Born in a traditional musician family in 1937 Dr.N.Rajam started learning violin at the age of four from her father Shri. Narayan Iyer who himself was a very good violinist and veena player. Her initial training in violin was in Karnatic style and because of her sharp intelligence she started playing the Vernam within one year of her training. Strict discipline and rigorous training of her father made her to broadcast from the Madras Radio Station at the age of nine. In her second phase of training she got a rare opportunity to learn the intricacies of raag development from the renowned vocalist, Ex –Principal of Madras College Of Music, Shri.Massurri Subramanium Iyer and also she has accompanied with him in his concerts several times. During this period she participated in the music competition organized by Madras Sangeet Academy and won First Prize and Gold Medal also. She has got the opportunity to learn the basics of Hindustani Music from Shri.L.R.Kelkar who was fortunately in Madras that time.
Apart from her music training Dr.Rajam completed Intermediate as a private candidate from Banaras Hindu University with Ist division. Later she completed B.A and M.A in Sanskrit from B.H.U and B.Music From Gandharva Mahavidyalaya and M.Music from Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad.
While learning from Shri.Kelkarji, Dr.Rajam got a chance to listen to the gramophone record of Pandit Omkarnath Thakur and from that very moment she started dreaming to become the disciple of Panditji and at last that dream came true in 1955 when she met and played violin in front of him. Panditji was quite impressed to notice his gayaki on Rajam’s violin and it was on account of this excellent technique and rendition Pt.Omkarnath Thakur accepted her as his disciple.
In 1957 she got an opportunity to accompany her Guruji Pandit.Omkarnath Thakur in one of his concert, which was a cherished moment for her and after that she has accompanied with him in almost all concerts.
In 1959 Rajamji joined as a lecturer in violin at Banaras Hindu University and her training from Panditji was continued. During this period Dr.Rajam completed her PhD on the topic “A comparative study of the Musical System of Northern and southern India” in 1965.
Starting her musical career as a child prodigy, Dr.Smt. N.Rajam has attained a status of a legend in the field of music during her 50 yrs reign as a brilliant solo violinist. Ever since she ascended the stage as a Hindustani violinist at the age of 15, a revolution took lace in the North Indian music arena, particularly in the field of violin. She achieved at that young age what was thought to be almost impossible even by the eminent musicians and musicologist, viz., tempering the western instrument for Hindustani vocal style of music. She introduced “GAYAKI ANG”, to be specific “Khayal Gayaki Ang”on the violin with such consummate artistry that most musicians, particularly violinist were stunned at the results. Her contributions to the violin technique are considered to be par with what late Shri.Pannalal Ghosh had done to Flute; late Ustad Bundu Khan had done to Sarangi, Ustad Bismillah Khan done to Sehnai. Teenaged Rajam’s violin rendition was so captivating that many violinists dropped their “Gatkari style” and adopted the Gayaki style. This style is one that was so perfected by a lifetime of discipline, hard work and arduous research that, today, “GAYAKI ANG” and Violinist Rajam are synonyms in the world of music .she has earned herself the distinction of being the pioneer in this respect.
The secret of Dr.Rajam’s genius lies in the fact that a strong foundation was laid by her father Vidwan late Sri. A. Narayana Iyer, an excellent teacher of music and a man of great foresight. He invented a special violin technique for Gayaki Ang based on Veena and Vocal technique. Her tutelage under the doyen amongst musicians, Pt.Omkarnath Thakur was a great boon to her. His powerful and emotion packed style, gave a further fillip to her research into an hitherto unexplored area of violin playing and emerged out with a masterly and brilliant technique best suited to the delineation of different forms of Hindustani music .Be it the majestic aalap of Dhrupad, the lyrical Khayal, the romantic Thumri, lilting and soulful Bhajans, vivacious Natyasangeet, tricky Tappa, nothing poses a challenge to her masterly and magical bowing and fingering technique.
Dr.Rajam has performed many violin jugalbandi programmes with eminent musicians like Ustad Bismillah Khan, Pt.Ramnarayan, Pt.V.G.Jog, and Pt.Hari Prasad Chourasia, Dr.N.Ramani and a many others.
Dr.Rajam is herself a repository of four rich traditions, her own technique of violin, the emotional Gayaki of Pt.Omkarnath Thakur, The Thumari Tradition of Pt.Mahadev Prasad Mishra and the Carnatic Tradition from The Purist Late Musiri Subramanium Iyer.
Dr Rajam has played an active role in promoting and popularizing classical music in Varanasi through Pandit Omkarnath Thakur Music Foundation. She has served the UGC and the Govt.Of India in various capacities including that of the Chairperson of the U.P.Sangeet Natak Academy. For her contribution to the field of music Govt Of India conferred her the prestigious Padmashree Award in 1984 and Padma Bhushan in 2004, Sangeet Natak Academy Awards in 2009 and Fellowship in 2012.
Dr.Rajam is not only a good performing artist but a very good Educationist also .She had a long association with Banaras Hindu University for about 38yrs from 1959- 1997, when she took voluntary retirement. She has served as The Faculty Dean for the Faculty of Performing Arts, B.H.U for more than three terms and retired as a professor in music. The University has conferred on her the title “Emeritus Professor” in recognition of her outstanding talents and service to the field of both academic and music.
Dr.Rajam travelled extensively all over the world for giving concerts, like USA, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Russia, France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand and so on and gave successful performances and received wide appreciation all over the world.
In spite of her busy schedule she never failed to groom her daughter and disciple Dr.Smt Sangeeta Shankar who has already established herself as a young promising violinist of the present generation. Dr.Rajam has produced many talented students, among them Kala Ramnath, Dr.V.Balaji, Dr.Swarna Khuntia , grand daughters Ms .Ragini Shankar and Ms.Nandini Shankar are the name who were established themselves as a young violinists of the present time in the field of music.Dr. Rajam was also associated with the Gangubai Hangal Gurukul, Hubli and there she was teaching many students under Guru –Sishya parampara and trained few students.
At Present Dr. Rajam is associated with the Gangubai Hangal Gurukul, Hubli and there she is teaching many students under Guru –Sishya parampara.