Hariharan was born on 3 April 1955 in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. He is a playback singer in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam,Kannada and Telugu movies, an established ghazal singer, and one of the pioneers of Indian fusion music.
Hariharan grew up in Mumbai, and has bachelor degrees in science and law. The son of renowned Carnatic vocalists, Shrimati Alamelu and the late H.A.S. Mani (full name:anantha Subramani Iyer), Hariharan inherited his parents' musical talents. Alamelu was Hariharan's first guru (mentor). From here he picked up Carnatic music skills. He was also exposed to Hindustani music from a young age. In his teens, inspired by the songs of Mehdi Hassan and Jagjit Singh, Hariharan developed a passion for ghazals and started training in Hindustani music from Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan. The committed Hariharan also put heart and soul into learning Urdu when he decided to become a ghazal singer. He has perfected his Urdu diction to such standards that even his audiences in Lucknow, the heartland of the language, have been wowed over.
In 1977, Hariharan bagged the top prize in the All-India Sur Singaar competition and was promptly signed on by the late music director Jaidev to sing for the Hindi film Gaman. His debut song "Ajeeb Saaneha Mujh Par Guzar Gaya Yaaron" in that movie became such a hit that it won Hariharan an Uttar Pradesh state award, as well as a Best Singer National Award nomination, and Hariharan's playback singing career took off. He also sang the title track for a number of TV serials.
His Ghazal album "Gulfam" fetched him the Diva Award for the Best Album of the Year in 1994.
Hariharan has also acted in a Tamil film with Khushboo, titled Power of Women & also played cameo roles in the Tamil film Boys & the Malayalam film Millennium Stars.
In 2004, he was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri and Yesudas Award for his outstanding performance in music.His newest Ghazal album "Lahore ke rang, Hari ke sang" with renowned ghazal composers from Pakistan won him rave reviews and critical acclaim inside and outside india
He also had the chance to sing in front of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.