Zakir Hussain | The Tabla Maestro of India

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His Life: Igniting the fire of music ito millions

  • Year 1951 – Born in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.
  • Year 1978 – Married Antonia Minnecola.
  • Year 1988 – Received Padma Shri.
  • Year 1990 – Won Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.
  • Year 1999 – Founded the group Tabla Beat Science.
  • Year 2002 – Conferred with Padma Bhushan.
  • Year 2007 – Global Drum Project won a Grammy Award.

”Creative people’s work should not be tied to politics or religion. Music and art is a religion in itself.”

Ustad Zakir Hussain is a world renowned Indian Tabla Virtuoso, music producer, actor and composer. He is the pioneer of the contemporary world music movement and is regarded as most famous Indian percussion artists.


Zakir Hussain Qureshi was born to a popular tabla maestro Ustad Allarakha Qureshi and Bavi Begum. He was born on March 9, 1951 in Mumbai, Maharashtra. He had five siblings naming Taufiq Qureshi, Fazal Qureshi, Roohi Bano, Khurshid Aulia and Razia Khan.

Personal Life

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Zakir had his schooling from St. Michael’s High School in Mahim, Mumbai. Later he attended St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai for the graduation. He did his PhD in music from the University of Washington, USA. He married Antonia Minnecola, a Kathak dancer and teacher in 1978 and have two daughters Anisa Qureshi and Isabella Qureshi with her.

Musical Journey

Zakir was a child prodigy born into the family of prominent tabla player. He learned Pakhawaj from his father when he was just three and started learning tabla when he was seven. By the age of eleven he started touring and accompanying the eminent figures of Hindustani Classical Music. Being a talented accompanist, he soon caught the eyes of the world and raised the status of tabla playing fraternity. He started collaborating with many Indian and western musicians on his tours to USA and Europe.

He collaborated with Mickey Hart and other percussionists from different parts of the world for the world music album Planet Drum. The album was wildly successful and won the Grammy Award for Best World Music Album in 1991. He again collaborated with Mickey Hart in 2007 for Grammy Award winning album Global Drum Project. In another successful collaboration combining Indian music with the elements of Jazz he formed the fusion band Shakti and its second version Remember Shakti.

Zakir has also composed soundtracks for movies like Apocalypse Now(1979), Little Buddha (1993) and Vanaprastham (1999) among many others. He has also acted in several movies displaying his forte like Heat and Dust(1983), Saaz (1998), etc. He also founded World Music Supergroup named Tabla Beat Science in 1999 with Bill Laswell.

Awards and Recognition

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In an exceptional career of more than fifty years, he has performed in over 150 concerts a year. During his career, he has earned many awards and accolades. Government of India bestowed upon him Padma Shri in 1988 and Padma Bhushan in 2002. He was also awarded with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1990 by the Sangeet Natak Akademi and National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship by USA in 1999.

He was invited by the then US President Barack Obama in the All-Star Global Concert in 2016 at the White House. The Humanities council of the Princeton University, USA named him an Old Dominion Fellow for the 2005-2006 school year. Government of Madhya Pradesh awarded him with the Kalidas Samman in 2006 for his exceptional achievement as an artist.

Being the Tabla Maestro, Zakir Hussain is considered as the chief architect of the contemporary world music movement.

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