Zakir Hussain (musician)

Zakir Hussain Qureshi
ذاکِر حسین

Zakir Hussain Qureshi in Konark Natya Mandap, Odisha, India 2012
Background information
Birth name Zakir Hussain Qureshi
Also known as Zakir hussain
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

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

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 1969 to do his PhD at the University of Washington, receiving a doctorate in music. After that he began his international career, including more than 150 concert dates a year.[3][5]


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]

In 2016, Zakir Hussain was amongst many legendary Jazz, World and Fusion musicians invited by President Obama to the International Jazz Day 2016 All-Star Global Concert at the White House. [13]

Personal life

Zakir Hussain married Antonia Minnecola chotta cola., a Kathak dancer and teacher, who is also his manager.[14] 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.[15]

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.[16] He was also a visiting professor at Stanford University.[17] He now resides in San Francisco.


Ustad Zakir Hussain performing at Konark, Odisha



Awards and accolades



  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. 1 2 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. "International Jazz Day". International Jazz Day. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  14. "Bharatnatyam in Jeans". Little India.
  15. "Ustad Zakir Hussain". Cultural India. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  16. "Best Of Zakir Hussain – Tabla Samrat". Calcutta Music Blog. Archived from the original on 9 August 2011.
  17. "Zakir Hussain Shivkumar Sharma". Carnegie Hall. Archived from the original on 15 May 2008.
  18. "Year wise list of recipients 1954-2014" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs (India).
  19. "Padma Vibhushan for Rangarajan, Soli Sorabjee". The Hindu. 26 January 2002. Retrieved 26 January 2002.
  20. "SNA: Awardees List". Sangeet Natak Akademi.
  21. "NEA National Heritage Fellowships: Zakir Hussain". National Endowment for the Arts.
  22. "Past Winners Search".
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