While not an entirely male controlled field, Indian classical music, be it Carnatic or Hindustani, is definitely male dominated. There are and have always been amazing female talents– Gauri Jan, Roshanara Begum, M.S. Subbalakhsmi — but the number of men who are accorded ‘great’ status, is (rightly of wrongly) much higher.
Perhaps it is my contrary nature. Or maybe it is because female voices, like female executives in the West, have to work harder to be heard and rewarded. But whatever the reason, I find Indian female classical singers to be very thrilling. To be thrilled means to be suddenly filled with a feeling of excitement and pleasure. Ustad Amir Khan, Rashid Khan, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Faiyaaz Khan, the brothers Amanat and Fateh, amaze me, move me and humble me. But it is the women with their preternatural and organic glissando from the opening notes to the very last, that thrill me. That make me tingle with delight.
Veena Sahasrabuddhe is a Maharastrian classical singer began her musical career behind the tabla and as a dancer. Her family made their living from music and so, as Veena says, ‘I had no choice.’ Not that this was a drudgery at all. She took to the musical world immediately and has often expressed that, though she has several advanced degrees including a MA in Sanskrit, she simply HAS to sing.
Her original discipline as a classical dancer helped her deepen not only her understanding of rhythm but of expression and drama. All these attributes are found in her fantastic singing. Not overly done or contrived but in a very subtle and natural way.
My favourite record at the moment is the one I share today in which Ms Sahasrabuddhe presents two lovely ragas: Bihag and Jog-Kauns.
Bihag is a night raga often associated with romance such as marriage celebrations. It is celebratory and sparkling,
Jog-Kauns is a late night raga.
I hope you find this music as thrilling as I do.