|Birth name||Zakir Hussain|
|Born||9 March 1951|
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
|Genres||Hindustani classical music, jazz fusion, world music|
|Associated acts||Remember Shakti|
He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1988, and the Padma Bhushan in 2002, by the Government of India presented by President Abdul Kalam. He was also awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1990, given by the Sangeet Natak Academy, India's National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama. In 1999, he was awarded the United States National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Fellowship, the highest award given to traditional artists and musicians.
Early life and education
Zakir Hussain was born on 9 March 1951 in a nursing home in Mahim (a suburb of Mumbai) at about 11:00 a.m. in a Punjabi family.  Hussain was born to tabla maestro Ustad Alla Rakha. His mother's name was Bavi Begum. It was said that Hussain was an 'unlucky' child since his father was extremely ill around the time of his birth. Although their family name is Qureshi, Zakir was given the surname Hussain. He attended St. Michael's High School in Mahim, and briefly attended St. Xavier's College, Mumbai.
Hussain was a child prodigy. His father taught him Pakhawaj from the age of 3 years. His father would wake him up at 3 a.m. and would teach him vocally by reciting different rhythms till 6 a.m. Zakir's father Alla Rakha belonged to the Punjab gharana tradition of tabla-playing, other gharanas being those of Delhi, Benares, Ajrara, Farrukhabad, and Lucknow.
He gave his first concert at the age of seven and was deemed a child prodigy. He was touring by the age of eleven. He went to the United States in 1970 to accompany sitar maestro Ravi Shankar. After the tour was complete, he planned to study for a Ph.D. but instead he moved to the Bay Area to accompany Ali Akbar Khan, who was in need of a tabla player. After that he began his international career, including more than 150 concert dates a year.
From a young age, Zakir has been accompanying all the leading lights of Hindustani classical music, both vocal and instrumental - from Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Vilayat Khan, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Pandit VG Jog, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Jasraj and many more.
Both Zakir and his father Alla Rakha were responsible for popularizing the art of tabla playing at international venues. Their performances raised the visibility of tabla players who previously did not receive as much notoriety. Zakir brought great attention to and raised the profile of tabla players through his solo acts along with his excursions as an accompanist. One of the unique contributions of Zakir is his use of the "bayan" to create melody. He uses this throughout his playing but especially so during the "sawaal-jawaab" section of a recital, where the instrumentalist playing the sitar, sarod, santoor, etc. and the tabla player typically have a "question-answer" back and forth. This would typically involve a set of notes played together, which the tabla player reproduces. Zakir's popularity was responsible for bringing audiences to a Hindustani music concert which came not just to listen to the main melody artist but to the supporting tabla artist. Zakir inspired a whole generation of young tabla players who grew up imitating his head gestures and even his hair style while performing.
Zakir's fame spread internationally following many tour performances in the US and Europe. He also collaborated with many musicians from all over India and the world. He collaborated with violinist L. Shankar, guitarist John McLaughlin, mridangam player Ramnad Raghavan, and legendary ghatam player Vikku Vinayakram in forming the fusion group Shakti, which performed worldwide to great acclaim. Twenty years later, a second version of the Shakti group, called Remember Shakti, was created featuring U. Srinivas, Zakir Hussain, TV Selvaganesh, and Shankar Mahadevan.
Hussain played on George Harrison's 1973 album Living in the Material World and John Handy's 1973 album Hard Work. He also performed on Van Morrison's 1979 album Into the Music and Earth, Wind & Fire's 1983 album Powerlight.
Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead, who had known Zakir since the 1960s, invited him to create the special album Planet Drum, featuring legendary drummers from different parts of the world. Featured along with Zakir, from India, was Vikku Vinayakram, with whom Zakir had collaborated in Shakti. The first Planet Drum album, released in 1991 on the Rykodisc label, went on to earn the 1992 Grammy Award for Best World Music Album, the first Grammy ever awarded in this category. The Global Drum Project album and tour brought Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Sikiru Adepoju, and Giovanni Hidalgo together again in a reunion sparked by the 15th anniversary of the ground-breaking album Planet Drum. The album Global Drum Project won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album at the 51st Grammy Awards Ceremony held on 8 February 2009.)
