Zakir Hussain Biography: Education, Career, Awards & Achievements

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Often referred to as “the Tabla Maestro,” Ustad Zakir Hussain Sahab is one of India’s most well-known tabla players in the history of India.

Zakir Hussain Profile

Zakir Hussain Family Background: Zakir Hussain’s father, Ustad Allah Rakha, is a well-known tabla player. He’d always been drawn to the Tabla, even as a child. When he was barely 12 years old, Zakir began performing at concerts worldwide. As a result, he gained notoriety and fortune at an early age.

Educational Background of Zakir Hussain

In addition to his theatre performances, he prioritizes his education, attending Mahim’s St. Michael’s High School and then Mumbai’s St. Xavier’s College. The University of Washington is also where he completed his doctoral studies in music, earning him the title of Doctor of Musical Arts.

He began touring the US often in his early twenties and performed at least 150 gigs every year!

Zakir Hussain’s career in the Film Industry

Because he was already a well-known figure in the United States when he was young, he continued to work with western musicians throughout his career. American bands were the bulk of his clients.  A band called “Shanti” recorded with him in 1971, and he also had a solo career. John McLaughlin joined him in the band ‘Shakti’ in 1975.

Zakir Hussain, L Shankar, T.H. ‘Vikku’ Vinayakam, and R. Raghavan were in this ensemble. Late in the ’70s, ‘Shakti’ disintegrated.

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However, a few years later, the band was renamed ‘Remember Shakti’ and reformed with new members. ‘Saturday Night in Bombay’ and ‘The Believer’ were two of the several albums released by the reconstituted band.

They also appeared in the Montreux Jazz Festival in its 38th year. ‘Making Music,’ Zakir Hussain’s 1987 debut solo album, was hailed as one of the most inspiring albums of East-West fusion.

Zakir Hussain’s Contribution to Music

It is widely accepted that Ustad Zakir Hussain is one of the most influential figures in the contemporary world music movement. Because of his many collaborations, he is sometimes given credit for introducing Tabla to a broader audience.

The Tabla, previously regarded as a mere percussion instrument, was transformed into an essential part of Indian classical music thanks to his pioneering work. Many people’s perceptions of concerts were altered due to his convictions.

Many young aspiring percussionists were inspired by his accomplishments as a Tabla player, and this opened the door for many Indo-Western partnerships.

Awards received by Zakir Hussain

  • Padma Shree — In 1988, the Indian government awarded him the Padma Shri, making him the country’s youngest-ever honor recipient.
  • For the second time in a decade, Zakir Hussain was awarded India’s most prestigious civilian accolade, the Padma Bhushan.
  • In 1990, he received the Indo-American Award for his cultural contributions.
  • Zakir was honored in 1999 with the National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest accolade in traditional arts.

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