Sepia Stories: Aktarbai Begum Akhtar is the legend of Hindustani music
Begum Akhtar, the legendary ghazal singer passed away on Oct 30, 1974. She was a pathbreaker for many reasons – from falling in love with music at seven years to holding a concert just for women. Born in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh she shattered glass ceilings by taking her music commercial and signing on records, something uncommon for pure classical singers of those time.
Akhtaribai Faizabadi, also known as Begum Akhtar, was a well known Indian singer of Ghazal, Dadra, and Thumri genres of Hindustani classical music
‘Akhtaribai’ as she was also known took thumri and dadra to the masses through her public concerts. She was the one among her peers to break out of the kotha circle reports a Times of India piece which is documented through an interview with her protege Shanti Hiranand. Begum Akhtar sang for many years and on one such concert Sarojini Naidu heard her and lauded her performance.
Akhtar married a barrister in Lucknow, Ishtiaq Abbasi who wanted her to stop singing. Except for the 1962 concert in aid of the war, which was for women only, Hiranand tells Times of India.
Her tomb was built in a mango orchard within her home, ‘Pasanda Bagh’ in Thakurganj area, of Lucknow. She was buried alongside her mother, Mushtari Sahiba.
Recently, Google celebrated Begum Akhtar’s anniversary with a doodle that marks the contribution she made towards Hindustani classical music. The doodle showed Begum Akhtar playing sitar. The doodle is coloured in the shades of yellow, blue and pink with sepia undertones. She was among the earliest female voices to stage public performances and her first disc was released by the Megaphone Record Company. Her voice remains legendary and so does she.
Video Picture Credits: WomenOnrecord.com / Wikipedia / Begum Akhtar Stamp