Google has today dedicated a doodle to famous singer and dancer Gauhar Jaan. The Google doodle has been dedicated to Jaan on what would have been her 145th birth anniversary.
Jaan was born on June 26 1873 in Uttar Pradesh’s Aazamgarh. Born as Angelina Yeoward, she was originally of Armenian descent. Her mother, Victoria Hemmings, was also born in India, and was a trained singer and dancer. She would however get a divorce from her husband, and move to Benaras with a Muslim nobleman, and eight-year-old Angelina. Here, both mother and daughter converted to Islam, and adopted the names Malka Jaan and Gauhar Jaan.
The duo would soon move to Calcutta where they would perform in the court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. It is here that Gauhar got her training, and became proficient in Hindustani classical music, Keertan and Rabindra Sangeet, among other forms. She was trained by legends like Kalu Ustad, Ustad Vazir Khan of Rampur, and Ustad Ali Baksh. She also learnt Kathak from legendary Brindadin Maharaj.
Gauhar gave her first performance at the royal courts of Darbhanga Raj in 1887. She was soon appointed as court musician, and by 1896 had developed a huge following in Calcutta.
She would travel across India performing, and her songs were translated into various languages. Gauhar would go on to record over 600 songs in over 10 languages. She would also become the first Indian performer to be signed by the famous Gramophone Company, and would subsequently be known as the “gramophone girl”.
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Towards the end of her life, Gauhar moved to Mysore at the invitation of Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV. He appointed her as the ‘Palace Musician’, but she died within 18 months.
Today’s Google doodle has been illustrated by Aditi Damle, and shows Gauhar performing alongside a gramophone.