Born in Southern India to musically gifted parents, young Rahman was afforded invaluable opportunities to immerse himself in his training from an early age. In fact, his father was himself a successful music composer and conductor, and even allowed a pre-teen Rahman to make some unaccredited contributions to his film scores. Rahman studied music with famous Indian guru Master Dhanraj, and began performing with an orchestra at age 11. He earned a scholarship at Trinity College in London, an experience that undoubtedly influenced his masterful and complex blending of jazz, classical, reggae, rock, pop, and traditional Indian musical stylings found in his most famous works. After college, Rahman got his start by composing jingles and musical scores for documentaries. From there, he worked his way into film, eventually garnishing credits in popular Indian films like Yodha, Minsara Kanavu, Lagaan, and Bombay.
Despite working constantly as a film composer over the past two decades, Rahman has also found the time to record and release music as a recording artist and contribute to a number of collaborative projects. He is a member of the band Super Heavy, one of the true “super groups” that brings together a global array of superstar talent including Rahman, Damian Marley, Joss Stone, Dave Stewart, and Mick Jaeger. He has proven himself to thrive through collaborations with other artists around the globe including Yusef Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens), Michael Bolton and Michael Jackson, and has made musical contributions to a diverse range of projects ranging from The Lord of the Rings trilogy to popular comedy like Couples Retreat to the Bollywood drama Kadal.
A.R. Rahman continues to lead a remarkable and illustrious career, having been decorated with two Grammy Awards, two Academy Awards, and dozens of other accolades from all over the world. His success as a composer and songwriter grows from his compassion and understanding of the most important issues of our time. Even so, it is nonetheless impressive how he has also dedicated significant time and resources into a diverse range of humanitarian efforts. He has worked to raise awareness and resources to fight tuberculosis as a Global Ambassador for the World Health Organization. He has both performed and recorded music in support of victims of disaster and illness, including survivors of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The Rahman-founded KM Music Conservatory has served Rahman’s home city of Chennai, India with a comprehensive music education program and state-of-the-art facilities, with offerings ranging from introductory music lessons to expert level advanced training. Rahman’s legacy will ensure that the vibrant essence of Indian music will continue to evolve, as his foundation offers an open world of opportunity for those with the drive to succeed. For Rahman, the day’s work is never finished, and tomorrow always carries the potential to bring people together in the light of great music.