Zakir composed, performed and acted as Indian music advisor for the Malayalam film Vanaprastham, a 1999 Cannes Film Festival entry which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival (AFI Fest) in 1999, and won awards at 2000 Istanbul International Film Festival (Turkey), 2000 Mumbai International Film Festival (India), and 2000 National Film Awards (India). He has composed soundtracks for several movies, most notably In Custody and The Mystic Masseur by Ismail Merchant, and has played tabla on the soundtracks of Francis Coppola's Apocalypse Now, Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddha, and other films. He starred in several films specifically showcasing his musical performance both solo and with different bands, including the 1998 documentary "Zakir and His Friends", and the documentary "The Speaking Hand: Zakir Hussain and the Art of the Indian Drum" (2003 Sumantra Ghosal). Hussain co-starred as Inder Lal in the Merchant Ivory Film Heat and Dust in 1983, for which he was an associate music director.
Zakir has stated that he doesn't play at private gatherings, corporate events, or weddings; he believes music should not be heard at events where folks come to socialize, drink or enjoy a meal (music should be the sole purpose of the event).
Nasreen Munni Kabir compiled 15 interview sessions (each lasting about 2 hours) from 2016-2017 into the book Zakir Hussain: A Life in Music, which was published in 2018. This book takes the reader through Zakir's life from his childhood, his years of intense training, and growth to fame as a renowned musician.
Zakir Hussain married Antonia Minnecola, a Kathak dancer and teacher, who is also his manager. They have two daughters, Anisa Qureshi and Isabella Qureshi. Anisa graduated from UCLA and is trying her hand in video production and film making. Isabella is studying dance in Manhattan.
Zakir Hussain has two brothers: Ustad Taufiq Qureshi, a percussionist and Ustad Fazal Qureshi, also a tabla player. Their brother Munawar died at a young age when he was attacked by a rabid dog. His eldest sister Bilquis died before Zakir was born. Another sister, Razia, died due to complications during a cataract surgery, just a few hours before their father's death in 2000. He has another sister named Khurshid.
He was named an Old Dominion Fellow by the Humanities Council at Princeton University, where he resided for the 2005–2006 semester as full professor in the music department. He was also a visiting professor at Stanford University. He now stays in San Francisco.
- Evening Ragas (1970) Vasant Rai
- Shanti (1971)
- Rolling Thunder (1972) – Mickey Hart
- Shakti (1975) – Shakti with John McLaughlin
- Karuna Supreme (MPS, 1976) - John Handy with Ali Akbar Khan
- Hard Work - John Handy (ABC/Impulse, 1976)
- A Handful of Beauty (1976) – Shakti with John McLaughlin
- Diga (1976) – Diga Rhythm Band
- Natural Elements (1977) – Shakti with John McLaughlin
- Morning Ragas (1979) with Vasant Rai
- Who's to Know (1980) – L. Shankar
- Song for Everyone (1985) – L. Shankar
- Making Music (1987) with Jan Garbarek, John McLaughlin and Hariprasad Chaurasia
- Tabla Duet (1988) – Zakir Hussain & Alla Rakha
- Venu (1989) – Hariprasad Chaurasia & Zakir Hussain
- At the Edge (1990) – Mickey Hart
- Maestro's Choice Series One (1991) – Alla Rakha
- Planet Drum (1991) – Mickey Hart
- When Words Disappear (1991) – David Trasoff & Zakir Hussain
- Flights of Improvisation (1992)
- Sangeet Sartaj (1992)
- The One and Only (1992)
