Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gauhar Jaan

Gauhar Jaan (1873 -1930) was an Indian singer and dancer from Calcutta. She was one of the first performers to record music on 78 rpm records in India.
Gauhar Jaan was born as Angelina Yeoward in 1873 in Patna, to William Robert Yeoward, an Armenian Jew working as an engineer in dry ice factory at Azamgarh, near Banaras, who married a Jewish Armenian lady, Allen Victoria Hemming around 1870. Victo
ria was born and brought up in India, and trained in music and dance.
Within a few years in 1879, the marriage ended, causing hardships to both mother and daughter, who later migrated to Banaras in 1881, with a Muslim nobleman, 'Khursheed', who appreciated Victoria's music more than her husband.
Later, Victoria, converted to Islam and changed Angelina's name to 'Gauhar Jaan' and hers to 'Malka Jaan'
A major milestone in the history of Indian music occurred in 1902. It was in this year that Gauhar Jan was asked by the "Gramophone Company" to record a series of songs for them. This corpus of recordings became a cornerstone for their business for many years. She was paid 3000 rupees per recording, which was considered a lot of money in those days. As it turned out, the historical value of these recordings would be priceless. From 1902 to 1920 she recorded over 600 songs in more than 10 languages. She became India' s first "recording star", who learned very early on the value of the recording industry for advancing her career. It should be noted that she is often given credit for developing the three minute format for classical performances. This was the time limit imposed by the recording technology of the day. This format remained the standard until the advent of lp recordings many decades later

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