The culture of India is one of the oldest and unique. In India, there is amazing cultural diversity throughout the country. The South, North, and Northeast have their own distinct cultures and almost every state has carved out its own cultural niche. There is hardly any culture in the world that is as varied and unique as India. India is a vast country, having variety of geographical features and climatic conditions. India is home to some of the most ancient civilizations, including four major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kishore Kumar

Birth Name: Abhas Kumar Kanjilal Ganguly
Born: 4 August 1929, Khandwa, Central Provinces and Berar
Died: 13 October 1987 (aged 58), Bombay, Maharashtra
Genres: Playback, Rabindra Sangeet, Bengali Songs, Rock and Roll
Occupations: Singer, Actor, Playback Singer, Director, Musician, Producer
Years Active: 1946-1987

Kishor Kumar
Born as Abhas Kumar Ganguly on 4th August, 1929, this great singer known as Kishore Kumar, affectionately called Kishore Da, was one of those very few singers who took risks and experimented with different styles of music. Considered to be a legend in Hindi film world, this multi talented persona has excelled as a playback singer, actor, composer, lyrics writer, director, producer and script writer. The songs of Kishore Kumar have an extraordinary blend of romance, emotions, naughtiness and melancholy. We attempt to present the life history of Kishor Kumar in this short biography.

Kishore Kumar was born in a small place known as Khandwa located in the state of Madhya Pradesh. He was born in a typical Bengali family and was the youngest among his siblings. He had two elder brothers (Ashok Kumar and Anoop Kumar) and a sister (Sati Devi). His father Kunjilal Ganguly was a lawyer by profession and his mother Gauri Devi was from a well-to-do family. When his eldest brother Ashok Kumar became an actor, Kishore Kumar was still quite young. Later on, his second brother also ventured into movies to become an actor.

Kishor Kumar with M. Rafi
Kishore Kumar also started to show interest in music and often mimicked the great K.L. Saigal. Though he did not have any formal training in music, he decided to pursue it and followed his brothers to Mumbai. It was his dream to become a famous playback singer and be counted among legends. He would often go to the studios and ask producers if he could sing on the movie's soundtrack. Initially he could not develop a style of his own but nevertheless he perfectly imitated K.L. Saigal. Once, the great S.D Burman had come to Ashok Kumar's house to meet up when he heard Kishore singing. He actually thought it was K.L. Saigal singing and inquired if he was there too! When he came to know that it was Kishore singing, he truly appreciated and encouraged the young lad to continue refining his voice but at the same time, develop a style of his own.

Kishor Kumar
Kishore kept this advice in mind and went on develop his own signature style. He perfected yodeling, a unique style he heard amongst the Austrian music collections of his brother Anoop. In Hindi film industry, his yodeling turned out to be widely popular and became a trademark of Kishore Kumar. His songs sounded absolutely natural, like laughter. He used to incorporate non-sensical terms into his songs and give it an entirely new feel. The ability to transform his voice according to not just the scene but also the actor is something that was truly incredible of Kishore. He has sung soulful songs for Dev Anand and also fun filled songs for Rajesh Khanna.

Kishor Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar
After Rajesh Khanna went out of the scene, Kishore Kumar belted out chart topping hits for superstar Amitabh Bachchan. When R.D. Burman stormed the music world, Kishore Kumar re-surfaced with hits like Roop Tera Mastana and many other melodious songs. Some films that deserve a special mention are Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin, Kinara, Dream Girl, Anurodh, Sharabi, Mr. Natwarlal, Gol Maal, Dostana, Manzil, Padosan, Shalimar, Khatta Meetha, Kasme Vaade, Ghar, Don, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, Dilli Ka Thug, etc.

When his popularity began to diminish during mid 80's, he retired and wanted to return back to Khandwa, his native place. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. On October 13th 1987, co-incidentally the birthday of his elder brother Ashok Kumar, Kishore suffered a heart attack and breathed his last. His untimely and unexpected death shocked the entire nation. Kishore Kumar married four times and his eldest son Amit Kumar also ventured into the world of music.

Kishor Kumar and Madhubal
Personal Life

Kishore Kumar married four times. His first wife was Bengali singer and actress Ruma Guha Thakurta aka Ruma Ghosh. Their marriage lasted from 1950 to 1958.

Kishore's second wife was actress Madhubala, who had worked with him on many films including his home production Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958) and Jhumroo (1961). When Kishore Kumar proposed to her, Madhubala was sick and was planning to go to London for treatment. At this time, she didn't know that she had a ventricular septal defect, and her father wanted her to wait and consult the London doctors first.
Kishor Kumar and Leena Chandavarkar
Furthermore, at the time he was married to Ruma. After his divorce, because Kishore Kumar was Bengali Hindu and Madhubala Muslim, they had a civil wedding ceremony in 1960. His parents refused to attend. The couple also had a Hindu ceremony to please Kumar's parents, but Madhubala was never truly accepted as his wife. Within a month of her wedding she moved back to her bungalow in Bandra because of tension in the Kishore Kumar household. They remained married but under great strain for the remainder of Madhubala's life. The doctors in London told Madhubala that she would not live for long. The marriage lasted for nine years, and ended with Madhubala's death on 23 February 1969.

Kishore Kumar's third marriage was to Yogeeta Bali, and lasted from 1976 to 4 August 1978. Kishore was married to Leena Chandavarkar from 1980 until his death. Kishore Kumar sired two sons, Amit Kumar (playback singer) with Ruma, and Sumit Kumar with Leena Chandavarkar.

More Details of Kishor Kumar and  List of songs by Kishor Kumar

Jagjit Singh

Birth Name: Jagmohan Singh
Born: 8 February 1941, Sri Ganganagar, Bikaner State, India
Died: 10 October 2011 (aged 70) Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Genres: Ghazal, Classical, Devotional, Folk
Occupations: Composer, Singer, Playback Singer, Music Director, Activist, Entrepreneur
Instruments: Vocals, Harmonium, Tanpura, Piano
Years active: 1965–2011
Labels: EMI, HMV, Saregama, Universal Music, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Polydor, TIPS, Venus, T-Series, Magna Sound, Big Music, Times Music

Jagjit Singh
Jagjit Singh, born Jagmohan Singh (8 February 1941 – 10 October 2011), was a prominent Indian Ghazal singer, songwriter and musician. Known as the "Ghazal King", he gained acclaim together with his wife, another renowned Indian ghazal singer Chitra Singh in the 1970s and 1980s. Their combination album comprising music from the films, Arth and Saath Saath is the HMV's largest selling combination album of all time. Sajda (An Offering, 1991), Jagjit Singh's magnum opus double album with Lata Mangeshkar holds the same record in non-film category. He sang in numerous languages. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the government of India in 2003.

Singh is credited for the revival and popularity of ghazal, an Indian classical art form, by choosing poetry that was relevant to the masses and composing them in a way that laid more emphasis on the meaning of words and melody evoked by them. In terms of Indian Classical music, his style of composing and Gayaki (singing) is considered as Bol-pradhan, one that lays emphasis on words. He highlighted this in his music for films such as Prem Geet (1981), Arth and Saath Saath (1982), and TV serials Mirza Ghalib (1988) and Kahkashan (1991). Jagjit Singh is considered to be the most successful ghazal singer and composer of all time in terms of critical acclaim and commercial success. With a career spanning over five decades and a repertoire comprising over 80 albums,[1] the range and breadth of his work has been regarded as genre-defining. He is the only composer and singer to have composed and recorded songs written by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee — also a critically acclaimed poet — in two albums, Nayi Disha (1999) and Samvedna (2002).

