How women shaped Indian classical music

Vidya Shah traces the history of how it was the women who first took to recording classical music. Shah shares with us stories of legends like Gauhar Jaan and the cultural significance of the gramophone as she sings for us some iconic compositions from that era.

Recorded at INK2012, Pune, India


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About the Speaker

Vidya Shah

Musician, singer, composer, producer

Born into a family with a rich musical heritage, Vidya Shah is a vocalist who has trained in both North and South Indian musical traditions. Blessed with a rich and captivating voice, she has performed at national and international fora, including the Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C, Asia Society in New York, Assilah Arts Festival in Morroco, The Kala Utsav in Singapore, the Humbolt Forum, Berlin, Germany and the Schaffhauser Jazz Festival, Switzerland. Vidya conducts workshops on music appreciation and spiritual traditions in Indian music.

She writes on music for several publications and websites, and has contributed to the Encyclopedia Britannica. She is on the advisory committee of the South Asia Foundation, on the Parliamentary Review Committee for cultural Academies in India, as well as the review committee of the Zonal Cultural Centres, Ministry of Culture, Government of India. She anchors a conversation series on music with artistes, writers and organizers for a television channel in India.

She is the Director of Women on Record a Project supported by the Ford Foundation, celebrating the music of Indian gramophone recording artists from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For this work that showcases an important aspect of the history on Indian music and the making of the market, she has received the Charles Wallace Award (British Council) for 2010-2011 and the Senior Fellowship from the Govt. of India Ministry of Culture, 2011-2013. She is an empanelled artist with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

She is a composer, sings for radio, TV, and documentary films. Her Discography includes “Mere Paas Raho” (Times Music) a tribute to Faiz Ahmed Faiz the Pakistani poet on his Centenary. Vidya’s international discography includes Color Me in Song, Anja (with Karsh Kale), Far From Home(with Medieval Punditz) and Ahsana Om Shanti (with Bill Laswell, Six Degrees and Times Music), In the Forest (Tonus Music, Switzerland). Vidya combines her music with a deep understanding of its social history, which particularly comes through in her thematic performances such as the 'Last Mughal' with author William Dalrymple or her Sufi renditions exploring the feminine in the mystic.


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chandrakanth madavali

Music is like meditation and its the best medication to heal our pains and souls.

Thank you Shrimati.Vidya for sharing great information about the legendary women singers.

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