11 Indian Musicians You Must Have Heard At Least Once In Your Life

Rightly said, “Music is food for the soul”. Raagreet pays a tribute to 20 of the greatest musicians in India. If you have yet not heard about them or their musical work, then it’s high time you must.

1. Mian Tansen (1506 – 1589)
One of the ‘Navratnas’ (Nine Jewels) at Mughal Emperor Jalal Udin Muhammad Akbar’s court in 16th Century— Mian Tansen is known as a pioneer of Indian Classical Music. His ragas are a significant part of Hindustani culture and many of them hold the prefix, “mian ki”. For instance, “Mian ki Todi” or “Mian ki Malhar”.

2. Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941)
Being a multi-talented personality, Rabindranath Tagore was also a famous classical musician. He has to his praise 2,230 compositions. He formed his songs from scratch — the tune, the lyrics, and so on. ‘Rabindrasangeet’ is almost a genre on its own and the assortment in his music is beyond amazing.

3. Pandit Ravi Shankar (1920 – 2012)
His style of music cannot be simply penned down, for its impact has been so immense that it includes audiences across the world. Among his passionate admirers and learners were The Byrds and George Harrison of The Beatles. Talking about the several international awards he won during his lifetime, the list goes on. A 3-time Grammy award winner, he has acclaimed Bharat Ratna and Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Yes this man saw it all, and won it all.

4. Pt. Shivkumar Sharma (1938 –)
An excellent Santoor player, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma is a one-of-his-kind musician. There is so much gravity, so much playfulness, and so much glory in his music. He has been the receiver of Padma Shree and Padma Vibhushan and has won awards around the world.

5. Lata Mangeshkar (1929 –)
The ‘Nightingale of India’, Lata Mangeshkar has been revered in the Indian music industry for over 7 decades now. In Bollywood, very few singers have such charisma and natural sweetness in their voices and Lata Didi is definitely the rarest of the rare. After M.S Subbulakshmi, she is the second vocalist ever to have been awarded the prestigious Bharat Ratna.

6. Mohammad Rafi (1924 – 1980)
Let’s agree to this. Bollywood would never have been the same without the voice of Mohammed Rafi. His music understood what Bollywood was about! It did what no one else has been capable to do with as much perfection – it brought out the ‘ada’ and seized the shades of Bollywood moments.

7. Begum Akhtar (1914 – 1974)
Begum Akhtar is an Indian singer of Ghazal, Dadra, and Thumri genres of Hindustani Classical Music. A Padma Shri and a Padma Bhushan (posthumous) awardee, Begum Akhtar was titled Mallika-e-Ghazal which means ‘Queen of Ghazals’. Her music is indeed achingly soulful and expresses a deep desire.

8. Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasiya (1938 –)
An Indian Classical Flutist of absolute brilliance, Hariprasad Chaurasiya, a recipient of Padma Vibushan and Padma Shri, creates marvels when he plays the flute. He has been enthralling audiences globally with the new emotional ambience he’s carried to classical music.

9. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi (1922 – 2011)
Bhimsen Joshi, Bharat Ratna Recipient was a Hindustani Classical Vocalist and an awe-inspiring one at that. Every nuance in his songs was extremely clear and emotional.

10. Ustad Zakir Hussain (1951 –)
Padma Bhushan and Padma Shree recipient, Zakir Hussain is an Indian Tabla Maestro in Hindustani Classical Music. He was awarded the United States National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship. (Highest award given to traditional artists and musicians). Further, he is the youngest percussionist to have been awarded such high tributes. Indeed, listening to him is pure bliss.

11. Ustad Bismillah Khan (1913 – 2006)
The remarkable shehnai player, Ustad Bismillah Khan, was a musician who accomplished to clutch the essence of Indian culture through his music. He was a Bharat Ratna and a Padma Vibhushan receiver.
There is just something about Hindustani Classical Music reaching that junction of your emotional high, one which the ordinary cycle of every day splits from your active conscience that makes it so exceptional. Do yourself a slight justice – broaden your range, strengthen that high.

12. Ustad Vilayat Khan (1928-2004)
Ustad Vilayat Khan emerges as one of the greatest sitarists of our era. He also composed and piloted the score for 3 feature films – Merchant-Ivory Production’s “The Guru” in English, Satyajit Ray’s “Jalsaghar” in Bengali, and Madhusudan Kumar’s “Kadambari” in Hindi. In 1964 and 1968, respectively, Ustad Vilayat was presented the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awards – India’s fourth and third main civilian honours for service to the nation – but denied to accept them, asserting that the committee is musically incompetent to judge him. The only awards he acknowledged were the exceptional decorations of “Bharat Sitar Samrat” by the Artistes Association of India (AAI) and “Aftab-e-Sitar” (Sun of the Sitar) from then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed.

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