S Janaki started learning music from Sree Paidiswamy and continued her lessons until she was ten years old. On advice of her uncle Dr. Chandrashekar, S Janaki moved to Chennai for better opportunity and joined as a singer in AVM Studio. S Janaki received a second prize from the former President Dr. Rajendra Prasad at the competitions held by AIR (All India Radio) in 1956. S Janaki started her career with Tamil films in 1957 in the film 'Vidhiyin Vilayattu' under the music director T. Chalapati Rao. After that she got a chance in a Telugu film MLA. From then on, there was no looking back for her. S Janaki has several unforgettable hit songs with the association of the maestros of music. She wrote many songs for Tamil and Telugu films. She has sung many songs, in almost all languages in South India as well as in Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Sinhalese, Bengali, Oriya, English, Sanskrit, Konkani, Tulu, Saurashtra, Baduga, Japanese and German.
She has a voice quality with which she could sing in a child's voice or an old woman's voice or along with a Shenai quite naturally. She has received many awards for her talent. She won national awards for best singer four times -in 1976 for the song 'Senthoora Poove' in the Tamil Film '16 vayadhinile', in 1980 for the song 'Ettumanoorambalathil' in the Malayalam Film 'Oppol', in 1984 for the song' Vennello godari andham' in the Telugu film 'Sithara', 1992 for the song 'Inji Idippazagha' in the Tamil Film 'Devar magan'. She has won Tamil Nadu state government award 7 times, Kerala state Government awards 14 times, Andhra state government awards 10 times. She was honored with 'Kalai Mamani' in 1986, 'Sur singar' award in 1987, Cinema 'Achiever Award' by the government of Kerala in the year 2002 and many more. Her range of singing is very wide while it encompasses the songs that are devotional, mellisonant, off-colored, rebellious and imitative. She has almost retired from the industry after husband Sri.V.Rama Prasad's death. Janaki with her magnificent and versatile voice will remain in the hearts of music lovers for ages to come.
Awards received by S.Janaki:
Nandi Award for Best Female Playback Singer - 13 times
Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Female Playback - 6 times
Karnataka State Film Award for Best Female Playback - 4 times
Kerala State Film Award for Best Singer - 11 times
National Film Awards
1977 - Best Female Playback Singer - (Song: "Senthoora Poove")
1981 - Best Female Playback Singer - (Song: "Ettumanoorambalathil")
1984 - Best Female Playback Singer - (Song: "Vennello godari andham")
1992 - Best Female Playback Singer - (Song: "Inji Idippazagha")
1986 - Kalaimamani from the Government of Tamil Nadu
2002 - Cinema 'Achiever Award' from the Government of Kerala
2005 - Special Jury Swaralaya Yesudas Award for outstanding performance in music
2009 - Honorary doctorate from the University of Mysore for contributions to Kannada Cinema