S. Janaki's journey into music began at the young age of three, where she was trained and guided by Sree Paidiswamy, who strengthened her musical interests over her childhood years. Advised by her uncle and mentor, Dr. Chandrashekar, S. Janaki shifted to Madras where she developed her talents further. S.Janaki's dramatic musical career then began with her singing at AVM Studio. In 1957, music director T. Chalapati Rao, offered S. Janaki her first lucky break to sing in a Tamil film 'Vidhiyin Vilayattu' and later a Telugu film MLA. Since then, S. Janaki musical career soared to great heights.
Her contributions to the music industry in South India have been immense. Performing alongside prominent names such as P. Susheela, Vani Jayaram, K J Yesudas, S P Balasubramanyam and Jayachandran, the lady was a renowned figure in the musical circuit. Besides being a spectacular singer, a brilliant lyricist and an awesome composer for Tamil and Telugu films, she has also sung innumerable songs in various Indian languages, including Hindi, Bengali, English, Sanskrit, Konkani, Oriya, Tulu, Baduga, Japanese and German. S. Janaki has also released devotional music cassettes on Meera.
Throughout her career, S. Janaki has received many awards for her efforts, dedication and contribution towards her love for music and the music industry. Some of these awards are listed below as:
- The Sur Singar Award, in 1987.
- The Government of Tamil Nadu awarded her the 'Kalai Mamani' award in 1986 and the State Film Awards for the best Playback singer, (seven times).
- The Government of Kerala awarded her the Cinema 'Achiever Award' in 2002 and the State Film Awards for the best Playback singer (fourteen times).
- The Special Jury 'Swaralaya Yesudas' Award for outstanding performance in music, in 2005.
- The National Film Awards for the best Playback singer, (four times) by the Government of India
- The State Film awards for the best Playback singer, (ten times) by the Government of Andhra Pradesh
- National Awards for songs for the following films including '16 vayadhinile' (1976, Tamil film), 'Oppol' (1980, Malayalam film), 'Sithar' (1984, Telugu film), and 'Thevar Magan' (1992, Tamil film).