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Zakir Hussain (musician)

Zakir Hussain
ذاکِر حسین
Zakir Hussain in Konark Natya Mandap, Odisha, India 2012
Background information
Born (1951-03-09) 9 March 1951
Origin Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Genres Hindustani classical music, jazz fusion, world music
Occupation(s) Tabla Maestro
Instruments Tabla
Years active 1963–present
Labels HMV
Associated acts Remember Shakti
Website .com.zakirhussainwww

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

He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1988, and the Padma Bhushan in 2002, by the Government of India.[1] He was also awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1990, given by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama. In 1999, he was awarded the United States National Endowment for the Arts's National Heritage Fellowship, the highest award given to traditional artists and musicians.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Discography 4
  • Filmography 5
  • Soundtracks 6
  • Awards and accolades 7
  • Interview 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Early life and education

Hussain was born to the legendary tabla player Alla Rakha.[2] He attended St. Michael's High School in Mahim, and graduated from St. Xavier's, Mumbai.[3]

Hussain was a child prodigy. His father taught him Pakhawaj from the age of 3 years.[4] He was touring by the age of eleven. He went to the United States in 1970, beginning his international career which includes more than 150 concert dates a year.[5]


Remember Shakti in Munich, Germany (2001): (from left) Zakir Hussain, U. Shrinivas, John McLaughlin, V. Selvaganesh.

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.[6][7] 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 won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album at the 51st Grammy Awards Ceremony held on 8 February 2009.)[8]

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 Mumbai 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 starred in several films specifically showcasing his musical performance both solo and with different bands, including the 1998 documentary "Zakir and His Friends",[9] and the documentary "The Speaking Hand: Zakir Hussain and the Art of the Indian Drum" (2003 Sumantra Ghosal).[10] Hussain co-starred as Inder Lal in the Merchant Ivory Film Heat and Dust in 1983, for which he was an associate music director.)[11]

Hussain is a founding member of Bill Laswell's 'World Music Supergroup' Tabla Beat Science.[12]

Personal life

Zakir Hussain married Antonia Minnecola, a Kathak dancer and teacher, who is also his manager.[13] They have two daughters, Anisa Qureshi and Isabella Qureshi. Anisa graduated from UCLA and is trying her hand in video production and film making. Isabella is studying dance in Manhattan.[14]

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.[15] He was also a visiting professor at Stanford University.[16] He now resides in San Francisco.


Ustad Zakir Hussain performing at Konark, Odisha
  • Evening Ragas (1970) Vasant Rai
  • Shanti (1971)
  • Rolling Thunder (1972) – Mickey Hart
  • Shakti (1975) – Shakti with John McLaughlin
  • A Handful of Beauty (1976) – Shakti with John McLaughlin
  • Diga (1976) – Diga Rhythm Band
  • Natural Elements (1977) – Shakti with John McLaughlin
  • Morning Ragas (1979) with Vasant Rai
  • Who's to Know (1980) – L. Shankar
  • Song for Everyone (1985) – L. Shankar
  • Making Music (1987) with Jan Garbarek, John McLaughlin and Hariprasad Chaurasia
  • Tabla Duet (1988) – Zakir Hussain & Alla Rakha
  • Venu (1989) – Hariprasad Chaurasia & Zakir Hussain
  • At the Edge (1990) – Mickey Hart
  • Maestro's Choice Series One (1991) – Alla Rakha
  • Planet Drum (1991) – Mickey Hart
  • When Words Disappear (1991) – David Trasoff & Zakir Hussain
  • Flights of Improvisation (1992)
  • Sangeet Sartaj (1992)
  • The One and Only (1992)
  • Zakir Hussain and the Rhythm Experience (1992)
  • Music of the Deserts (1993)
  • Rag Madhuvanti / Rag Misra Tilang (1993) – Shivkumar Sharma
  • Concert for Peace (1993) – Ravi Shankar
  • Jog And Rageshri (1994)
  • Ustad Amjad Ali Khan & Zakir Hussain (1994) – Amjad Ali Khan & Zakir Hussain
  • Golden Krithis Colours – (1994) – Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan
  • Raga Aberi (1995) – Shankar
  • Maestro's Choice – Series Two (1995) – Sultan Khan & Zakir Hussain
  • World Network Series, Vol. 1: India- Raga Purya Kalyan (1995) – Zakir Hussain & Shivkumar Sharma
  • The Elements – Space (1996)
  • Mickey Hart's Mystery Box (1996) – Mickey Hart
  • Kirwani (1997)
  • Magical Moments of Rhythm (1997)
  • And the Rhythm Experience (1998)
  • Essence of Rhythm (1998)
  • Night Spinner (1998) – George Brooks (Moment Records)
  • Supralingua (1998) – Mickey Hart
  • Fire Dance (1998) collaboration with Pat Martino
  • Save Our Children (1999) - Pharoah Sanders
  • Remember Shakti (1999) – Remember Shakti
  • Spirit into Sound (1999) – Mickey Hart
  • The Believer (2000) – Remember Shakti
  • Tala Matrix (2000) – Tabla Beat Science
  • Golden Strings of the Sarode (2001) – Aashish Khan & Zakir Hussain
  • Saturday Night in Bombay (2001) – Remember Shakti (Universal Records)
  • Selects (2002)
  • Summit (2002) – George Brooks (Earth Brothers Music BMI)
  • The Best of Mickey Hart: Over the Edge and Back (2002) – Mickey Hart
  • Live in San Francisco at Stern Grove (2002) – Tabla Beat Science
  • Ustad Mohammad Omar: Virtuoso from Afghanistan (2002)- Zakir Hussain
  • Energy (2003)
  • Live at Miles Davis Hall (8 July 2004) – Remember Shakti
  • Live at 38th Montreux Jazz Festival (18 July 2004) – Remember Shakti
  • Punjabi Dhamar (2004)
  • Raag Chandrakauns (2004)
  • Sangam (2006) – Jazz collaboration with bandleader Charles Lloyd.
  • Soukha (2006) – V. Selvaganesh (with John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, Vikku, Shrinivas) – Naive
  • Global Drum Project (2007) – Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Imran Hussain, Chandan Sharma Sikiru Adepoju, Giovanni Hidalgo – Shout Factory
  • The Melody of Rhythm (2009) – Bela Fleck, Zakir Hussain, Edgar Meyer
  • Mysterium Tremendum (2012) – Mickey Hart Band



