Gauhar Jaan, Gramophone Girl, remembered by Google Doodle on 145th birth anniversary

NEW DELHI: Gauhar Jaan was remembered by Google today, which dedicated its latest Google doodle to the legendary Indian singer and dancer her 145th birth anniversary. Born on June 26, 1873, Gauhar Jaan was one of the first performers to be signed by the famous Gramophone Company in India, giving her the name "the Gramophone Girl". Born Angelina Yeoward, Gauhar adopted her name after converting to Islam in Banaras. Her mother, Victoria Hemmings, a famous Kathak dancer and singer, had also adopted an Indian name, Malka Jaan.

The duo moved to Kolkata and established themselves in the courts of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. Gauhar gave her maiden performance at the royal courts of Darbhanga Raj in 1887 and was appointed as a court musician after receiving extensive dance and music training from a professional dancer at Banaras. She was also called the "first dancing girl" in her records.

Gauhar traveled extensively across India holding several performances. Her Hindustani and Urdu songs were published in different languages. In her final days, Gauhar Jaan moved to Mysore at the invitation of Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV of Mysore. On August 1, 1928, she was appointed the ‘Palace Musician', though she died within 18 months.

In her lifetime, Gauhar recorded more than 600 records from 1902 to 1920 in more than ten languages, including Bengali, Gujarati, Tamil, Marathi, Arabic, Persian, Pushto, French, and English. She would round off her performances by announcing "My name is Gohar Jaan."

She popularised light Hindustani classical music with her thumri, dadra, kajri, chaiti, bhajan, tarana renditions, and also mastered the technique of condensing performing the elaborate melody Hindustani classical style to just three and a half minutes for a record.

Gauhar died on January 17, 1930, in Mysore.


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