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The Singing Sensation – Gangubai Hangal

Padma Vibhushan Smt Gangubai Hangal

Gangubai Hangal, a famous Hindustani Singer from Karnataka who sang under the Khyal genre, was known for her mellifluous but deep voice.
Her Early Life and Learning
gangubai-hangalGangubai Hangal was born on 5th March 1913 to Ambabai (a Carnatic vocalist) and Chikkurao Nadiger (an agriculturist) in Dharwad. Gangubai completed her elementary education from a local school and migrated to Hubli with her family in 1928.
She chose to learn Hindustani music under the tutelage of Krishna Acharya. As a student of Hindustani music, she was also trained by Dattopant Desai and the divine Sawai Gandharva. Initially she was not trained by Guru Gandharva regularly but she became his permanent disciple when Gandharva came to reside at Hubli permanently.
Her Singing Career and Rise to Fame
Hangal’s family was ostracized by the society because she was of an inferior caste and women from her caste were not allowed to sing. Hangal learnt how to sing against all odds and by 1945, she had already performed all over India and through AIR (All India Radio) too.
Hangal began her career as a thumri and bhajan singer but proceeded to excel in Khyal. After concentrating in Khyal, Hangal never sang light classical music, and instead, she only performed ragas. She gave her last performance in 2006, to celebrate her music career spanning 75 years.
Awards, Achievements and Recognitions
Gangubai Hangal holds rare distinction of accepting awards from five Presidents of India and nine Prime Ministers. She also served as the senate member of the Karnataka University. The singer was bestowed with more than 50 awards throughout her career spanning 75 years. Some of the prominent recognitions were:
Padma Bhushan , 1971
Padma Vibhushan, 2002
Karnataka Sangeet Nrithya Award , 1962
Gangubai with Bhimsen Joshi
Sangeet Natak Academy Award , 1973
Sangeet Natak Academy Fellowship, 1996
Her Later Years and Demise

She bravely fought against bone marrow cancer in 2003, but gave way to cardiac arrest at the age of 96, at Hubli. She donated her eyes as a part of awareness increasing program for organ donation. Gangubai set an example for others by agreeing to donate her eyes to Dr. M.M Joshi Eye Institute and post her death; this wish of hers was fulfilled.
Hangal got married at the age of 16, to Gururao Kaulgi, a Brahmin lawyer. She is survived by two sons Babu Rao and Narayan Rao. Her daughter passed away at the age of 75 in 2004, after battling cancer for long time.
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Vidushi Gangubai Hangal passes away: (1913 - 2009)
The doyenne of the Kirana gharana, Gangubai Hangal, who mesmerized audiences with her melodious voice for over seven decades, died at a hospital in Hubli on July 21st 2009. The frail 97 yr old was suffering from severe chest congestion and anemia.
Despite being diagnosed with bone cancer in 2002, it was her "never say die spirit" which made Gangubai battle the disease for three years and survive. On December 15, 2005 Gangubai, affectionately known as "Baiji" among the music fraternity, gave her first concert to a select audience after recovering from cancer and had been performing since then. Undeterred by her failing health, the renowned musician was still teaching music to her disciples who came from as far as Mumbai and Sangli in Maharashtra. Gangubai is survived by her two sons Narayan Rao and Babu Rao. Her daughter Krishna Hangal, who was trained by her in music passed away in 2004, causing Gangubai great sadness in her old age.
Vidushi Gangubai Hangal was born in 1913 to a family of hereditary courtesan musicians from Hangal, a small village near Dharwad in North Karnataka, India. Other than her mother Smt Ambabai, Gangubai owed her musical training to Shri Krishnacharya, Shri Dattopant Desai and most significantly, to Pandit Rambhau Kundgolkar, better known as Sawai Gandharva, to whom her mother took her for training. Thereafter she was justifiably the torch bearer of the Kirana gharana, the main architect of which was Ustad Abdul Karim Khan. Another strong influence on Gangubai`s music, though indirect, was the Agra gharana singer Zohrabai.
Gangubai`s stage debut took place in Mumbai, at the Bombay Music Circle, where she was heard by several eminent musicians. After her debut, Jaddan Bai (mother of film actress Nargis) convinced her to participate in a music conference in Calcutta, where she was awarded a gold medal by the Maharaja of Tripura. In 1924, on the opening day of the Indian National Congress session in Belgaum, Gangubai sang the National Anthem when she was only 11 years old. In 1928 her family shifted to Hubli where she lived ever since.

In her long and distinguished career spanning nearly 80 years, Gangubai Hangal retained a pre-eminent position amongst the most outstanding vocalists of Hindustani classical music. A recipient of more than 50 awards, including the Padma Vibhushan, the Padma Bhushan and the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, four honorary doctoral degrees and 24 titles, Ms. Hangal had the rare honour of being felicitated by nine Prime Ministers and five Presidents. Karnataka University awarded her an honorary doctorate degree. She was also nominated by the Government of Karnataka to the Legislative Assembly in recognition of her service to music. She created history by giving a public concert at the age of 94. .
Gangubai Hangal's ashes immersed
Gangubai when Rajesh Kanna Visited her

TNN Jul 23, 2009, 10.27pm IST
Hindustani vocalist Gangubai Hangal's `chitabhasma' (ashes) were immersed in the Tungabhadra River waters near Harihar town on Thursday.
DC K Amaranarayana, SP Sandeep Patil, AC Janaki and Harihar tahsildar were present when Gangubai's family members sons Baburao, Narayana Rao and grandson Manjo Hangal immersed the ashes in the river.

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