Singh's 1987 album, Beyond Time, was the first digitally recorded release in India. He was regarded as one of India's most influential artistes. With sitar legend Ravi Shankar and other leading figures of Indian classical music and literature, Singh voiced his concerns over politicisation of arts and culture in India and lack of support experienced by the practitioners of India's traditional art forms, particularly folk artists and musicians. He lent active support to several philanthropic endeavors such as the library at St. Mary's School, Mumbai, Bombay Hospital, CRY, Save the Children and ALMA.

Early Life And Career

Jagjit Singh and Chitra SinghJagjit Singh was born on 8 February 1941 in Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan, India. His birth name was Jagmohan but this was changed to Jagjit after his parents sought the advice of a member of the Sikh Namdhari sect. His parents were Sikhs — Amar Singh and Bachan Kaur — and had several other children, with sources variously reporting the number between six and eleven.

Educated initially at Khalsa High School and Sri Ganganagar Government College, Singh obtained an arts degree from DAV College at Jalandhar and then a post-graduate degree in history from Kurukshetra University in Haryana. Throughout this time, and as a consequence of a natural talent that was spotted by his father, Singh learned music in Sikh temples and from musicians such as Pandit Chaganlal Sharma and Ustad Jamaal Khan, both of whom were trained in classical Indian music. He performed on radio and on stage, as well as composing some material, although he subsequently claimed that his father, who was a government employee, had hoped that he would become an engineer. On another occasion his memory was that his father aspired for him to become a bureaucrat and that his siblings were encouraged musically.

In March 1965, and without the knowledge of his family,Singh moved to Mumbai, where there were many opportunities for music artists because of the Bollywood film industry. He obtained work initially as a singer of advertising jingles and later progressed to playback singing.In the same year he persuaded the record company HMV to produce an EP; he also altered his Sikh image by abandoning his turban, shaving and cutting his hair. His first film role was in Dharati Na Chhoru, a Gujarati production by Suresh Amin.


Jagjit Singh with Chitra SinghSingh was still struggling to make a living in 1967 when he met the Bengali-born Chitra Dutta.She was also a jingle singer and was unhappily married with a daughter. She divorced her husband and married Singh in December 1969.Following the birth of their son, Vivek, the couple performed as a singing duo but it was not until the 1976 release of the album The Unforgettables that they found significant, and surprising, success. In the interval, the primary difficulty for them had been that the ghazal music genre was dominated by Muslim artists and especially those from Pakistan.

The Unforgettables, which was the couple's first LP, was an unconventional recording and it turned them into stars. The song "Baat Niklegi" from the album achieved great popularity for the Singhs. The Independent described it in 2011 as "ground-breaking ... it became a transformative, before-and-after milestone in the history of Indian popular and ghazal music. It remains that." Using modern arrangements, it consists of ten tracks that include two on which they sang as a duo and the remainder equally split between Jagjit and Chitra singing the lead. The Independent further noted that "This format of solo and duet performances from the first commercially successful husband-and-wife team in Indian popular music proved astonishingly successful." Jagjit explained that "I was determined to polish up the genre and make it more acceptable to modern tastes, so chose simple poems and set them to simple tunes. I also introduced western instrumentation to make them livelier." Thereafter, the couple worked both on solo and joint musical projects and performed concerts worldwide. There was success from involvement with the film industry and they amassed considerable wealth, while Jagjit became known as "the Ghazal king".

Jagjit SinghJagjit Singh's work in film encompassed playback singing for productions such as Arth, Saath Saath and Premgeet. He composed all of the songs for the latter, as well as for the TV serial Mirza Ghalib that was based on the life of the eponymous poet, Mirza Ghalib.

Among their subsequent duo recordings of the 1970s were Shiv Kumar Batalvi – Birha da Sultan (1978), Live in Concert at Wembley (1979) and Come Alive (1979). Of those released in the 1980s, Ecstasies (1984) has been described as "one of their finest". The joint projects ceased in 1990 when their 18-year-old son, Vivek, was killed in a road accident. Chitra felt unable to sing following these events. Monica, Chitra's daughter from her first marriage, committed suicide in 2009.

Although Jagjit continued to work and to have success after Chitra withdrew from public life he, too, was affected by the death of Vivek. The Guardian notes that he "suffered from deep depression and his anguish was often evident in his live performances." Aside from occupying himself with solo projects, which he performed in several languages,[6] he collaborated with Lata Mangeshkar on an album titled Sajda, an Urdu word meaning "prostration".

Jagjit SinghOn 10 May 2007, in the presence of numerous political and diplomatic luminaries at an event held in the Central Hall of the Parliament of India, Jagjit Singh rendered Bahadur Shah Zafar's famous ghazal Lagta nahin hai dil mera to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.


Singh toured the UK in 2011 and was due to perform with Ghulam Ali in Mumbai but suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on 23 September 2011. He was in a coma for over two weeks and died on 10 October 2011 at Lilavati Hospital, in Mumbai. He was cremated the following day at Chandanwadi Crematorium in Mumbai.

A number of tributes have been paid to Singh after his death, and some tried to encash his popularity which was criticised by his wife.


  • In 2003, Singh was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian award, by the government of India
  • In 1998, Jagjit Singh was awarded Sahitya Academy Award, a literary honor in India. He was awarded for popularizing the work of Mirza Ghalib.
  • Sangeet Natak Academy Award
  • Sahitya Kala Academy Award by Rajasthan government in 1998
  • Ghalib Academy by Delhi Government in 2005
  • Dayavati Modi Award
  • Lata Mangeshkar Samman in 1998 by Madhya Pradesh government
  • D. Litt. by Kurukshetra University, Haryana in 2003
  • Teacher's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006

More Details of Jagjit Singh

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Begum Akhtar

Birth Name: Akhtaribai Faizabadi
Born: October 7, 1914
Origin: Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: October 30, 1974 (aged 60)
Genres: Ghazal, Thumri, Dadra
Occupations: Musician, Singer, Playback Singer
Years active: 1929–1974

Begum Akhtar
Begum Akhtar was born on 7th October, 1914 in Faizabad town of Uttar Pradesh. Her name was Akhtaribai Faizabadi though she was much popular as Begum Akhtar. Her family belonged to the upper class of the society and was not even inclined towards music. She showed interest in music at a very young age and was sent to train under the great sarangi player, Ustad Imdad Khan. Later, she learnt classical music from great exponents of this field like Mohammad Khan, Abdul Waheed Khan and Ustad Jhande Khan Saheb. Read the life history of Begum Akhtar in this short biography.

At the tender age of fifteen she gave her first public performance. People were moved by her voice and she gained instant recognition. Her ghazals even impressed the famous poetess of India, Sarojini Naidu and was appreciated at a concert that was organized for helping victims of Bihar earthquake. Her first recording was done by the Megaphone Record Company and they released many gramophone records with her melodious Ghazals, thumris, dadras, etc. In 1930's, Begum Akhtar also acted in a few Hindi films which include Ameena (1934), Mumtaz Begum (1934), Jawaani Ka Nasha (1935), Naseeb Ka Chakkar (1935). In all these films, she sang all her songs herself.

