10/01/13 at 3:43 am
The ghazal is an ancient form of poetry that originated from a 6th century Arabic verse. Its usual subject is love, most notably the loss and pain of loving. It is said that to better understand ghazal, one has to be at least familiar with Sufism, and most ghazals are viewed in a spiritual context. It gained prominence during the 13th and 14th centuries due to the Persian poets Rumi and Hafiz and the Indian poet Mirza Ghalib in the 18th century. Today, like other traditional forms of literature, ghazal has also undergone transformations to be able to adapt to the current generation. This incorporation of modernism is highly frowned upon by ghazal purists, but if it helps the art of ghazal to live on and be known to future generations, then it would be quite all right to infuse some changes into it as long as it still brings out the beauty of the ghazal.
Begum Akhtar (+)
She was a multi-award winning Indian ghazal singer born on October 7, 1914. She died on October 30, 1974 right after her concert performance in Ahmedabad. Begum Akhtar was also known as the Mallika-e-Ghazal or The Queen of Ghazals. In 1968, she received the Padma Shri Award and in 1972 the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. She was posthumously awarded in 1975 the Padma Bhushan award by the Indian government. During the span of her career, she did not only sang and wrote ghazals but she also starred in films.
Talat Aziz is a famous Indian ghazal singer from Hyderabad, India to a writer and poet parents. Their family were lovers of fine art that they usually invited poets over to their house, and it was from this that Talat Aziz came to appreciate music. He has been singing ghazals for over three decades and has consistently sold out concerts all over the globe. He celebrated his silver anniversary as a ghazal performer in 2004 with the launch of a special video and audio album.
Mubarak Begum was born in 1940 and is not only a famous ghazal singer but also a playback singer in India. Her career started with light recitals with the All India Radio, an Indian government radio station. Her rendition of the Kabhi Tanhaiyon Mein Yun for the film Hamaari Yuad Aayegi is still considered to this day a classic. Today, however, Mubarak Begum has long been forgotten. She has been living a life of poverty for nearly five decades after she became famous for her rendition of Mujhko Apne Gale Lago Lo. Her destitute state caught the attention of some Bollywood insiders who are now taking care of the septuagenarian artist.
Lily Chakraborty was born on January 15, 1972. She is a highly acclaimed Indian ghazal singer, poet, songwriter, and book author. Her style is said to be unique among other ghazal singers. She is considered to be the most popular and successful ghazal singer to date, and she is well known not only in India but also in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Her album released in 2009 was a global success, and she is also one of India’s most influential artists.
Hariharan was born on April 3, 1955 in Kerala, India. Although born in Kerala, he grew up in Mumbai in a Tamil Iyer family. He has bachelor degrees in science and law. His parents were renowned Carnatic vocalists from whom he got his musical inclination. At a young age, Hariharan has been exposed to different types of music such as Carnatic, Hindustani, and ghazal music. It was said that Hariharan practices singing for 13 hours every day. When he learned to sing ghazal, he made sure that he also learned Urdu and poured out his heart and soul into the ghazal music. He has more than 30 ghazal albums to his credit. In 2004 he was awarded by the Indian government the Padma Shri and is a two-time national award winner.
Talat Mahmood (+)
Talat Mahmood is one of India’s most prominent ghazal singers. He was born on February 24, 1924 in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Early in his life, Talat Mahmood already showed an interest in music and would often sit listening to the greatest names in classical Indian music at the time. In 1939, at the age of 16, he embarked on a career singing purely ghazal music, and in 1941 he recorded his first ghazal disc. His ghazal singing brought him from Lucknow to Calcutta where he blossomed as an artist. Apart from singing, Talat Mahmood also acted in films. In 1992, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan. Talat Mahmood died on May 9, 1998.
A Padma Shree awardee, Penaz Masani started her ghazal singing career in 1981 and, since then, has made more than 20 albums to her credit. She was awarded the title Shehzadi Tarunnam by the state government of Uttar Pradesh in 1996. In 2002, she received the Outstanding Contribution to Music Award in the 11th Kalakar Award. She has also worked as a playback singer for Bollywood for more than 50 movies and has sung in 10 different languages. The Indian Council for Cultural Relations supported Penaz Masani, and she was able to perform in countries such as Germany, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal ,and Vietnam.
Jagjit Singh (+)
Jagjit Singh, born on February 8, 1941, was named Jagmohan Singh. His name was changed to Jagjit based on the advice of the Sikh Namdhari sect whom his parents consulted. He has an art degree from DAV College in Jalandhar and a postgraduate degree in history from Kurukshetra University in Haryana. In 1967, he met his wife Chitra Dutta with whom he had a son. Both he and his wife gained stardom in 1976 when they released their album The Unforgettables. He and his wife were both successful ghazal singers. Chitra, however, stopped performing when their son Vivek died in 1990. Jagjit continued on as a solo artist and is called the King of Ghazal. He has received many awards in the span of his career including the Padma Bushan in 2003. Jagjit Singh died on October 10, 2011.
Ahmad Wali is a well-known Afghan ghazal singer who is currently living in Germany. He was born in Kabul, and his father was a police commander. This must have been the influence on Ahmad Wali for enrolling at the Kabul Police Academy. Although enrolled in the Police Academy, he was still performing music until he made the decision to really be committed to it. Music is not something new to Ahmad Wali as at the age of 12 he was already playing the Tabla, and singing came after immediately. While at the Habibia High School, he did a demo tape that was instantly liked by Ustad Zaland, the director of Radio Kabul. The political unrest in Afghanistan forced Ahmad Wali to seek refuge in another country. He fled Afghanistan using a fake passport into India and from there got a visa to Germany by pretending to be sick. Living in Germany, Ahmad Wali restarted his singing career and was successful with tours to the United States of America and Europe.
Sunali Rathod was once married to Anup Jalota and is now happily married to Roop Kumar Rathod. Sunali Rathod is a trained, classical singer, and she started performing at the age of 10 years old. She can sing in different languages such as Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Telugu, and English. Her first ghazal album was released in 1987, and in the same year she won the Best Ghazal Singer Award of the Emirates International in Dubai. Sunali Rathod was born and raised in Mumbai, India and attended St. Xavier’s College also in Mumbai.