Popularity of India has largely been reliant upon individual talents. As such, Indian classical singers and musicians have played a pivotal role in the process of familiarising the rest of the world with India. Not only have they enriched lives with their soulful renditions, but also have framed a stand for themselves in the diverse world of music.
Here are few of the most notable reasons for Indian pride:
1. Ustad Ali Akbar Khan:
Master of the Sarod, Ustad was one of the most accomplished Indian musicians all over the world. He was born in Comilla to Madina Begum and Alauddin Khan in the year 1922.
Ali Akbar Khan, often referred to as Khansahib or by the title Ustad, was a Hindustani classical musician of the Maihar gharana, known for his virtuosity with his compositions.
He breathed his last June 18 2009 at San Anselmo, California. Catch one of Khan’s unforgettable performances at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r17LmpFCAFQ
2. Pandit Ravi Shankar:
Due to his mesmerizing ways with the Sitar, Pandit Ravi Shankar has become a common household name in India and the US. Shankar was born in Varanasi (Kashi) and spent his youth touring Europe and India with the dance group of his brother Uday Shankar. He gave up dancing in 1938 to study sitar playing under court musician Allauddin Khan.
Eventually, Ravi Shankar grew in fame and also collaborated with the Beatles, especially, George Harrison. In recognition of his mind-blowing talent, he was conferred with the highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, in 1999. He passed away in 2012 at San Diego, California.
Check out the Pandit performing ‘Raga Asa Bhairav’ at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7QP_QdoNqU
3. Ustad Amjad Ali Khan:
Yet again, a sarod maestro! Ustad is the sixth generation of sarod players from the Bangash lineage from the illustrious Bangash School of Music. He was born in 1945, at Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh.
Ever since 1960s, Ustad has been travelling around the world, performing. In 2001, he was awarded India’s second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan.
Watch him perform at PhilharmonieCologne here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhqedspfS3s
4. Shiv Kumar Sharma:
If not for this Pandit, “Santoor’’ would just be the name of a common soap among Indian households! Jokes apart, Pandit Shiv Shankar Sharma, is the most renowned of all santoor players. He is credited for single-handedly uplifting the fame of the Santoor in both the Indian and international music domain.
He was born on 13 January, 1938 in Jammu and Kashmir. Shiv Kumar Sharma’s official website states: www.santoor.com! Coincidence? I think not.
5. Zakir Hussain:
As versatile as he is, Zakir Hussain is a tabla player, musical producer, actor and a composer. He is most famous for his tabla skills.
In recognition of his skills, He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1988, and the Padma Bhushan in 2002, by the Government of India. He was also awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1990, given by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama. In 1999, he was awarded the United States National Endowment for the Arts‘s National Heritage Fellowship, the highest award given to traditional artists and musicians.
Watch his grace at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbDofgD04dc
6. MS Subbulakshmi:
Madurai Shanmugavadivu Subbulakshmi was a well known carnatic vocalist. Born on September 16, 1916, she was the first ever musician to be conferred the “Bharat Ratna” award. She was fondly known as “Nightingale of India”.
MS was married to Kalki Sadasivam. She passed away in 2004 at Chennai.
Catch her evergreen hits at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=a76YER71adA
7. Ananda Shankar:
Ananda Shankar was one of the most popular classical musicians of India. He specialised in fusing Indian and Western Music.
He was born on 11 December 1942 at Almora, in the erstwhile Uttar Pradesh. His parents were famous classical dancers, Amala and Uday Shankar. If you’re wondering about the number of Shankars in this article, let me disclose it..
Ananda Shankar was the nephew of the late Sitarist you just read about, Pt. Ravi Shankar.
8. Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia:
At the age of 15, he started vocal trainings from his neighbour. However, he found his ground in the northern traditional flute.Under Pandit Bholanath Prasanna, he honed his flute skills for eight years at Varanasi.
The Pandit also has more to boast about. He, along with Shivkumar Shama, directed music for several Indian movies under the duo name ‘Shiv-Hari’. Also, he is known for his western collaborations with artists such as John McLaughlin, Jan Garbarek, and Ken Lauber.
Watch him perform at:www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMk6l5I9EbU
The list is never ending. Not to forget, the scroll of greats go in the likes of Alla Rakha, Bhimsen Joshi, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Umbayi, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Kumar Gandharvan and so on. Nonetheless, hope you immersed yourself in the mesmerising sounds of our very own classical music. More coming your way, the internet is all yours!
By S. Shahid Abdul Majeed