- Zakir Hussain and the Rhythm Experience (1992)
- Music of the Deserts (1993)
- Rag Madhuvanti / Rag Misra Tilang (1993) – Shivkumar Sharma
- Concert for Peace (1993) – Ravi Shankar
- Jog And Rageshri (1994)
- Ustad Amjad Ali Khan & Zakir Hussain (1994) – Amjad Ali Khan & Zakir Hussain
- Golden Krithis Colours – (1994) – Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan
- Raga Aberi (1995) – Shankar
- Maestro's Choice – Series Two (1995) – Sultan Khan & Zakir Hussain
- World Network Series, Vol. 1: India- Raga Purya Kalyan (1995) – Zakir Hussain & Shivkumar Sharma
- The Elements – Space (1996)
- Mickey Hart's Mystery Box (1996) – Mickey Hart
- Kirwani (1997)
- Magical Moments of Rhythm (1997)
- And the Rhythm Experience (1998)
- Essence of Rhythm (1998)
- Night Spinner (1998) – George Brooks (Moment Records)
- Supralingua (1998) – Mickey Hart
- Fire Dance (1998) collaboration with Pat Martino
- Save Our Children (1999) - Pharoah Sanders
- Remember Shakti (1999) – Remember Shakti
- Spirit into Sound (1999) – Mickey Hart
- The Believer (2000) – Remember Shakti
- Tala Matrix (2000) – Tabla Beat Science
- Golden Strings of the Sarode (2001) – Aashish Khan & Zakir Hussain
- Saturday Night in Bombay (2001) – Remember Shakti (Universal Records)
- Selects (2002)
- Summit (2002) – George Brooks (Earth Brothers Music BMI)
- The Best of Mickey Hart: Over the Edge and Back (2002) – Mickey Hart
- Live in San Francisco at Stern Grove (2002) – Tabla Beat Science
- Ustad Mohammad Omar: Virtuoso from Afghanistan (2002)- Zakir Hussain
- Energy (2003)
- Live at Miles Davis Hall (8 July 2004) – Remember Shakti
- Live at 38th Montreux Jazz Festival (18 July 2004) – Remember Shakti
- Punjabi Dhamar (2004)
- Raag Chandrakauns (2004)
- Sangam (2006) – Jazz collaboration with bandleader Charles Lloyd.
- Soukha (2006) – V. Selvaganesh (with John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, Vikku, Shrinivas) – Naive
- Global Drum Project (2007) – Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Imran Hussain, Chandan Sharma Sikiru Adepoju, Giovanni Hidalgo – Shout Factory
- The Melody of Rhythm (2009) – Bela Fleck, Zakir Hussain, Edgar Meyer
- Venu (2011) Hariprasad Chaurasia, Zakir Hussain
- Mysterium Tremendum (2012) – Mickey Hart Band
- Good Hope (2019) – Dave Holland, Zakir Hussain, Chris Potter
- Is That So? (2020) – John McLaughlin, Shankar Mahadevan, Zakir Hussain
- Heat and Dust (1983) Merchant Ivory Film
- The Perfect Murder (1988) Merchant Ivory Film
- Miss Beatty's Children (1992)
- Saaz (1998)
- Zakir and His Friends (1998)
- The Speaking Hand: Zakir Hussain and the Art of the Indian Drum (2003) Sumantra Ghosal
- Talamanam Sound Clash – Further Adventures in Hype (2003 – DVD) – Tabla Beat Science
- The Way of Beauty (2006 – DVD) – Remember Shakti
- The Rhythm Devils Concert Experience (2008 – DVD) – The Rhythm Devils
- Manto (2018)
Awards and accolades
- Awarded the titles of Padma Shri in 1988, and Padma Bhushan in 2002, becoming the youngest percussionist to be awarded these titles, given to civilians of merit by the Indian government.
- Awarded the Indo-American Award in 1990 in recognition for his outstanding cultural contribution to relations between the United States and India.
- Presented with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1990 by the President of India, making him one of the youngest musicians to receive this recognition given by the Sangeet Natak Academy, India's National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama.