Begum Akhtar
Begum Akhtar moved back to Lucknow after a while where the renowned director Mehboob Khan approached her for a film titled "Roti". The music was composed by the famous Anil Biswas. The movie was released in the year 1942 in which Begum Akhtar had sung six Ghazals. Unfortunately, four of the Ghazals were deleted due to some tension between the producer and the director. The film was appreciated by one and all and the music took the industry by storm.

Begum Akhtar married barrister Ishtiaq Ahmed Abbasi in the year 1945. Due to family restrictions, Begum Akhtar could not sing for almost five years. She fell ill and her only medicine was music. In the year 1949, she returned to record at the Lucknow Radio station and sang three Ghazals and a dadra. She felt so satisfied and happy that she wept with joy. She then continued to give public performances and sing in concerts till she passed away.

Begum Akhtar was persuaded by Madan Mohan, a famous music director to sing in two movies "Daana Paani" (1953) and "Ehsaan" (1954). The songs "Aye Ishq Mujhe Aur to Kuch Yaad" and "Hamein Dil Mein Basa Bhi Lo" were absolutely melodious and were liked by one and all. Her last movie stint was that of a classical singer in Satyajit Ray's film "Jalsa Ghar". Begum Akhtar was a refined Ghazal singer and was called as Mallika-e-Ghazal or the Queen of Ghazals. Her style of singing is inimitable and few can match upto her style. Most compositions were self composed and based on Ragas.

Begum Akhtar performed last in a concert in Ahmedabad. That day she felt that her voice was not upto the mark and raised her pitch. This put much stress on her and her health deteriorated. The situation became critical and she had to be rushed to the hospital. She breathed her last on 30th October 1974, leaving many fans disappointed and heart broken.

More Details of Begum Akhtar

Asha Bhosle

Birth Name: Asha Mangeshkar
Born: September 8, 1933 (age 78), Sangli, Bombay Presidency, British India
Genres: Pop, Folk, Indian classical music
Occupations: Singer, Playback Singer
Years Active: 1943–present

Asha Bhosle
With versatility as her middle name, the famous Asha Bhosle still sings the way she used to during her prime. Though she is over 70 years of age, she still continues to give stiff competition to singers who are half her age. This talented singer can sing a ghazal and a peppy cabaret number with amazing levels of energy and style. Be it the romantic "Oh Mere Sona Re" or the sensuous "Aaiye Meherban" or the peppy "Kambakth Ishq", Asha Bhonsle can add life to any song. Her life history is no less than a roller coaster ride. Check out the biography of Asha Bhonsle as given here.

Asha Bhosle was born on 8th September, 1933 in a Marathi family. Her father was the renowned singer and actor Dinanath Mangeshkar. He trained her in classical music at a very young age. Though she had her brush with acting as a child artist, it was quite natural for her to choose playback singing like her older sister Lata Mangeshkar. Sadly, her father expired suddenly in the year 1942 causing much commotion in her family. They had to move from Pune to Bombay and settle again. Asha got the chance to sing in a Marathi film when she was ten years old. Her initial years saw a lot of struggle since her elder sister Lata was in much demand and unfair comparisons rose every now and then.

Rahul Dev Burman With Asha Bhosle
In the year 1948 she got to make her playback debut in Hindi in a film called Chunariya. The song was called "Saawan Aaya" and Asha was noticed for her different playful voice. When she was 16, she eloped with Lata's personal secretary Ganpatrao Bhosle and married him much against the family's wishes. The marriage failed miserably and Asha Bhosle was driven out by Ganpatrao following some misunderstanding. She came back to her maternal home with two kids and pregnant with the third one. However, this did not deter her from pursuing her dreams and she continued to sing for films. During 1950's she got assignments that were rejected by leading singers like Geeta Dutt, Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum.

Kishor Kumar With Asha Bhosle
These songs were basically meant for the sidelined roles like vamps, cabaret numbers or C-grade movies. It took a lot of perseverance from Asha to make it to the top. Her hard work and efforts paid off when she was given her first big break with the movie C.I.D (1956). Under the patronage of O.P Nayyar she got more and more offers and began belting out hits after hits. She tasted huge success with the movie Naya Daur (1957). With O. P Nayyar, Asha gave out hits after hits like Aaiye Meherban, Deewana Hua Badal, Isharon Isharon Mein, Aao Huzur Tumko, Ude Jab Jab Zulfein Teri, etc. The last song she recorded with him was "Chain Se" of the movie "Pran Jaaye Par Vachan Na Jaaye" (1974) and then parted ways.

 Rafi & Asha Bhosle
She was noticed by other music directors like S.D Burman after the phenomenal success of these songs. She and S.D Burman created many hit soundtracks for movies like Kaala Pani, Kaala Bazaar, Insaan Jaag Utha, Lajwanti, Sujata and Teen Deviyaan. Most famous of these songs were Asha Bhosle's duets with Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar. After the mid 60's Asha collaborated with R.D Burman and reached the peak of her career. The movie "Teesri Manzil" released in 1966 shot her to fame and she won popular acclaim. The duo of Asha and R.D Burman produced hits after hits and their collaboration resulted in marriage.

Asha Bhosle
Asha became the voice of Helen, one of the most graceful dancers of that era. Helen would visit Asha during her recordings to understand the feel of the song and choreograph her steps accordingly. Some of her evergreen hits featuring Helen are Piya Tu Ab To Aaja (Caravan), O Haseena Zulfon Wali (Teesri Manzil), and Yeh Mera Dil (Don). A popular song "Jaane Jaa" from the movie Jawaani Diwaani (1972) required her to switch from high pitch to low almost simultaneously which she did with utmost ease and perfection. The song "Dum Maro Dum" of the movie "Hare Rama Hare Krishna" showed an entirely new side of her talent. The romantic "Chura Liya Hai Tumne" from the movie "Yaadon Ki Baarat" is hummed even today and is considered to be one of the most romantic songs of this century.

Asha proved critics wrong in 1980's when she sang beautiful Ghazals for the movie Umrao Jaan. She proved that she can sing classical with as much panache as other genres. The great composer Khayyam told her to sing two notes lower than usual. The rest as they say is history! The songs turned out to be chart toppers and till date are sung with much elegance and respect, though it is picturized on a courtesan. In the 90's she experimented with peppy numbers and produced hits like Tanha Tanha, Yaire, Kambakth Ishq, Chori Pe Chori, etc. she also a number of pop albums to her credit and has acquired international by singing with artists like Boy George, Black Eyed Peas and cricketer Brett Lee. She has many awards including eight Filmfare awards and two National Awards apart from numerous other accolades. Time has really not touched her voice and she sounds exactly like what she used to sound 30 years back.

More Details of Asha Bhosle

Alka Yagnik

Birth Name: Alka
Height: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
Born: 20 March 1966 (age 46), Kolkata, West Bengal
Genres: Bollywood and regional filmi playback singing
Occupations: Singer, Playback Singer
Instruments: Vocals
Years Active: 1979–present

Alka Yagnik
Alka Yagnik is one of the leading singers of the Hindi film who has made an indelible mark for herself. In an industry where big and already established names were ruling, it was not easy for anyone to even get noticed. But real talent never goes waste and she finally got her big break after which there was no turning back.

Alka Yagnik was born in Kolkata to a Gujarati family. Her mother Shubha Yagnik was a singer of Indian classical music. At the age of 6, she started singing for Calcutta Radio. At age 10, her mother brought her to Bombay as a child singer.

