Google honoured Indian singer and dancer Gauhar Jaan, who was one of the first artistes to record music in the country, with a doodle on her 145th birth anniversary on Tuesday.
Born on 26 June 1873 in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Gauhar Jaan's recorded music was released by the Gramophone Company of India in November 1902. As noted by The Telegraph, the legendary musician-dancer conducted her recording session with Fred Gaisberg, assistant to Emile Berliner, and the first recording engineer to have worked in India.
Gauhar came of Hindu, Armenian Christian and British heritage, but embraced Islam and remained a devout Muslim throughout her life, reported The Financial Express. Despite this, however, her compositions were replete with verses dedicated to Lord Krishna.
A report on NDTV said Gauhar started learning classical music in Calcutta, where she was trained in Hindustani classical music and Rabindra Sangeet. She trained under the three founding members of Patiala Gharana: Kalu Ustad, Ustad Vazir Khan of Rampur, and Ustad Ali Baksh. In addition to this, Bindadin Maharaj, the granduncle of Birju Maharaj, taught her Kathak, while she picked up lessons in Keertan from Charan Das.
She started performing at the age of 23 in Calcutta, and was called the "first dancing girl" in her records, The Financial Times report added. Gauhar was so flamboyant and fiesty that her photograph adorned the cover of numerous postcards and products, including matchboxes, it said.
The NDTV report mentioned that Gauhar traveled across the country and performed in several cities. She was also invited to Delhi Durbar to perform at the coronation of King George V.
She received an invitation from Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV of Mysore, and moved to the southern city to live out her old age, the report added. She was appointed as a palace musician, but within 18 months of that, she breathed her last. She died on 17 January, 1930.