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95. Ustad Zakir Hussain

Born9 March 1951

GenresHindustani classical music, jazz fusion

Zakir Hussain (Hindi: ज़ाकिर हुसैन, Urdu: ذاکِر حسین), (born 9 March 1951), is an Indian tabla player, musical producer, film actor and soundtrack composer.

Early life

Hussain was born in Mumbai, India to the legendary tabla player Alla Rakha. He attended St. Michael's High School in Mahim, and graduated from St Xaviers, Mumbai.
His younger brothers are noted percussionists, Taufiq Qureshi and Fazal Qureshi and Maral Quereshi

 Musical career

Hussain was a child prodigy, and was touring by the age of twelve. He went to the United States in 1970, beginning his international career which includes more than 150 concert dates a year. In 1973, he appeared on George Harrison's Living in the Material World album. A prolific composer, he has received widespread recognition.
Hussain is a founding member of Bill Laswell's 'World Music Supergroup' Tabla Beat Science.

Hussain participates in the Silk Road collaborative musical project.  He teaches Tabla to advanced students in both San Francisco and Mumbai. Zakir participates in the Global Drum Project with percussionists from around the world.
In 1992, Hussain founded Moment! Records, which features original collaborations in the field of contemporary world music, as well as live concert performances by great masters of the classical music of India. The label presents his own world percussion ensemble, The Rhythm Experience, both North and South Indian classical recordings, Best of Shakti and the Masters of Percussion series. Moment Records’ 2006 release Golden Strings of the Sarode, with Aashish Khan and Zakir Hussain, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional World Music Album category for that year.

 John McLaughlin collaborations

Hussain worked with John McLaughlin on several Indo-Jazz projects, beginning with their collaboration in the band Shakti (band) on the albums Shakti (album) (1975 Columbia), A Handful of Beauty (1976 Columbia),and Natural Elements (1977 CBS). McLaughlin later appeared on Zakir's album Making Music. Twenty years later, they rejoined in the band Remember Shakti, recording the albums Remember Shakti (1999 Universal Records), The Believer (2000 Universal Records), Saturday Night in Bombay (2001 Universal Records), Live at 38th Montreux Jazz Festival (18 July 2004), and Live at Miles Davis Hall (8 July 2004). They also appeared in the DVD The Way of Beauty. Both bands performed live both in the U.S. and abroad as recently as 2008.

 Mickey Hart collaborations

Hussain has collaborated with Mickey Hart on many projects, beginning with Hart's first solo album Rolling Thunder, and including Diga, At The Edge, Planet Drum, Mickey Hart's Mystery Box, Supralingua, Spirit into Sound, and Global Drum Project. He has been part of several of his bands including the Diga Rhythm Band, Planet Drum, Bembe' Orishas, and the Global Drum Project. These projects have brought him together with such masters of world percussion and music as Sikiru Adepoju, Airto Moreira, Flora Purim, Babatunde Olatunji, and Giovanni Hidalgo.
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 has won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album at the 51st Grammy Awards Ceremony held on 8 February 2009.

 Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer collaborations

When Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer were asked to compose a triple concerto by the Nashville Symphony, they both named Hussain as their first choice for the third member. The piece, titled The Melody of Rhythm; Concerto premiered on September 9, 2006 with Leonard Slatkin conducting the Nashville Symphony. The trio composed several more songs together, and included both the concerto and additional works on a CD released in 2009 entitled The Melody of Rhythm - Triple Concerto & Music for Trio (2009 E1 Music). On the recording, the orchestral parts are performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, with Leonard Slatkin once again holding the baton. The liner notes indicate the trio has more projects in mind for the future.

 Film career

Hussain starred in the Merchant Ivory Film Heat and Dust in 1983, for which he also composed the score. He 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 Bombay 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 also composed the soundtrack of the Aparna Sen's Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, being himself the singer of some of the songs, for the first time in cinema.
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). He also performs in the DVDs The Rhythm Devils Concert Experience (2008), and The Way of Beauty (2006) with the band Remember Shakti.

Personal life

Zakir Hussain married Antonia Minnecola, a Kathak dancer and teacher, who is also his manager.
Zakir Hussain has two daughters Anisa Qureshi and Isabella Qureshi. Anisa Qureshi graduated from UCLA and is trying her hand in video production and film making. The other daughter, Isabella is studying as a dance major in Manhattan.
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.