Awards and accolades

  • Awarded the titles of Padma Shri in 1988, and Padma Bhushan in 2002,[17][18] 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 1990 by the President of India, making him one of the youngest musicians to receive this recognition given by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama.[19]
  • 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 of National Endowment for the Arts, the United States’ most prestigious honour for a master in the traditional arts, presented by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton at the United States Senate on 28 September 1999.[20]
  • 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.[21]
  • On 23 February 2012 for Guru Gangadhar Pradhan Lifetime Achievement Award at Konark Dance & Music Festival, Organised by Konark Natya Mandap


  • Masters of Percussion: An Interview with Zakir Hussain – with Douglas Heselgrave (The Music Box, Friday 12 September 2008)


  1. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  2. ^ Johnson, Lawrence A. (6 May 2008). "Indian tabla master Zakir Hussain says he never stops learning". The Star (Malaysia). McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. Archived from the original on 6 May 2008. 
  3. ^ Dhanyasree .M. "Zakir Hussain: The World Beats To His Rhythm". One India. Archived from the original on 17 December 2008. 
  4. ^ "Zakir Hussain". Mondomix. 21 February 2003. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  5. ^ "Zakir Hussain - Moment! Records". Archived from the original on 18 February 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2010. 
  6. ^ "The Global Drum Project". Planet Drum. Archived from the original on 25 February 2010. 
  7. ^ "Deconstructing 'world music' at the Grammys". Afrobeat Radio. 15 February 2010. 
  8. ^ Global Drum Project' featuring Zakir Hussain wins Grammy"'". Express India. 9 February 2009. 
  9. ^ Gates, Anita. "Zakir and His Friends". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ "The Speaking Hand: Zakir Hussain and the Art of the Indian Drum". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ "Heat and Dust". Merchant Ivory Productions. 
  12. ^ "Tabla Beat Science". National Geographic Music. Archived from the original on 6 February 2009. 
  13. ^ "Bharatnatyam in Jeans". Little India. 
  14. ^ "Ustad Zakir Hussain". Cultural India. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  15. ^ "Best Of Zakir Hussain – Tabla Samrat". Calcutta Music Blog. Archived from the original on 9 August 2011. 
  16. ^ "Zakir Hussain Shivkumar Sharma". Carnegie Hall. Archived from the original on 15 May 2008. 
  17. ^ "Year wise list of recipients 1954-2014" (PDF).  
  18. ^ "Padma Vibhushan for Rangarajan, Soli Sorabjee". The Hindu. 26 January 2002. Retrieved 26 January 2002. 
  19. ^ "SNA: Awardees List".  
  20. ^ "NEA National Heritage Fellowships: Zakir Hussain".  
  21. ^ "Past Winners Search". 

External links

  • His website
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