My Name is Gauhar Jaan

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"My Name is Gauhar Jaan!" - The earliest recordings of Indian music are distinguished by this high-pitched and flirtatious announcement, made towards the end of the rendition. This declaration of the singer seemed to epitomize a milestone in the history of Indian classical music, one that would change forever its content, structure and style of presentation.

The music scene in India at the turn of the 20th century witnessed tumultuous changes. The traditional custodians of the art form - the devadasis of the South and the nautch girls and tawaifs of the North, who had nurtured the art for centuries, became victims of the morality laws of the British government and the prudery of an 'enlightened' and educated Indian elite. However Gauhar Jaan (1873-1930), eminent Hindustani/North Indian classical vocalist, symbolizes the resurgent women musicians of the time.

Born as Eileen Angelina Yeoward, an Armenian Christian who later converted to Islam, Gauhar Jaan was a naturally gifted musician with a wide repertoire. One of the earliest women artists who seized opportunity that came with the advent of recording technology, hers was the first Indian voice to be recorded in 1902. In her illustrious career she cut close to 600 records.

Along with her musical talents, her striking good looks, flamboyant lifestyle, fluency in several languages and her ability to compose verses in Urdu and Hindi made her a popular figure, both nationally and internationally. She had the rare distinction of performing in front of Emperor George V in the famous Delhi Durbar in 1911.

This book traces the story of her life with all its attendant myths, legends and folklore, some of which are recorded, some apocryphal; as well as the times during which she lived and made exquisite music. The socio-cultural context serves to put her contribution and the role of women like her to Hindustani music in perspective. Through her music an attempt is made to analyze the different genres of Hindustani music that Gauhar and singers like her popularized, namely the Thumri, Dadra, and Ghazal. The book also describes briefly the evolution of the recording industry in India and its impact on Indian music, theatre and social life.

About the Author:

Vikram Sampath was born in Bangalore and completed his Engineering in Electronics and Masters in Mathematics from BITS-Pilani in 2003. He subsequently did an M.B.A. in finance from S P Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai. He currently works in the retail banking division of a leading multinational bank in Bangalore.

His first book, Splendorus of Royal Mysore: The Untold Story of the Wodayors has been widely acclaimed across India. The book traces teh 600 year long history of Mysore, its royal family and culture. It has been termed as one of the most definitive accounts on the Mysore royal family in recent times. The book was also nominated for the Crossword - Vodafone book of the year 2008 award under the non-fiction category.

Selling Rights Worldwide
Packing Weight 1 kg
ISBN 9788129116180
Author Vikram Sampath
Publisher Rupa Publication
Language English
Page count 318
Book Format Paper Back + CD

Categories: Biographies Music

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