She was advised to wait till her voice matured but her mother remained determined and on a subsequent visit, Alka got a letter of introduction to Raj Kapoor from his Kolkata distributor. Raj heard the girl and sent her with a letter to noted music director Laxmikant. Impressed, Laxmikant gave her two alternatives - an immediate start as a dubbing artist, or a later break as a singer.

Alka Yagnik is classically trained and has been one of the leading playback singers in Bollywood since the late 1980's. She began singing bhajans for Calcutta Radio at the age of six. Her first song was for the film Payal Ki Jhankaar in (1979), followed by Laawaris (1981) with the hit song "Mere Angene Mein", followed by the film Hamari Bahu Alka (1982). She got her big break with the song "Ek Do Teen" from the film Tezaab (1988). The song turned her into a star overnight and went on to become a pop hit, also winning her a Filmfare Best Female Playback Award. Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak was also a career maker for her, as she along with Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu and Kavita Krishnamurthy became household names.

Alka Yagnik Singing With Kumar sanu
She has sung in many languages other than Hindi, including Gujarati, Oriya, Assamese, Nepali, Rajasthani, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam. In addition, she has been the number one choice for film songs due to the versatility of her voice, in which more film heroines have requested her voice be dubbed over their performance. She has worked with many Indian composers such as, Kalyanji-Anandji, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, A R Rahman, Anand-Milind, Viju Shah, Himesh Reshammiya, Shankar-Eshaan-Loy, and others. Additionally, she is the personal favorite of composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Anu Malik, Rakesh Roshan, Nadeem-Shravan, and Jatin-Lalit, for whom she is the first choice for their compositions.

She shares the title with Asha Bhonsle for the most number of Filmfare Awards won (7) by a single female playback singer. Alka has also been the judge of various Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge shows, and Star Voice of India, both singing competition shows, in which children or adults of various age groups compete with one another to win the award for best vocals. In addition to this, her song "Chamma Chamma" from China Gate was featured in the song "Hindi Sad Diamonds" from the soundtrack of the film Moulin Rouge!.

Alka Yagnik's voice is the sound of many young-generation heroines of the present day. She has done playback-singing for many famous actresses such as Rakhee Gulzar, Hema Malini, Farida Jalal, Rekha, Kajol, and Preity Zinta. Besides Hindi-language songs, she has also sung in Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, and Punjabi.

In 2012 she along with Sonu Nigam sang a song 'Shiksha Ka Suraj' as part of National Literacy Mission of India. She has also been involved in various projects pertaining to empowerment of the girl child .

List of songs by Alka Yagnik

Abhijeet Bhattacharya

Birth Name: Abhijeet
Born: 30 October 1958 (age 53), Kanpur, India
Genres: Bollywood, regional filmi playback
Occupations: Singer, Playback Singer
Years Active: 1985–present
Spouse: Sumati Bhattacharya

Abhijeet Bhattacharya
Abhijeet was born in a Bengali family in Kanpur, the youngest of four. He passed his matriculation from Ramakrishna Mission Higher Secondary School, Kanpur and Class XII from BNSD Inter College Chunni Ganj, Kanpur; and graduated in commerce (B.Com.) from Christ Church College, Kanpur in 1977. He started singing on stage from 1970.

Abhijeet was born as Abhijeet Bhattacharya, in a middle-class Bengali family from Kanpur (UP). His parents were against his singing but Abhijeet went against his parent's wishes to become a singer. In Kanpur his family members were all musical, and educated professionals. Money was never a contextual concern. In Kanpur education and culture was all his family courted, leisure was driving around the tree-lined lanes on bicycles. Confident and feted for his success, today the star-singer lives in a Bollywood dream bungalow (named Sunny vistas) of white fa├žade and red-tiled roof.

He was the apple of the community eye for his singing talents and Pampered and cosseted by a fond family, Abhijeet was the youngest of four brothers. He came to Mumbai in 1981 to study Chartered Accountancy. But owing to his fascination for singing and music he decided to pursue a career in playback singing. Despite being gifted with a melodious voice, he had to struggle for a very long time.

Abhijeet Bhattacharya
During his struggle period due to economic constraints Abhijeet had to reside in tiny rooms and stingy guesthouses. He returned to Kanpur but each time was drawn to the magnetism of Mumbai with a dream to be fulfilled. He was packing his bags after a long struggle in Bombay when he received a call from R.D. Burman to sing for Dev Anands son's debut film. Abhijeet also got to sing with Kishore Kumar, his idol, in the same film. It all happened to Abhijeet as he received a new lease of life when music director Ravindra Jain, gave him an offer to live with him. It was during his stay with Ravindra that Abhijeet's proximity to Bollywood grew in a phased and gradual manner. He began visiting R.D. Burman's residence and started getting frequent opportunities to sing for stage shows. Abhijeet got opportunities to sing as a chorus singer for music directors Rajesh Roshan and Jagjit Singh.

It was R.D. Burman who acted like a mentor to Abhijeet and gave him his first break as a playback singer in Dev Anand's Anand Aur Anand. The song was 'Waadon ki shaam aayi, yaaron ke naam aayi'. But the film flopped and he was struggling to find work again. For quite a few years after that he resorted to singing cover versions of Kishore Kumar hits.

In the 1990s he got his due rewards when the songs of Baaghi of Anand-Milind, 'Ek chanchal shokh hasina', 'Chandni raat hai' and 'Har kasam se badi hai' were Superhits. Today Abhijeet is one of the top names when it comes to male playback singers. He has entrenched himself firmly in the music world, with several other hits like 'Ole Ole' in Yeh Dillagi, the title track of Main Khiladi Tu Anari, 'Zara sa Jhoom loo main' Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge 'Teri ankhen jhuki jhuki' Fareb, 'Shaher Ki ladki' Rakshak, 'Jhanjhriya' Krishna, 'Tan tana tan tan tara' Judwaa. Be it a Sunil Shetty, Anil Kapoor, Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan, or Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan and now Hrithik Roshan, Abhijeet has sung for them all. He performed for many films like Baaghi, Sadak, Khiladi, Raja Babu, Yeh Dillagi, Yes Boss, Baadshah, Josh and Dhadkan and many more. After his success in playback singing he thought of singing pop. He launched two albums, Main Deewana Hoon and Tapori No. 1. But both albums did not click commercially. After these two pop albums, he launched Aashiqui, which was appreciated by audience. Recently he has launched a pop album, Tere Bina, whose songs and video are chartbusters.

He won the Filmfare Award and Screen Award for the best singer for his song 'Main Koi Aisa Geet Gaoon' in Yes Boss. He also won the MTV ASIA Award 2004. After that singing with most of the big banner movies and top music composers, the singer has once again hit the top charts.

List of songs by Abhijeet Bhattacharya

Friday, June 15, 2012


Birth Name: Ramtanu Pandey
Born: c.1506
Died: 1589
Genres: Hindustani Classical Music
Occupations: Classical Mughal Era Vocalist

Mia Tansen (born 1493 or 1506 – died 1586 or 1589 as Ramtanu Pandey) is considered among the greatest composer-musicians in Hindustani classical music. He was an extraordinarily gifted vocalist, known for a large number of compositions, and also an instrumentalist who popularized and improved the plucked rabab (of Central Asian origin). .Considered as the greatest musician in India, Tansen (1506 - 1589) is instrumental in the creation of the classical music that dominates the north of India. He was considered as one of the Navaratnas (Nine Gems) in the court of Emperor Akbar. Tansen was born in a Hindu family in a place called Gwalior located in Madhya Pradesh. His father was a famous poet by the name of Mukund Mishra. Tansen was named Tannu Mishra when he was born. To know more about the fascinating life history of this great musician, go through this biography of Mian Tansen.

