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Author: Vikram Sampath
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9788129120588
'My name is Gauhar Joan!'-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 epitomise a milestone in the History of Indian Classical music, one that would change forever its content, structure and Style of presentation.
The Musical scene in India at the turn of the 20th century witnessed tumultuous changes. The traditional custodians of the Art form, the devadasis in the South and the nautch girls and tawaifs in 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, symbolises 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 1 902. In her illustrious Career she cut close to 600 records.
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 Senses 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.
Praise for ‘My Name is Gauhar Jaan!’
‘Reading the book has opened a whole new world for me … Unquestionably Gauhar Jaan was a remarkable woman personality … what comes out of the book is the image of a very strong and vibrant personality …I commend Vikram for this fabulous job … I admire his skills as a researcher and his passion for the subject.’
= Shri M. Hamid Ansari, Honorable Vice President of India.
‘The work done by Vikram is truly commendable and plugs a major gap in the history of Indian music. He has taken great pains to reconstruct the life of this famous singer from my home-town of Banaras,’
= Padmabhushan Girija Devi, eminent Hindustani vocalist and Thumri singer.
‘Vikram Sampath has produced a finely researched book on a forgotten artiste of huge talent, and in the process, given a lucid idea about the socio-cultural hence political values of the time … Sampath’s book is scholarly, strong on musical, sociological and historical detail: it is written with respect and love. By the time one puts down the book, the heart is wrenched while the mind is rewarded.’
= The Indian Express
‘In his compelling and admirably well-researched narrative, Vikram Sampath recreates the glory, the musical magic, the mercurial life and the painful last days of Gauhar Jaan. Given the amount one has to rely on anecdotal history, it is not easy to write a book about a musician of the past. Most books end up being hagiographies written by an acolyte or a boring series of facts. This one manages to navigate through the life of the artiste and also give glimpses into a very important time of cultural change – with respect to women, to musicians and to a cultural period when music was liberated from the confines of the kotha into the more democratic, accessible space of gramophone records. Sampath has done hid research well.’
= Times of India review by Namita Devidayal, author of the ‘Music Room’
‘With a heady mix of drama, romance and tragedy, hers is a story that makes for an epic telling … What makes the book significant are the appendices-a definite contribution to musical documentation.’
= India Today
Messages: Pandit Jasraj, Ustad Amjad Ali Kahn, Pandit Arvind Parikh
Section 1: The Making of a Diva
The Early Years
The City of Light
The Learning Years
A Star is Born
The Blossoming of Love
Rendezvous with Music
Section 2: The Glory Years
‘This Should Talk’
The Gramophone Comes to India
Indian Music and the Thumri: A Journey in Time
The Darling Songstress
On Proving one’s Parentage
The Glory Years
Section 3: The Fall from Grace
The Beckoning of Doom
The Anti-Nautch Campaign
Life after Abbas
Black Hole: The Death of a Star
After the End
Appendix 1: The Complete Discography of Gauhar Jaan
Appendix 2: Miscellaneous Original Documents
Appendix 3: Gauhar Jaan’s Famous Composition
Appendix 4: Selected Verses from ‘Makhzan-e-Ulfat-e-Mallika’
References and Bibliography