  • Global Drum Project (2007) – Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Sikiru Adepoju, Giovanni Hidalgo - Shout Factory
  • Soukha - V. Selvaganesh (with John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, Vikku, Shrinivas) - Naive
  • Sangam (2006) - Jazz collaboration with bandleader Charles Lloyd.
  • Punjabi Dhamar (2004)
  • Raag Chandrakauns (2004)
  • Live at 38th Montreux Jazz Festival (18 July 2004) - Remember Shakti
  • Live at Miles Davis Hall (8 July 2004) - Remember Shakti
  • Energy (2003)
  • The Best of Mickey Hart: Over the Edge and Back (2002) – Mickey Hart
  • Selects (2002)
  • Live in San Francisco at Stern Grove (2002) - Tabla Beat Science
  • Summit (2002) - George Brooks (Earth Brothers Music BMI)
  • Golden Strings of the Sarode (2001) - Aashish Khan & Zakir Hussain
  • Saturday Night in Bombay (2001) - Remember Shakti (Universal Records)
  • Tala Matrix (2000) – Tabla Beat Science
  • Spirit into Sound (2000) – Mickey Hart
  • The Believer (2000) - Remember Shakti
  • Remember Shakti (1999) - Remember Shakti
  • And the Rhythm Experience (1998)
  • Night Spinner (1998) - George Brooks (Moment Records)
  • Supralingua (1998) – Mickey Hart
  • Essence of Rhythm (1998)
  • Magical Moments of Rhythm (1997)
  • Kirwani (1997)
  • The Elements - Space (1996)
  • Mickey Hart's Mystery Box (1996) – Mickey Hart
  • Maestro's Choice - Series Two (1995) - Sultan Khan & Zakir Hussain
  • Raga Aberi (1995) - Shankar
  • Golden Krithis Colours - (1994) - Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan
  • Jog And Rageshri (1994)
  • Ustad Amjad Ali Khan & Zakir Hussain (1994) - Amjad Ali Khan & Zakir Hussain
  • Concert for Peace (1993) - Ravi Shankar
  • Music of the Deserts (1993)
  • Rag Madhuvanti / Rag Misra Tilang (1993) - Shivkumar Sharma
  • Flights of Improvisation (1992)
  • The One and Only (1992)
  • Sangeet Sartaj (1992)
  • Zakir Hussain and the Rhythm Experience (1992)
  • Maestro's Choice Series One (1991) - Alla Rakha
  • Planet Drum (1991) – Mickey Hart
  • When Words Disappear (1991) - David Trasoff & Zakir Hussain
  • At the Edge (1990) – Mickey Hart
  • Venu (1989) - Hariprasad Chaurasia & Zakir Hussain
  • Tabla Duet (1988) - Zakir Hussain & Alla Rakha
  • Making Music (1987) with Jan Garbarek, John McLaughlin and Hariprasad Chaurasia
  • Song for Everyone (1985) - L. Shankar
  • Morning Ragas (1979) with Vasant Rai
  • Natural Elements (1977) - Shakti with John McLaughlin
  • A Handful of Beauty (1976) - Shakti with John McLaughlin
  • Diga (1976) – Diga Rhythm Band
  • Shakti (1975) - Shakti with John McLaughlin
  • Rolling Thunder (1972) – Mickey Hart
  • Shanti (1971)
  • Evening Ragas (1970) Vasant Rai


  • The Rhythm Devils Concert Experience (2008 – DVD) – The Rhythm Devils
  • The Way of Beauty (2006 - DVD) - Remember Shakti
  • 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
  • Zakir and His Friends (1998)
  • Heat and Dust (1983) Merchant Ivory Film
  • Saaz


  • One Dollar Curry (2003) - Vijay Singh (writer and filmmaker)
  • Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002) - Aparna Sen
  • The Mystic Masseur (2001) - Ismail Merchant
  • Vanaprastham (1999) - Shaji N. Karun
  • Little Buddha (1993) - Bernardo Bertolucci
  • In Custody (1993) - Ismail Merchant
  • Apocalypse Now (1979) - Francis Coppola
  • Saaz

 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 1991 by the President of India, making him one of the youngest musicians to receive this recognition from India's governing cultural institute.
  • 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 the 1999 National Heritage Fellowship, the United States’ most prestigious honor for a master in the traditional arts, presented by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton at the United States Senate on September 28, 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 prestigious 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.

Source : Wikipedia

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