An all-female ghazal group set to take center stage

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Many suave female voices graced a mehfil of ghazal across the subcontinent and beyond, for decades. Singers like Farida Khanum, Begum Akhtar, Chitra Singh, Iqbal Bano and Nayyara Noor have made their voices heard in a world dominated by their male counterparts such as Jagjit Singh, Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali and Pankaj Udhas.

Ghazal singers are always accompanied on stage by male musicians. We rarely met a musician at a concert of ghazals. This tradition is about to change, however.

A newly formed ghazal group has women playing all the instruments. Singer Gayatri Asokan’s band are ready to debut, shattering a long-standing glass ceiling.

It was after a discussion with her manager that Gayatri, a state award-winning playback singer who is also making rapid progress in the ghazal, decided to form an all-female group.

“After the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, there were no live concerts on stage for me, like other artists, and I thought I should try something new when the world comes out. of the lockdown,” Gayatri said. The Hindu by phone from Mumbai. “I thought it would be great if I could find female musicians and try to form a band, the first of its kind in India.”

She knew she was trying something no one had tried before. “In my two decades of playing ghazals on stage, I have never been accompanied by a musician; nor have I seen women playing instruments in a ghazal concert,” she says. “I know it’s a break from tradition, but I hope music lovers will cheer on our band.”

The group includes Mukta Raste on tabla, Megha Rawoot on sitar, Nastya, a Russian living in India, on violin and flute, and Kaushiki Joglekar on keyboard. “They are all very talented and we train here in Mumbai,” she says. “We are all looking forward to our first performance.”

Due to the pandemic situation, the group will debut with an online show, which will be broadcast on livdemy.com on November 13.

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