She began her career as a soloist at age 13. Later in Chennai, she was guided by the revered veena vidushi the late Smt.Kalpakam Swaminathan. Nirmala has trained with her for nearly 30 years.Her vocal Gurus are Sri B.Sitarama Sarma and Prof T.R. Subramanyam. Her music has been described as 'Sublime', 'creative and innovative yet seeped in traditional values', ' masterful and soulful'.
Nirmala has performed in many world renowned venues such as the United Nations and Carnegie Hall, New York City, USA; Ted Mann concert Hall, Minneapolis, MN; Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis, MN; BBC, London, England; Kongresshaus, Zurich, Switzerland; Musee Rietberg, Zurich, Switzerland; Bali, Indonesia; Music Academy, Chennai, India; Narada Gana Sabha, Chennai, India; Chembur Fine Arts, Mumbai, India; Bangalore Gayana Samaja, India and the Ravindra Kalakshethra, Bangalore, India.
She is the artistic director of the school Naadha Rasa (Essence of Tone), Center for Music. Performances of her ensemble have been seen and heard at many venues in the USA and on radio and television.
Nirmala travels around the world teaching and performing Carnatic Music vocally and on her veena She is an active collaborator and has written and performed with many disciplines including western classical music, jazz, chinese music, poetry and dance.
Several awards and honors have been given to Nirmala as recognition for her many contributions to the music world and passionate spreading of the veena and Carnatic music.