Happy Birthday Zakir Hussain: Celebrating the Legend Tabla Maestro with 12 inspirational facts from his life

·2-min read

The renowned Indian tabla virtuoso, composer, percussionist, music producer steps into his 70th year and music lovers can’t stop showering the maestro with several ‘wah taaj’ praises for giving us the opportunity to be enthralled by his spellbinding musical performances.

Let’s take a look at some significant facts from the supremely talented artist’s life and continue to draw inspiration:

Fact 1: Recipient of the prestigious Padma Bhushan award, Zakir Hussain’s learning of the classical percussion instrument began when he was just three years old.

Fact 2: Born to a family of musicians, this prodigy witnessed Hindustani classical music from close proximity when ‘ustads’ such as Pt. Ravi Shankar, Ustad Vilayat Khan performed in concerts. The maestro went on to receive the honourable Padma Shri in 1988, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1990.

Facts 3: The United States honoured him with the National Endowment for the Art’s National Heritage Fellowship which is the highest award given to musicians.

Fact 4: The legendary music album Planet Drum which was the winner of the Grammy’s first-ever Best World Music Album, witnessed a fantastic collaboration of Zakir Hussain, Sikiri Adepoju, Giovanni and Mickey Hart. This was the 51st Grammy Awards ceremony.

Fact 5: Besides enthralling us with his musical talent, Zakir Hussain has been known to star in movies. A film titled Heat and Dust marked his maiden step in acting. Zakir Hussain made his acting debut in the year 1983. He not just acted in the movie but also was the music composer for it.

Fact 6: Saaz, was yet another film in which Zakir Hussain acted as well as composed music for.

Fact 7: Zakir Hussain has been composing film music for quite some time now. Films such as The Perfect Murder, Miss Beatty’s Children, Manto bear witness to the maestro as a film music composer.

Fact 8: Zakir Hussain had composed, performed, and acted as Indian music advisor for ‘Vanaprastham’, a Malayalam film. And it was a Cannes Film Festival entry, nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the AFI fest.

Fact 9:Â The tabla genius had composed soundtracks for the movies - The Mystic Masseur, In Custody.

Fact 10: The star-player has been part of documentaries where he exhibited his musical performance both solo and with different bands. Zakir and His Friends, and The Speaking Hand: Zakir Hussain and the Art of the Indian Drum are two such exemplary documentaries.

Fact 11: Did you know that he was the first Indian musician whom the former US president Barack Obama had invited to the White House to grace the All-Star Global Concert, with his presence?

Fact 12: There’s a book titled, Zakir Hussain: A Life in Music, (published in 2018), which is a compilation of 15 interview sessions of the maestro. It talks about the renowned artist’s very inspirational musical journey.