Sunday, April 18, 2010

Songs under a shroud

Gramophones may have lost the battle with technology, but there are some voices — heard and unheard — etched on them. In a world characterised by such forgetfulness, a book on the songbird Gauhar Jaan is staggering. Gauhar Jaan, a tawaif who was born to an Armenian father, lived in Calcutta in the late 19th Century. She was the first Indian musician to sing on the gramophone (1902), and, in that sense, a pioneer.

Vikram Sampath, author of the recently released My Name Is Gauhar Jaan! The Life And Times Of A Musician, stumbled upon this grand songster of regal bearing, when he was researching in the Mysore Palace Archives for his earlier book, Splendours Of Royal Mysore: The Untold Story Of The Wodeyars.

“Her name had an interesting ring, and the fact that she was the first musician to sing on the gramophone fascinated me,” he says.

Full report here Hindu

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