Kishori Amonkar’s Sublime Musical Journey: Fellow Singer Remembers

“Her music was also characterised by the use of emotion which used to send her into a trance.”

On the occasion of her 86th birth anniversary, The Quint is reposting this tribute to iconic Hindustani classical singer, Kishori Amonkar from its archives.

Shrimati Kishori Amonkar, well-known classical singer and Padma Vibhushan awardee, breathed her last on Monday night. With her passing away, the world of classical music has lost one of its most outstanding exponents.

She was devoted to music in the true sense. She was groomed by her mother in the Jaipur Gharana style of khayal singing and simultaneously Kishoriji imbibed the nuances of Agra Gharana as well as Bhendi Bazaar Gharana (from Anjanibai Malpekar).

She was deeply interested in studies and appreciated the fact that I was educationally qualified. She told me, “It is very important for an artist to be educated. It is good that you took care of your studies.”

She spoke English fluently and used to tell me, “Take pride in yourself and try and win the respect of others.”

In Kishoriji’s singing, one finds a blend of simplicity, complexity and fluidity. She, in many of her performances, gave glimpses of her playful behaviour. Because of her command over voice and taal, she could execute the most complicated and awe-inspiring taans, both in simple and complex ragas.

Her music was also characterised by the use of emotion that used to send her into a trance. Experimentation was also a key component of her singing.

While rendering traditional compositions, her innovative talent often shone through. Whatever idea she gathered from her reflection on music, she presented to the audience without hesitation.

Devoted to the deep study of notes (swara) and emotions (bhav), she would tell students, “Surrender to the swara, and music will be yours.”

In the first half of 1970s, she attended one of my concerts and met me backstage afterwards. She hugged me and told me, “I was apprehensive that the Jaipur Gharana will come to an end after I am no more, but you are a torchbearer of this dynasty... keep singing.”

She was always kind and courteous to me. Tai was always curious to know about a new genre of music. Last year in February, during the Gaan Saraswati Mahotsav, my lecture demonstration on Haveli sangeet was arranged as per her insistence.

She sang till the very end of her life. She kept embracing the goodness associated with music and kept experimenting with full confidence with traditional classical music.

She was a true kalakaar. She had her share of moods but once she was with tanpuras she was lost in herself. She was loving and encouraging towards youngsters. For her, music was the essence of life.

It is impossible to have another Kishoriji.

(Prof Shruti Sadolikar Katkar is a Hindustani classical singer and is a Vice Chancellor at Bhatkhande Music Institute in Lucknow. The opinion expressed in the article above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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