He received the prefix "Mian" from Emperor Akbar. As a young boy, Tansen learnt music from his Guru, Shri Haridas Swamy. He was considered to be a legendary teacher of that time. It is said that Tansen has no equal apart from his teacher. Such was his passion for music that he is said to have performed astonishing miracles merely by singing. He could bring rain by singing in a particular Raag known as Megh Malhar. Similarly he could start a fire by singing in Raag Deepak. He has also composed several Ragas that have been the foundation of classical music like Bhairav, Darbari Todi, Darbari Kanada, Malhar, Sarang and Rageshwari.

Tomb of Tansen
There is no particular evidence of the origin of each and every school of music. Since he is the greatest musician, every school of music tries to trace its origin from him. The Dhrupad style of music is likely to have been started by him and his Guru. Some of his important works on music are the Rajmala and Sangeet Sara. Such was the power of his music that when he used to sing in the court of Akbar, candles used to light up automatically. Even today, Tansen is considered to be the greatest of all and there is no comparison when it comes to his style of singing. His contribution to the world of music is priceless and is still worshipped by leading singers and composers of the world.

M.S Subbulakshmi

Birth Name: Subbulakshmi (Kunjamma to her family)
Born: September 16, 1916, Madurai, Madras Presidency, India
Origin: India
Died: December 11, 2004 (aged 88), Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Genres: Indian classical music
Occupations: Classical Vocalist
Years Active: 1930–2004
Labels: HMV

M.S Subbulakshmi
M.S Subbulakshmi is a name that is synonymous with the world of Carnatic music. This flawless singer whose voice had a divine power is the first singer in India to be presented with the Bharat Ratna, the highest award given to any civilian. Born on 16th September, 1916 in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, this singer had a family that had a musical background. Her full name was Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi and she was fondly known as M.S or M.S.S. Her mother tongue was Kannada. Read the life history of M S Subbalakshmi in this short biography.

M.S was introduced to Carnatic music at a very early age. She released her first album at the mere age of 10! She received training in classical carnatic music under the famous Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and then learnt Hindustani classical music under Pundit Narayan Rao Vyas. M.S gave her first public performance at Kumbakonam during Mahamaham festival. Then M.S went to the Madras Music Academy and gave a stunning performance at the age of 17. Apart from her mother tongue Kannada, M.S sang in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi, Sanskrit, Bengali, Gujarati, etc.

M.S Subbulakshmi
M.S also did her stint as an actress and one of the most memorable films was Bhakta Meera (1945). The versatile singer sang all famous Meera bhajans in her melodious voice and these bhajans are enjoyed by people even today. Her other films include Sevasadanam, Savitri and Meera (Tamil). She attained much acclaim and success in films, but they did not appeal to her after some time. She quit films and continued to give public performances and concerts.

In the year 1936, she met Sadasivam who was a freedom fighter. They both got married after four years in 1940. Sadasivam already had children from his last marriage and did not have any further children with M.S. She treated his kids like they were her own and showered them with love and affection. She was affectionately called "Amu Paati" by the kids Radha, Viji and Thangam (Sadasivam's orphaned niece adopted by M.S).

M.S Subbulakshmi
M S Subbulakshmi has performed in London (Royal Albert Hall), New York (Carnegie Hall), Canada, Far East, Moscow, etc. These performances are regarded among her best performances. She was applauded by not just Indians, but foreigners as well. People who did not even understand the language she was singing in said that she is a divine manifestation. Her fan list included Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, among other elite people. Mahatma Gandhi commented that he would rather hear Subbulakshmi speak the songs rather than hear someone else sing it.

Some of her most famous works include Suprabhatam (Early Morning Hymns), Bhajagovindam (composed by Adi Shankaracharya praising Lord Krishna), Kurai Onrum Illai (composed by Rajagopalachari), Vishnu Sahasranamam (1000 names of Lord Vishnu), Hanuman Chalisa (Prayers to Lord Hanuman), etc. Any ardent fan of Carnatic classical music is sure to have all these and much more works of M.S Subbulakshmi. Another moving composition is the song Vaishnava Janato that can bring tears to anybody. The way she sang, her devotion, her tone, her pitch, her perfect pronunciation is inimitable and flawless. She has been a recipient of innumerable awards. This great soul passed away on 11th December 2004 in Chennai at the age of 88. The rich legacy of music that she gave us will live forever.

Pandit Kumar Gandharva

Birth Name: Shivaputra Siddramayya Komkalimath
Born: April 8, 1924, Sulebhavi, Erstwhile Bombay Presidency, India
Died: January 12, 1992 (aged 67), Dewas, India
Genres: Hindustani classical music
Occupations: Singer

One of the most famous classical musicians in India was undoubtedly Pandit Kumar Gandharva. His real name was Shivaputra Siddharamayya Komkali. Pandit Kumar Gandharva was born on 8th April, 1924 in a place called Dharwad located in Karnataka. The most unique thing about him was that he refused to be tied down by any kind of Gharana and believed in being innovation and trying out his own new styles. The life history of Pandit Kumar Gandharva is truly fascinating. Read this short biography of Pt. Kumara Gandharv.

When he was still very young, Kumar Gandharva was inflicted with the deadly disease Tuberculosis. As a result, he was left with just one functioning lung. He was determined to make his mark and that is what took him to the heights he has reached in his lifetime. The title "Kumar" was given to him when he was a child because he showed extraordinary talent in music. Gandharva was the God of music according to the Hindu mythology.

Though his voice was affected after the illness, he developed his own style of singing. Though he may not have reached the same heights as his contemporaries like Bhimsen Joshi, his style won him appreciation and accolades from one and all. His style of pronunciation was unmatched and he believed that words, if pronounced properly with the correct feel can be very powerful. His style of singing also included many dramatic gestures and smiles, which was thoroughly enjoyed by his audience.

He also experimented with other genres of music like devotional songs known as "Bhajans", folk songs, etc. His unique style and creativity made him compose songs in the same Raga in both fast and slow pace; this was something rarely done by a north Indian musician. Though he refused to follow the tradition of a Gharana, he never rejected completely the rich tradition of music. The great legend passed away on 12th January, 1992, leaving behind disappointed fans but a rich legacy of classical music.

Bhimsen Joshi

Birth Name: Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi
Born: February 4, 1922, Gadag, Karnataka
Died: January 24, 2011 (aged 88), Pune, Maharashtra
Genres: Hindustani classical music
Occupations: Singer
Years Active: 1941–2011

Bhimsen Joshi
One of the most prominent and legendary Hindustani vocalist living today is of course Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. He can very easily be called a living legend and someone who has not just earned true fans but has also won over critics. Born on 4th February, 1922 in Karnataka, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is the descendant of Kirana stream of Hindustani classical music. He is famous for the "Khayal", a form of Hindustani classical. Bhimsen Joshi was interested in music since a very young age and at the age of 11 he left home in search of a Guru. Read the fascinating life history of Pt. Bhimsen Joshi in this short biography.

He found the apt teacher for him very close to his house. Under the tutelage of Savai Gandharva he learnt many ragas and perfected his tone, pitch and the best of Kirana gharana. His sheer determination and hard work has made him what he is today. In the last five decades, his popularity has increased manifold because of the intensity and passion he brings in his songs. Other concert artists truly appreciate his style and the passion that he gets into his songs. His first public performance was at the age of 19.

