Here is a round five of our Indian maestro edition of Guess Who (or as we renamed it – WHO AM I?). Scroll down for the right answer. Don’t cheat! Share your memories or favorite songs by the maestro in the comments.
If you haven’t already, play all the other rounds here!
Gangubai Hangal was a Indian singer of the khyal genre of Hindustani classical music, belonging to the Kirana gharana. Rising above societal prejudice, she established herself as a foremost vocalist, known for her deep and powerful voice.
The daughter and grand-daughter of Carnatic vocalists, Gangubai did not take to Carnatic music despite her early exposure to it. Seeing her interest in Hindustani music, her family moved to Hubli for her training.
While her formal education was limited (she only studied until the 5th grade), her relationship with academic institutions was lifelong. She went on to be a professor, and then senate member of Karnatak University in Dharward, and the Karnataka State Music University was also renamed in her honor.
Gangubai’s rise to prominence highlights the power of music to elevate one above societal prejudice. Coming from a family of low social status, Gangubai faced discrimination from upper caste Brahmins. However, later in life, due to her excellence in music, she was welcomed and honoured in all circles. In her time, it was considered inappropriate for women to be professional singers, and Gangubai too bunked that norm, having no qualms about the fact that she needed to earn from singing to support her family.
A disciple of the eminent guru Sawai Gandharva, and gurubahen of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Gangubai was fiercely protective of her art. While she began her career singing light classical music (bhajans and thumris), she went on to only perform classical music.
Apart from her performances across India and around the world, she had performed in more than 200 schools and colleges across India for promotion of Indian classical music among younger generation.
Even in her death, the vocalist set an example for others to follow by donating her eyes.