T.M. Krishna, who describes himself, quite simply, as ‘a singer’, is one of the pre-eminent vocalists in the rigorous Carnatic tradition of India's classical music. His tutelage is in this form that originated in the southern peninsula of the sub-continent over two hundred years ago. His training has been under the distinguished gurus, B. Seetharama Sarma and Semmangudi Srinivasaier. Krishna belongs to a tradition, but is not owned by it. His concert stage, whether in his hometown of Chennai or anywhere else in the world, is wholly classical but his concert practice is uncompromisingly his own. He sings with a musical veracity that goes back centuries but from a musical imagination that unfolds in the present. It is free of the coils of mindless adherence and, equally, of the traps of soulless innovation. As one of the most widely travelled musicians of his generation, Krishna has reinforced the Carnatic musical legacy among its cognoscenti and also introduced its majesty to new audiences across continents.
In the firm belief that an aesthetic foundation to society is vital not just culturally but civilizationally, he has launched an initiative called Svanubhava (self-wrought experience) to kindle an interest among the young in music, dance and theatre. This is a platform that breaks all divisions of class, creed and caste that impede cultural interaction. It gives the young an ordinarily unavailable opportunity to hear, see and absorb ‘live’ cultural presentations from the greatest artists of India. Krishna has also founded organizations for the revitalization of Carnatic music within social formations that have a natural bent for the artistic but lack creative access to it. Aware of the criticality of conservation in an arena as fragile as classical music, he has also catalyzed and furthered efforts at documentation and archival preservation. The author of regularly published articles and papers on music and aesthetics, he has lectured on these and related subjects in forums students, scholars, professionals and businessmen.
His interests extend to public concerns and issues of contemporary implication. He has both written about and participated in initiatives that have a vital social bearing. He has provided guidance to a movement for cultural retrievals in the war-ravaged Northern Province of Sri Lanka. His first book, titled Voices Within, co-authored with Bombay Jayashri, was an illustrated work on Carnatic musicians. His most recent book, A Southern Music, published by Harper Collins in December 2013, is a first-of-its-kind work on the Carnatic tradition. T M Krishna writes a fortnightly column for The Hindu news paper , titled As I See It.