Bhimsen Joshi has perfected not just the Khayal interpretations but has also sung Bhajans in Hindi and Marathi. His bhajans are widely heard by not just ardent music lovers but people all over. This versatile singer has also recorded Kannada Dasa Krithis in Dasavani, which are usually sung by Carnatic musicians. His sheer grit and determination earned him his first Platinum Disc in 1986. He has also been presented the Padma Shree in 1972, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1976 and the Padma Bhushan in 1985. Perhaps some of his best performances have been at Savai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav, which is held in Pune annually. It has been a regular feature since the past 3 decades and has become an institution of sorts.

His most memorable performance that is remembered till date is of course the national integration song "Mile Sur Mera Tumhara". His golden voice appealing to Indians to come together and stand as one nation is an evergreen number that is hummed by one and all even today. He has collaborated with many other renowned musicians like Hariprasad Chaurasiya, Pandit Ravi Shankar and Dr. Balamuralikrishna and has come out with many albums. He is a living legend who continues to weave magic with his unique voice even today

Dr. Balamuralikrishna

Birth Name: Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna
Born: July 6, 1930 (age 81)
Origin: Sankaraguptam, East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh
Genres: Carnatic music
Occupations: vocalist of Indian classical music
Instruments: vocals, viola, mridangam, kanjira
Years Active: 1938–present

Dr. Balamuralikrishna
One of the most famous names associated with Classical Carnatic Music is that of Dr. Balamuralikrishna. This legendary musician and Padmabhushan awardee is an able composer, singer, poet and instrumentalist who can sing perfectly in three octaves. He was born on 6th October, 1930 in a place called Sankaraguptam located in Andhra Pradesh. He was named Murali Krishnan by his father. The prefix Bala was given by a Hari Katha performer Musunuri Satyanarayana and thereafter he came to be known as Balamuralikrishna. Read the interesting life history of Dr. M Balamurali Krishnan in this short biography.

As a young boy of five, Balamuralikrishna had started to give musical concerts. His brilliant voice gained him instant fame and recognition. He was touted as a child prodigy who perfected almost every song and every tune. His father Pattabiramayya was a very popular musician who perfected the Flute, Veena and Violin. His mother Suryakantamma played the Veena perfectly. Balamuralikrishnan perfected Violin, Viola, Khanjira, Veena and Mrudangam. In India, he is the only musician who has won National Awards for classical music, music direction as well as film playback singing.

Dr. Balamurali Krishnan has immensely contributed to the world of Carnatic music. He was not content with the fame and recognition that he gained by performing in concerts. So he composed a detailed work known as Raganga Ravali on 72 Melakarta (basic scales of Carnatic music). All this at the mere age of 14! Balamurali Krishnan also has over 400 compositions in different music scales that are widely accepted by music lovers and critics alike. He has also created many new ragas Like Mahati, Sumukham, Trisakthi, Sarvashri, Omkari, Janasamodini, Manorama, Rohini, Vallabhi, Lavangi, Pratimadhyamavathi, Sushama, etc.

Dr. Balamuralikrishna has contributed a lot in the world of music. He established the "Academy of Performing Arts and Research" in Switzerland. He is also working on music therapy. For extensive research in the field of music therapy, he also established the MBK Trust to develop art and culture and spread the knowledge. "Vipanchee", a dance and music school is a part of this trust and is managed by his trustee Kalaimamani Saraswati.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan

Birth Name: Bade Ghulam Ali Khan
Also known as: Sabrang
Born: April 2, 1902, Kasur, Punjab, British India
Died: April 25, 1968, Hyderabad, India
Genres: Hindustani classical music
Occupations: Singer
Years active: ? - 1967

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan
One name that truly epitomizes the 20th century Hindustani classical music tradition is that of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Often touted as the Tansen of 20th Century, this music maestro has blended the best of classical music and created a unique style of his own. His style of music had an effervescent melodic quality with a sense of enthusiasm. He had one of the most flexible voices, which could easily master the flow of words and deliver the real essence of the song. This great musician has contributed immensely in his short career span. Read his life history in this short biography of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was born in the year 1902 in the great musical lineage from Kasur, located in Western Punjab. He blended the best of the four traditions of music: Patiala that was own, the elements of Dhrupad, the delicacy of Jaipur and the embellishments of Gwalior. Bade Ghulam Ali looked beyond the "Bol-banav" tradition of Thumri. He wanted to break the age old tradition and wanted to play with the notes with greater abandon and less restraint. This kind of Thumri is now well established by the efforts of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.

He approached the traditional form of Khayal without much of changes. He did not want to create any sort of variations in the presentation. His style was straightforward, avoiding any sort of drastic changes in the style of presentation. He had an inclination of looking beyond the traditional method of toning a musical note to derive the perfect melody. This was usually achieved by very subtle modulation of notes. This tact was innate in Bade Ghulam Ali; he had the knack of playing with musical notations and find the perfect expression and melody.

The career span of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was relatively short. He made his mark in Calcutta in the year 1938 and All India Music Conference in Bombay in the year 1944. He was titled the Master in each and every field of music that he explored. But, he breathed his last at the age of 66, much to the shock of his fans and music lovers. On 25th April, 1968 he breathed his last, depriving the world of much more priceless treasure that he could have given.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

Birth Name: Masoom Ali Khan
Born: 9 October 1945 (age 66), Gwalior, Central Provinces and Berar, British Raj
Genres: Hindustani classical music
Instruments: Sarod
Associated Acts: Hafiz Ali Khan, Amaan Ali Khan, Ayaan Ali Khan, Gurdev Singh

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan
A distinguished maestro in the field of playing Sarod, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is popularly known as the "Sarod Samrat". He is the sixth generation Sarod player in his renowned family. The credit of modifying the Sarod as a classical instrument goes to his ancestors of the Bangash lineage originating from Senia Bangash School of Music. The present day Sarod has been derived by modifying the ancient folk instrument of Iran known as Rabab. Ustad Amjad Ali Khan has come to this stage of life after much determination and hard work. Read his life history in this short biography of Amzad Ali Khan.

Amjad Ali Khan was born on 9th October, 1945 at a place called Gwalior located in Madhya Pradesh. His father Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan was a musician in the court of the royal family of Gwalior. He received training from the descendants of Miyan Tansen, who is considered to be the greatest musician of all times. Amjad Ali Khan was the youngest son in his family. His first tutor was his father and he began playing at a very young age. At the mere age of twelve years, Amjad Ali Khan gave his first solo recital. The rest as they say is history. It was his love for the instrument and passion for music that made him famous and recognized as one of the greatest Sarod players.

Amjad Ali Khan has contributed immensely in the field of classical music. He plays the Sarod with his finger nails instead of finger tips. This gives a clear ringing sound and is also the most difficult technique to apply on the Sarod. This innovative genius has composed many ragas of his own like Kiran Ranjani, Haripriya Kanada, Shivanjali, Shyam Shri, Suhag Bhairav, Lalit Dhwani, Amiri Todi, Jawahar Manjari and Bapukauns. He has also acquired international acclaim by composing for the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. It was titled "Tribute to Hong Kong". The other musicians involved with this project were guitarist Charley Byrd, Violinist Igor Frolov, Suprano Glenda Simpson, Guitarist Barry Mason and UK Cellist Matthew Barley.

