Kaushiki Chakraborty

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Kaushiki Chakraborty’s astonishing khayal vocal technique is the result of years of intense training. She spent much of her childhood living at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy, one of India’s premiere music institutions, while her father Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty worked there as a khayal scholar.

Staff at the academy are said to recall how she would respond to melodic phrases at six months old, and how she was singing tarana and bhajan before the age of two. In her words, “by the time I was five my singing made sense...Such was my addiction that it was beyond my grandparents to tame and make me sit with books”. Quickly hailed as a prodigy, she entered the concert arena early to great acclaim, performing widely while also earning a Masters in Philosophy from Jadavpur University.

She hails from the Patiala gharana, known for a strong Islamic influence and elaborate melodic ornamentation, and has become one of the first female singers from this tradition to receive international recognition. Today she focuses on Hindustani classical music, but has also sung in films and recorded popular songs. She also leads Sakhi, a diverse group of female musicians and dancers, explaining that the project “is about understanding, from a female perspective, the diverse culture of India through all its traditional musical forms.”

"One has to mentally align oneself to the form...My training has taught me two approaches to music – to do music and or to become it. The latter gives you the fluidity to transcend form and become one with it."

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