Florence Foster Jenkins was an American socialite who was often ridiculed and mocked for her poor singing ability, which in turn made her popular. Known as the world's worst opera singer, Jenkins became a musical cult-figure in New York City due to her technical incompetence as an amateur soprano. Her life inspired several plays and films, including Florence Foster Jenkins.
Fort Kochi-born K.J. Yesudas is a major figure of Indian Malyali music. Known as Dasettan to his followers, the singer is an eight-time National Award winner and has the prestigious Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Vibhushan in his kitty. He has also acted in a few regional films.
Zakir Hussain is an Indian musician, tabla virtuoso, percussionist, composer, and music producer. Widely regarded as one of the greatest tabla players of all time, Hussain has received many prestigious awards in his illustrious career. In 1990, he was honored with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. In 2002, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian award.
M.S. Subbulakshmi was an Indian singer. Dubbed the Queen of Music, Subbulakshmi was the leading exponent of Carnatic music. In 1966, she became the first Indian to perform in UN General Assembly. In 1974, she became the first Indian musician to be awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award. In 1998, Subbulakshmi became the first musician to be awarded the Bharat Ratna.
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Better known as Janaki Amma, playback singer S. Janaki had begun her career with the Tamil film Vidhiyin Vilayattu. Also known as the Nightingale of South India, she has lent her voice to over 48,000 songs. Following her retirement, she has been the victim of death hoaxes at least twice.
Gwalior-born composer Tansen, also known as Ramtanu Pandey, was an iconic figure of Hindustani classical music. Best known for his dhrupad and raga compositions, he was one of the navratnas, or nine gems, of Mughal emperor Akbar’s court. He also invented a stringed instrument named the rabab.
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Joe Hisaishi is a Japanese composer and musical director who has composed over 100 film scores and solo albums. Active since the 1970s, he has explored and incorporated numerous genres in his work. He often collaborates with animator Hayao Miyazaki and has composed music for most of his films. He has received a Medal of Honour with a purple ribbon.
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Usha Mangeshkar belongs to the iconic Mangeshkar musical family of India and is the second-youngest child of Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar. She, and her famous siblings, Lata and Asha, once rocked the Hindi playback scene. Her song Mai Toh Aarti from Jai Santoshi Maa earned her a Filmfare nomination.
Surdas was an Indian poet and singer best remembered for his devotion to Lord Krishna. He is credited with writing the popular book, Sur Sagar. He was blind by birth and was neglected by his family. Surdas was inspired by the teachings of Vallabha Acharya, who he met while going on a pilgrimage to Vrindavan.
Sadhana Sargam is an Indian playback singer best known for recording nearly 15,000 songs in 34 Indian languages. In 2002, Sadhana Sargam became the first non-South Indian singer to receive the National Award for a song composed by a South Indian. She has also won other prestigious awards like Maharashtra State Film Awards, Lata Mangeshkar Award, and Gujarath State Film Award.
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Legendary sarod player Ustad Amjad Ali Khan was born to a court musician in Gwalior and performed his first recital at age 6. He later took the sarod to the international stage, with performances in the US and other countries. The Padma Vibhushan winner’s two sons, too, are classical musicians.
It is believed, during his struggling days, legendary music director Naushad would often sleep on the footpath near the Broadway theater in Bombay. The Padma Bhushan-winning composer, who is known for his music in films such as Baiju Bawra and Mughal-e-Azam, popularized classical music ijn Hindi films.
Being a descendant of violinist Leopold Auer, Hungarian-Austrian composer Gyorgy Ligeti was no stranger to music in childhood. He lost his entire family, except his mother, to the Holocaust, but that didn’t prevent him from studying music later. He rose to be a legend of avant-garde music.
Francisco Tárrega was a Spanish composer and classical guitarist active during the Romantic period. He is often considered the father of classical guitar and is counted among the greatest guitarists of all time. He loved music from an early age and was able to build a successful career with his father’s encouragement. He died at the peak of his career.
Mikhail Glinka was a Russian composer who is considered the fountainhead of classical music in Russia. Glinka was the first Russian musician to achieve widespread acclaim within his own country. His compositions went on to influence subsequent generations of Russian composers, such as the members of The Five.