He has also given performances in Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Kennedy Center, House of Commons, Singapore, Mozart Hall in Frankfurt, Chicago Symphony Center, St. James Palace and the Opera House in Australia. The talented musician has received Honorary Citizenship to the States of Texas, Massachusetts, Tennessee and the city of Atlanta. Amjad Ali Khan is the first north Indian artist to have performed in honor of Saint Thyagaraja at the Thiruvaiyur shrine. He has also been a recipient of many awards like Padmashree Award, Sangeet Natak Academy Award, Tansen Award, UNESCO Award, UNICEF National Ambassadorship, Padma Bhushan, International Music Forum Award, etc. Amjad Ali Khan has two sons who are promising Sarod players. The legacy shall live on.

Pandit Ravi Shankar

Birth Name: Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury
Born: 7 April 1920 (age 92) Varanasi, United Provinces, Indian Empire
Genres: Hindustani classical music
Occupations: composer, musician
Instruments: sitar
Years active: 1939–present
Associated Acts: Uday Shankar, Allauddin Khan, Ali Akbar Khan, Lakshmi Shankar, Yehudi Menuhin, Chatur Lal, Alla Rakha, George Harrison, Anoushka Shankar, Beatles.

Pandit Ravi Shankar
Pandit Ravi Shankar is a living legend who is a genius Sitar player. Born on 7th April, 1920 in Banaras, his family was a Bengali Brahmin family who named him Ravindra Shankar. Shyam Shankar, his father, was a barrister. He had an elder brother Uday Shankar who was a famous Indian classical dancer. In his younger years, Ravi played Sitar the dance troupe of Uday Shankar, especially with Anna Pavlova. In 1938, he studied under his guru, Allaudin Khan. The dedication and determination shows in the fact that Ravi Shankar's career span extends over six decades and has been recorded in the Guinness World Record as the longest international career. An account of his fascinating life history is given here as the biography of Pt. Ravi Shankar.

In the year 1939, Ravi Shankar gave his first public performance in India. His formal training concluded in the year 1944 and he moved out of Bombay. He then started a recording career with HMV's Indian affiliate and began by composing scores for films and ballets. In the 50's he became the music director of All India Radio. It was during the 50's that he became famous in the world of music outside India. He performed in Soviet Union (1953) and the West (1956). He has performed in prestigious events like Edinburgh Festival and also at important places like Royal Festival Hall, London.

In the year 1965, George Harrison, a member of the band The Beatles began experimenting with the Sitar. Consequently, the two musicians met and their interest in the Sitar made them really good friends. Ravi Shankar's career got instant boost as he came to be known as Harrison's mentor. He got many opportunities to showcase his skill as a classical musician in events like Monterey Pop Festival, California (1967) along with the tabla maestro Ustad Allah Rakha. Ravi Shankar also performed an opening act during George Harrison's U.S tour in the year 1974. George Harrison fondly calls him the Godfather of World Music.

Ravi Shankar has composed two symphony masterpieces for Sitar and orchestra; Violin and Sitar composition for Yehudi Menuhin. He has also composed music for flute maestro Jean Pierre Rampal, Japanese flute player Hozan Yamamoto and Koto (Japanese stringed instrument) player Musumi Miyashita. He has composed the musical score for movies like Charly, Chappaqua, Apu Trilogy and Gandhi. He even got nominated for an Academy Award for his composition in this movie. His recording named "Tana Mana" (1987) skillfully infuses the traditional instruments with electronics. He also composed the Sitar part in Philip Glass's composition "Orion".

Ravi Shankar has two daughters who are talented musicians themselves. Anuoshka Shankar is a famous Sitar player like her father and has won many awards. She has her own recordings and also performs frequently with her father. His other daughter is Norah Jones who is an acclaimed singer in the international arena. She has won many Grammy awards and her records sell like hot cakes. Ravi Shankar has really contributed to not just Indian music but has also made sure that music lovers here get to listen to world music as well.

Ustad Zakir Hussain

Birth Name: Zakir Hussain
Born: 9 March 1951 (age 61)
Origin: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Genres: Hindustani classical music, jazz fusion
Occupations: Tabla Maestro
Instruments: Tabla
Years active: 1963–present
Labels: HMV

Ustad Zakir Hussain
Popularly known as Tabla Maestro, Ustad Zakir Hussain is the son of the renowned tabla player Ustad Allah Rakha. He was born on 9th March, 1951 and showed much interest in tabla since a very young age. This child prodigy started touring by the time he was twelve and started to perform at concerts and gain much recognition and fame. He went to in St. Michael's High School in Mahim and did his graduation from St. Xavier's Mumbai. In his twenties, he started to tour the United States frequently and performed in not less than 150 concerts per year. Read the fascinating life history of the famous musical genius in this biography of Zakhir Hussein.

Zakir Hussain has had the opportunity to perform with many talented musicians not just in India but also all over the world. He became a famous international phenomenon. He has composed for many English movies like Apocalypse Now, In Custody, Little Buddha, The Mystic Masseur, Heat and Dust, etc. Zakir Hussain also acted in a brilliant documentary named "The Speaking Hand: Zakir Hussain and the Art of the Indian Drum" that was released in the year 2003. But it was not released on DVD due to lack of audience response. He also composed, performed and provided his valuable advice for Vanaprastham, which was screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

Zakhir has performed with many artists and has created brilliant works of fusion. His partnership with the famous band The Beatles truly deserves a special mention. He also recorded with the American psychedelic band called "Shanti" in the year 1971. In 1975, he worked with John McLaughlin in the band "Shakti". This band had John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, L. Shankar, T.H. "Vikku" Vinayakram and R. Raghavan. It was disbanded by late 70's. However, the band was reunited a few years later by the name of Remember Shakti with some new members. The new band has released many albums like Saturday Night in Bombay, The Believer and 38th Montreux Jazz Festival.

Zakhir Hussain also released his first solo album "Making Music" in the year 1987, which was proclaimed to be one of the most inspired East-West fusion albums ever. He was awarded the "Padma Shree" by the Government in the year 1988, thus making him the youngest percussionist to ever receive this award. Zakir Hussain has also received the National Heritage Fellowship (1999) which the most prestigious honor for a master in traditional arts in U.S. He has also been honored with Sangeet Natak Akademi Award by the President of India in the year 1991. He was also awarded the Grammy for the album "Planet Drum" which was produced and created by Zakir Hussain and Mickey Hart.

Zakir Hussain married an Italian-American Kathak Dancer, Antonia Minnecola. She earlier worked as his manager for some time. Zakir Hussain has two daughters Anisa Qureshi and Isabella Qureshi. Anisa Qureshi graduated from UCLA and is trying her hand in video production and film making. The other daughter, Isabella is studying as a dance major in Manhattan. Zakhir Hussain has truly made his indelible mark in the field of music and has also acquired international acclaim. A true legend, his music shall continue to enthrall us for many more years to come.

Pandit Shivkumar Sharma

Birth Name: Pandit Shivkumar Sharma
Born: January 13, 1938 (age 74)
Origin: Dogra from Jammu, India
Genres: Hindustani Classical Music
Instruments: Santoor
Years active: 1955–present
Associated acts: Rahul Sharma

Pandit Shivkumar Sharma
Pandit Shivkumar Sharma is a very famous classical musician who has acquired international fame by playing the classical instrument, Santoor. The Santoor is a trapezoid-shaped hammered dulcimer often made of walnut wood and has 72 strings, which are struck with two delicate carved wooden mallets. The santoor is essentially a folk instrument that originated in the Kashmir Valley, which was given the status of a classical instrument due to the persistent efforts of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma. Reaching at this level in life was not easy for him and it is because of the determination of Shivkumar Sharma that the Santoor is a popular classical instrument. Know his life history in this short biography of Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma.

