delving into her first days of her entry into the industry, Yamini talks about not having a demo with her. Musicians are, by norm, supposed to have a demo. When she initially started in the industry during early 2016, she didn’t have any demo. She used to visit each studio and request the respected person that she will sing live to see if they liked her voice.
Later, a few friends educated her on the necessity of having 4-5 songs of various styles in the demo. It was then that she booked a studio, purchased pen drives and created one.
When she used to go to studios looking for opportunities and chances to sing, she came across the music director ‘Achu Rajamani.’ He is, in her words, “an amazing director, very knowledgeable musician.” He heard her voice live and gave her a chance to record for him the next day. It was for the Tamil movie ‘Yaanum Theeyavan’ which was released in 2017. The song she sang was ‘aagayame’ which is a beautiful, melodious number. It is more so a small song. Yamini is happy to have debuted with a song of this calibre and sound. An unforgettable experience, this was her first time before a mike.
In Telugu, she likes to mention ‘Sricharan Pakala’ who believed in her right from the beginning. She did not have many demos to present even to him. It had more to do with the vocal and today she looks up to him and calls him a large inspiration. He inspires her not just as a musician, but also as an individual. She has learnt a lot from him. They are good friends now. She cheerfully remembers her journey so far from 2016 to 2021. It’s been quite the experience and she continues to work for him as a teammate.
Work so far
Yamini has sung in a lot of movies, some of which are yet to release. She doesn’t have a count of the number of songs she completed. However, the best song can be counted as Paluke Bangarama for the film ‘Operation Goldfish.’ She says it sounds simple when heard over the head phones. But, it was a tough composition and a tough song before the mike as well. This is because she had to maintain a subtle tone while balancing the expression from not being too high or low. It was an interesting experience for Yamini as it made her explore a different side of her as a vocalist. She gives the credit to Sricharan Pakala for making it sound so beautiful.
Gira gira gira song from ‘Dear Comrade’ is her most favourite. She says she likes these two songs any day from her work.
Passion and drive
According to Yamini, success is far away and she has a long way to go. She always thinks that when she wakes up on a given day, she is grateful and knows that she has to give her best each day to reach where she wants to.
The milestones are different for different people, hence success is different too, be it her or anyone else. “You’ve got to take it one day at a time, one song at a time,” she says.
It was pure passion that brought her here. Yamini always had a plan for this. She was working for a corporate company for a very long time, which seemed good. But it was an overnight decision for her to make this switch to music.
“Sometimes I believe you always get back to where you belong,” she says wisely. She had it in her mind that one day she would come into the industry and be a singer, vocalist, musician and music producer. Since there is a time, moment and space for such a change, it happened in late 2015 or early 2016.
“You work every single day to get that moment in your life,” she shares. Ups and downs are a part of life always.
Yamini Ghantasala has a few interesting songs coming out soon. She is currently working on singles, collaborating with great artists. They are a work in progress.