Legendary Indian tabla player and multi Grammy winner Zakir Hussain will be in South Africa for a two concert tour of Cape Town and Johannesburg this weekend. He will be joined on this tour by leading bansuri (bamboo flute) player Rakesh Chaurasia.
Hussain is today appreciated in the field of percussion and the music world at large as an international phenomenon. A classical tabla virtuoso of the highest order, his performances have not only established him as a national treasure in his own country, India, but gained him worldwide fame. Widely considered a chief architect of the contemporary world music movement, Hussain’s contribution to world music has been unique, with many historic collaborations including Shakti, which he founded with John McLaughlin and L. Shankar.
Hussain is the son of the legendary tabla player Ustad Alla Rakha, who himself formed a formidable duo with sitarist Pandit Ravi Shankar for many decades. “I have been a tabla player all my life. I have studied with my father since I was 3 years old. I started performing professionally at the age of 12. When I was 18, I was invited by Pandit Ravi Shankar to play with him in the USA, because my father who always played with him was not well, so I was flown in as his replacement,” Hussain recounts the start of his musical history and his debut as a performing artist.
Hussain was awarded the Padma Shri in 1988, and the Padma Bhushan in 2002, by the Government of India. In 1999, he was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship by the United States National Endowment for the Arts. His first ‘Planet Drum’ album, released in 1991, went on to earn the Grammy Award for Best World Music Album, the first Grammy ever awarded in this category. His album ‘Global Drum Project’ won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album in 2009.
Hussain has composed soundtracks for several movies, including ‘In Custody’ and ‘The Mystic Masseur’ by Ismail Merchant, and has played tabla on the soundtracks of Francis Coppola’s ‘Apocalypse Now’ and Bernardo Bertolucci’s ‘Little Buddha’, amongst others.
Despite his numerous accolades, Hussain still has a progressive mindset when it comes to his musical gifts. “I have over the last 40 years tried to transpose all the learning that I have accumulated on to my instrument tabla and still this learning process continues,” says the maestro.
• Cape Town – Saturday, December 3, Cape Town International Convention Centre – 8.30pm
• Johannesburg – Sunday, December 4, The Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City – 5pm
Tickets priced from R300 can be booked at Computicket.