Zakir Hussain

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Zakir Hussain
Date of Birth: March 9, 1951

A child prodigy, Ustad Zakir Hussain is considered by many to be the most accomplished Tabla player in the world. A classical Tabla virtuoso of the highest order, his consistently brilliant performances have established him as a genius in the world of percussion and in the world of music at large as an international phenomenon.

Zakir's contribution to world music has been unique, with many unique and historic collaboration with Western artists such as John McLaughlin (Shakti) and Mickey Hart (Diga Rhythm Band) and recordings and performances with artists diverse as George Harrison, Joe Henderson, Van Morrison, Jack Bruce, Tito Puente, Pharoah Saunders, Billy Cobham, the Hong Kong Symphony and the New Orleans Symphony. His playing is marked by uncanny intuition and masterful improvisational dexterity, founded in formidable knowledge and study and also the impeccable training bestowed unto him by his great father, Ustad Alla Rakha.

In 1988, he became the youngest percussionist to ever be awarded the title "Padma Shri" by the Indian government, a title given to civilians of merit. In 1990, he was awarded the Indo-American Award, in recognition for his outstanding contribution to relations between the United States and India. In April 1991, the President of India, making him one of the youngest musicians to receive this recognition from India's governing cultural institute, presented him with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. In 1992, Planet Drum, an album co-created and produced by Zakir and Mickey Hart, was awarded a Grammy for Best World Music Album, the Downbeat Critics Poll for Best World Beat Album and the NARM Indie Best Seller Award for World Music Recording.

Zakir Hussain has received widespread recognition as a composer as evidenced by the numerous grants and awards that he has received, including participation in the Meet The Composer programs funded by the Pew Memorial Trust. His compositional skills can also be heard on soundtracks for the films In Custody, Ismail Merchant's directorial debut, and Little Buddha by Bernardo Bertolucci, for which Zakir composed, performed and was the Indian music advisor.

The favorite accompanist for many of India's greatest classical musicians and dancers, from Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar to Birju Maharaj and Shivkumar Sharma, Zakir Hussain has also bridged world music traditions by performing with some of the cream of musicians from all parts of the world.


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