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Kaushiki Chakrabarty

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b. 1980, Calcutta, India. The daughter of leading musicians Pandit Ajoy and Chandna Chakrabarty, Kaushiki was raised at the Sangeet Research Academy, which is where her father taught. She sang from the age of two, with her mother her first teacher, and also toured nationally and internationally with her father, sometimes singing at his concerts. From age 10 she studied with Gnan Prakash Ghosh, before beginning a period of study with her father at his Shrutinandan music school. Like her father, Chakrabarty performs one of the two major divisions of Indian classical music. This is north Indian, which is also known as Hindustani music. (The other is the Carnatic music of south India.) Ancient Hindu music, known as dhrupad dhamar, was exclusively religious, plain to the point of austerity and performed to strict rules including firm adherence to 7/8 time. Towards the end of the fifteenth century, the region’s new Mongol rulers brought with them a great love of music, but regarded it as primarily a means of entertainment. This music, lively and performed in different times, including 4/4, was artfully blended with the religious dhamar music, which the newcomers loved but did not regard as inviolable. The new fusion, known as khyal, found favour and its popularity spread, although the Muslims took steps to ensure that the original form was not lost. A general condition of Muslim music was that it was not performed by women. This ruling does not apply to the Sufi Islamic sect, of which there are many followers in India, and hence a form of group singing developed, known as qawwali, in which solos were included and often performed by women. Although Chakrabarty’s repertoire is predominantly of north Indian origin, she has also studied the music of south India and from time to time has incorporated aspects of contemporary Indian pop music, thus considerably widening her audience. In addition to her music studies, Chakrabarty has also studied philosophy, gaining a first class honours degree. In 1998, she attracted very favourable attention as an opening act at the 27th annual ITC Sangeet Sammelan in New Delhi. In 2000, she won an award as the outstanding performer for the Dover Lane Nabin Pratibha in a series dedicated to encouraging new talent. While still in her twenties, Chakrabarty extended her audience globally and made a very successful visit to the UK where a live performance in London in August 2003, was recorded and later released as Pure. At this concert she was accompanied by her father who on this occasion played harmonium. Singing in a clear and liquid manner, Chakrabarty has developed a growing and admiring audience in countries with large Indian communities, such as the UK, and is making a name in world music circles.

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1980 in Calcutta, India

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