Born on 11 July 1931 in Pudukkottai, Tamil Nadu, Shri K. Chellaiah received his training
in the Thavil from S. Natesa Pillai. Besides Thavil, he plays the Kanjira.
Performing continuously for many decades, Shri K. Chellaiah has won a reputation as a front-ranking Thavil artist. Besides traditional sites of performance, he has been featured in major musical events both at home and abroad. He has provided percussion support to several musicians in ensembles, notably A.K.C Natarajan, the Subramania Pillai brothers and Shanmuga Sundaram Pillai. He has many available recordings of his music.
Shri K. Chellaiah has received a number of honours for his work in traditional music. These include the Kalaimamani title bestowed by the Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram, and the title Thavil Selvam conferred by Muthamil Peravai, Chennai.
Shri K. Chellaiah receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Tagore Award for his contribution to Carnatic instrumental music – Thavil.