Shivkumar Sharma was born on 13th January, 1938 in Jammu. He was introduced to the Santoor by his father and teacher, Pandit Uma Dutt Sharma. He was renowned player of the instrument and also a vocalist. He was a disciple of Pandit Bade Ramdasji of Banaras. Shivkumar Sharma learnt the tabla and also vocal singing before dedicating himself to learn the Santoor extensively. The Santoor was known as the Shata-Tantri Veena in earlier days. It was used to accompany a particular type of singing known as Sufiana Mausiqi. Pandit Uma Dutt Sharma gave the responsibility of taking the Santoor on the world stage to his son Shivkumar after extensive research on its possibilities.

Today, Shivkumar Sharma and the Santoor are synonymous. Shivkumar Sharma has truly been successful in giving the Santoor the position of a popular classical instrument. Shivkumar Sharma modified the folk instrument in order to make it more suitable for classical music. He increased its range to full three octaves and also created a technique for smoother gliding between music notes in order to imitate human voice quality. Shivkumar Sharma also created a new way of playing it so that the notes and sound continuity could be maintained for a long time.

Shivkumar Sharma has collaborated with many musicians like Zakir Hussain and Hariprasad Chaurasiya. He also composed music for Hindi films like "Darr", "Silsila", "Lamhe", etc. Some of his famous albums are Call of the Valley, Sampradaya, Elements: Water, Music of the Mountains, Megh Malhar, etc. His son Rahul is also a famous Santoor player. Shivkumar Sharma is the recipient of many prestigious awards like Padmashree, Padma Vibhushan, Sangeet Natak Academy Award, Honorary Doctorate from the University of Jammu, Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Award, Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar, etc. He also has an honorary citizenship of the city of Baltimore, USA. This flawless musician truly deserves these honors and more. His Santoor recitals shall keep us mesmerized for many more years to come.

Ustad Bismillah Khan

Birth name: Qamaruddin Khan
Born: March 21, 1916
Origin: India
Died:  March 21, 1916 – August 21, 2006  (aged 90)
Genres: Indian classical music
Occupations: Musician
Instruments: Shehnai

Ustad Bismillah Khan
Ustad Bismillah Khan was undoubtedly a gem that India is proud of. This Shehnai maestro of India was a Bharat Ratna awardee and also has been awarded all the top four civilian awards namely Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan along with the Bharat Ratna. Born on 21st March, 1916 in Dumraon, Bihar, he was the second son of Paigambar Khan and Mitthan. His family had a musical background and his ancestors were musicians in the court of the princely states of Bhojpur. Read about the life history of this blessed soul in this short biography of Bismillah Khan.

Bismillah Khan was named Qamaruddin to sound like his elder brother's name Shamsuddin. However, when his grandfather Rasool Baksh Khan saw him as a baby he uttered the word "Bismillah" and hence he came to be known as Bismillah Khan. His father used to be a shehnai player in the court of Maharaja Keshav Prasad Singh of Dumraon. Despite the fame that he achieved, Bismillah Khan always remained where his roots were. He never accumulated wealth and other materialistic possessions and lived in humble surroundings in the holy city of Benares. Such was his love for his city that he declined an offer for permanent Visa for settling in US.

Ustad Bismillah Khan
His teacher and mentor was his uncle Ali Baksh 'Vilayatu', a renowned shehnai player. Bismillah Khan religiously practiced the shehnai and attained perfection in a very short time. He fully takes the credit for making the shehnai one of the most famous classical music instruments. His concert in All India Music Conference (1937) in Calcutta brought shehnai into limelight and was hugely appreciated by music lovers. He monopolized shehnai recital in the post independence era and kept the legacy of classical music alive with his recitals. He can be truly called a pure artist who always believed that music will survive even if the world perishes. He believed in Hindu-Muslim unity and spread the message of brotherhood through his music. He always announced that music has no caste.

Ustad Bismillah Khan
Bismillah Khan had the rare honor of playing his shehnai on the eve of India's independence in the year 1947. He performed at the Red Fort in Delhi and since that year he has always played on 15th August right after the Prime Minister gave his speech. Bismillah Khan has played in many countries and has a huge fan following. He has performed in Afghanistan, USA, Canada, Bangladesh, Europe, Iran, Iraq, West Africa, Japan and Hong Kong. He shared a special bond with his shehnai and called it "Begum" after his wife died. On 21st August 2006, at the age of 90, Bismillah Khan breathed his last after having a cardiac arrest. His shehnai was buried with him in his grave.


Shayari or rhyming poetry basically comprises of a couplet known as Sher. This is the way that this unique and beautiful form of poetry derives the name Sher O Shayari. 
Mirza GhalibMost of the forms of Shayari are found in the Urdu language. However, one may find Shero Shayari in Hindi, Punjabi, etc. It is the most outstanding fields of poetry that is dominant even today. Sher o Shayari is an inseparable part of the culture of India.

Sher o Shayari has been prevalent since a long time in our country. Though the exact time of its origin is not known, it was much prevalent during the time Emperors ruled the land. The poetry is usually very emotional in nature and the right kind of couplet can set the right atmosphere for a poetic evening. There are many such connoisseurs of Shero Shayari who collect different kinds of couplets and Sher to add to their rich collection.

Even in today's fast paced life one can find many such people who attend "Mushairas", which is essentially a public gathering of Shayar (people who do Shayari). Many Urdu and Hindi poets still write Shayari and indulge in a soul satisfying experience. Even a dull day can seem bright if one listens to different kinds of Sher o Shayari. They have the power to tease your emotions and at the same time, put you at complete ease.

Folk Music

India is a land of cultural diversities. Every region in India has its own form of folk music. This rich tradition of folk music is very much alive in not just rural India, but also in some metros. 

Folk Music of India
Though one may say that music has acquired a totally different definition with the arrival of pop culture and new age cinema, there are many who would beg to differ. The realm of traditional folk music in India is very large and it is basically a countryside representation of the urban Indian society. Many people tend to mix up Indian folk music with tribal music. There is a huge difference between thee two genres of music. Read on to know about folk music of India.

Folk music is very different from classical music as well. To begin with, it is not taught in the same way as classical music is taught. Classical music usually requires a student devoting their entire life perfecting the forms of this music. Folk music is more like a daily ritual without affecting the daily lives of people. People learn it since their childhood and grow up on these songs. One can always carry on with their daily life routine while listening to or singing folk music. Most of the songs are sung in small village functions like weddings, births, etc.

Folk music also uses a number of instruments. The refined versions of these instruments are used for classical music. For instance the "Tabla", which is a very important instrument of classical music, is used in a crude form like daf, dholak or nal. The cruder versions of Sitar or Sarod are used in folk music, which are known as ektara, dotar, saringda, rabab and santur. Not all regions use the same instrument. In fact, the same instrument may not even be called by the same name every where. Most of these instruments are made of easily available material like bamboo, clay pots, empty coconut shells, etc. Most of the folk music in India is dance oriented and many popular forms of dance like Dandiya, Lavani, Garba, etc. are danced along the tunes of popular folk music. They are very enjoyable, as most of them very catchy tunes.