Gayathri Rajapur Kassebaum is a disciple of gottuvadyam exponent Sangita Kalanidhi Sri Budalur Krishna Murthy Sastrigal (one of the pioneers in setting a gottuvadyam style) and a grand performer of (Gottuvadyam and vocal).  She earned sangita Vidwan from Karnatic Music College Madras in mid 1950s (voice and gottuvadyam) where Tiruppambarm Swaminatha Pillai and Srimati Brindamma, Mayavaram Krishna Iyer were teaching in the college. She was a student of late sangita Kalanidhi Musiri Subhramanya Iyer.  She earned Ph.D. from University of Washington, and earlier an M.A. in ethnomusicology from University of Hawaii and B.A. from Karnatic University Dharwar while she taught Karnatic music at the music department.

She has done extensive field research on folk music of Karnataka and has performed classical music in India, the United States and in Europe.  She served as lecturer in Karnatic music at the University of Hawaii and the University of Washington.  She has given lecture cum demonstrations related to Karnatic music at the Music Academy of Madras, at annual meetings of the Society for Ethnomusicology and other professional conferences in China, Korea and Cambodia.   Her publications include Ïmprovisation in Alapana Peformance: a comparative view of raga Shankarabhana in the Yearbook for Traditional Music 19:14-64 New York: Columbia University Press; “Regional Music Traditions of Karnataka” and “Ragas in Southern Areas of India”  in the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music  as well as reviews in the scholarly journal Ethnomusicology.  In 2014 she set to tunes a collection of chants titled Sung Chants of Tiruvannamalai. (album available on Youtube).

Awards include Scholarship from Government of Mysore and Central Government, National Endowment for the Humanities (USA) and the American Institute of Indian Studies. She has now returned to India and lives in Bangalore. She has resumed performances (both vocal and gottuvadyam).