- In 1992 Planet Drum, an album co-created and produced by Hussain and Mickey Hart, was awarded the first-ever Grammy for Best World Music Album, the Downbeat Critics’ Poll for Best World Beat Album and the NARM Indie Best Seller Award for a World Music Recording.
- Recipient of a 1999 National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the United States government's honour for a master in the traditional arts, presented by First Lady Hillary Clinton at the United States Senate on 28 September 1999.
- In 2005, he was named an Old Dominion Fellow by the Humanities Council at Princeton University, where he resided for the 2005–2006 semester as full professor in the music department, teaching a survey course in Indian classical music and dance.
- Recipient of the Kalidas Samman in 2006, an award for artists of exceptional achievement, from the Government of Madhya Pradesh.
- Golden Strings of the Sarode (Moment! Records 2006) with Aashish Khan and Zakir Hussain was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Traditional World Music Album category in 2006.
- In 2007, readers’ polls from both Modern Drummer and Drum! magazines named Zakir Hussain Best World Music and Best World Beat Drummer respectively.
- On 8 February 2009 for 51st Grammy Awards, Zakir Hussain won the Grammy in the Contemporary World Music Album category for his collaborative album "Global Drum Project" along with Mickey Hart, Sikiru Adepoju & Giovanni Hidalgo.
- On 23 February 2012 for Guru Gangadhar Pradhan Lifetime Achievement Award at Konark Dance & Music Festival, Organised by Konark Natya Mandap
- Summer of 2016, he was nominated for President's Medal of the Arts, however, new rule stated non-Americans could not receive the medal.
- On 18 January 2017, San Francisco Jazz Center gave Hussain a Lifetime Achievement Award
- In 2019, Sangeet Natak Academy, India's National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama, honoured Ustaad Zakir Hussain with the Academy Fellow award, also known as the Academy Ratna, for the year 2018.
- Kabir, Nasreen (2018). Zakir Hussain: A Life in Music. Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India: HarperCollins Publisher India. ISBN 978-93-5277-049-6.
- "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- Johnson, Lawrence A. (6 May 2009). "Indian tabla master Zakir Hussain says he never stops learning". The Star. Malaysia. McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. Archived from the original on 6 May 2008.
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- "The Tabla Master Who Jammed With The Grateful Dead". NPR.org.
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- "Deconstructing 'world music' at the Grammys". Afrobeat Radio. 15 February 2010. Archived from the original on 28 June 2010. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
- "'Global Drum Project' featuring Zakir Hussain wins Grammy". Express India. 9 February 2009.
- Gates, Anita (2008). "Zakir and His Friends". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. Archived from the original on 7 July 2008.
- "The Speaking Hand: Zakir Hussain and the Art of the Indian Drum". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. 2008. Archived from the original on 15 September 2008.
- "Heat and Dust". Merchant Ivory Productions.
- "Tabla Beat Science". National Geographic Music. Archived from the original on 6 February 2009.
- "International Jazz Day". International Jazz Day. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
- "Bharatnatyam in Jeans". Little India. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
- "Ustad Zakir Hussain". Cultural India. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
- "Best Of Zakir Hussain – Tabla Samrat". Calcutta Music Blog. Archived from the original on 9 August 2011.
- "Zakir Hussain Shivkumar Sharma". Carnegie Hall. Archived from the original on 15 May 2008.
- "Year wise list of recipients 1954-2014" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs (India). Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2016. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
- "Padma Vibhushan for Rangarajan, Soli Sorabjee". The Hindu. 26 January 2002. Archived from the original on 19 July 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2002.
- "SNA: Awardees List". Sangeet Natak Academy. Archived from the original on 30 May 2015.
- "Zakir Hussain: North Indian Master Tabla Drummer". www.arts.gov. National Endowment for the Arts. n.d. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
- "Past Winners Search". Grammy.com.
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