Pandit Venkatesh Kumar

Profile Image

Pandit Venkatesh Kumar sings a varied brand of khayal, incorporating influences from across India. Born in Karnataka, his father was a folk singer and puppeteer who supported his son’s musical inclinations, but lacked the funds to help him pursue it (“we lived in poverty, sometimes meals were a problem”).

However at the age of 12 he was accepted as a student at the Veereshwara Punyashrama, run by the legendary saint-musician Puttaraj Gawai. He lived there for the next 12 years, mastering the Gwalior and Kirana vocal gharanas before branching out to other styles including Carnatic music.

His career launched when Pandit Bhimsen Joshi personally invited him to sing at a concert, but remained low-key for years as he preferred the stability and purity afforded by teaching positions to the unpredictable concert landscape. But he says that worldly recognition has not concerned him, as his music is a devotional endeavour (“I am after it to experience god. I am waiting for a divine experience in music every minute. This is for a lifetime.”).

"I present the bandish in the Gwalior style, and then do the vistaar in the Kirana style. When it comes to taans, especially short, sharp taans, I try to draw from Ustad Bade Ghulam Khan, Ustad Nazakat and Salamat Ali Khan...a lot of my sargam patterns are from the Carnatic tradition."  

Darbar believes in the power of Indian classical music to stir, thrill, and inspire. Explore our YouTube channel, or subscribe to the Darbar Concert Hall to watch extended festival performances, talk and documentaries in pristine HD and UHD quality. 

Other artists you may like

Omkar Dadarkar

Omkar Dadarkar’s khayal style is receiving growing plaudits across the world. He first learned from his parents, then...

read more

Begum Parveen Sultana

Begum Parveen Sultana’s voice is renowned for its extraordinary range, clarity, and versatility. Spanning nearly four...

read more

Shubha Mudgal

Shubha Mudgal’s voice is at once primal and contemporary. Her markedly individual style of khayal (a dominant form of...

read more

Rajan & Sajan Mishra

Pandit Rajan Mishra (1951-2021) & Pandit Sajan Mishra grew up in Varanasi, living, breathing, and singing the essence...

read more

See Full Festival concerts from our extensive archive,
and hundreds of other exclusive performances with
Darbar Player

Download our app and watch on the go
New exclusive releases every month
Watch anytime, anywhere


Free for 3 days. Cancel anytime.
Pay £9.95/month

Follow us

Keep up to date with the latest news, events, music and musings across our social channels

YouTube latest

For hundreds more clips and shorts, vist our YT page here

Subscribe to our newsletters

Be the first to hear before events go on sale. Get the latest news and articles from Darbar