The Indian cultural landscape has many rifts, on the one hand between classical and popular music and on the other between various traditions, so Shubha Mugdal is unusual in combining the apparently irreconcilable in one person. She is a classical musician, composer and pop-star at one and the same time and is widely esteemed for her skill, creativity and innovation. ´My music is first and foremost abstract, improvised classical Indian music. But I also feel myself to be a woman in the here and now and am inquisitive about other musical traditions and needs. On the level of art I can enter into a dialogue with people from all round the world.´
Born in 1959 in Allahabad in the north of India this singer grew up in a family fond of music and literature and was taught by eminent musicians and musicologists like Ram Ashreya Jha (Allahabad), Vinaya Chandra Maudgalya and Vasant Thakar (Delhi). She became a virtuoso in the classical Hindustani Khyal song tradition and a passionate researcher in the field of Indian vocal music. On moving to the capital Delhi, she had more scope for experimentation and independence.
She has established herself as not only a singer but also as a composer. Her settings of mystical poems from the Muslim Sufi-tradition and of rare Hindu texts have been highly praised by critics, though taken less warmly by Hindu traditionalists. She won popularity throughout India with her album "Ali More Angana" with devotional music suitable for dancing to. It became a dance-floor hit and led to her videos´ being shown on Indian MTV.
Shubha Mudgal composes for dance and ballet and writes music for films and television. Her best known joint ventures in this field may be her co-operation with the renowned film directress Mira Nair on the film ´Kama Sutra: A Tale Of Love" and with Rajan Khosa on ´Dance of the Wind´. She was asked to compose music for the exhibition ´Padshahnama´ in the British Museum in London and has received many other honours and awards. In 1996 for instance she received the prize for best music-directing in a documentary film at the Film Festival of India, and in 2000 the esteemed Order of Art ´Padma Shri´ from the Indian government.
Author: Gabriele Stiller-Kern
This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.
New Perspectives from India
(19 September 03 - 16 November 03)