The voice is central in the Carnatic tradition; many believe that it's the only instrument capable of bringing out all the nuances of a composition. The 16th century composer Tyagaraja wrote: "It is not merely the voice, but the entire being, the heart..." that contribute to good singing. So it's no surprise that the best singers assume almost superhuman status in the south of India. M. Balamurali Krishna gave his first vocal concert in 1938, at the tender age of eight, and has been one of the great interpreters of vocal Carnatic music. Maharajapuram Santhanam was a composer and singer whose mellow style had an elegance pleasing to listeners from all walks of life. But most beloved is MS Subbulakshmi, who has been called "the nightingale of Carnatic music." Portrayed as saintly, kind, considerate, and compassionate, she was not only a technically brilliant, hugely popular singer, she was also considered a model of traditional Indian womanhood.