Search engine Google today honoured legendary Indian singer and dancer, Gauhar Jaan, on her 145th birth anniversary.
Born as Eileen Angelina Yeoward in Azamgarh, in what was then the United Provinces in 1873, Gauhar was a woman of exceptional beauty, talent and grace.
Gauhar symbolised the secular ethos that Indian classical music is known for – her grandmother was a Hindu, grandfather a British and father Armenian Christian.
Gauhar embraced Islam and remained a devout Muslim all her life, though most of her compositions were replete with Krishna bhakti.
Gauhar was one of the first performers to record music on 78 rpm records in India, and released by Gramophone Company of India.
Gauhar gave her maiden performance at the royal courts of Darbhanga Raj in 1887 and was the court musician after receiving extensive dance and music training from a professional dancer at Banaras.
Jaan started performing in Calcutta in 1896 and was called the ‘first dancing girl’ in her records.
Gauhar Jaan, who was one of the most flamboyant, fiesty and news-making artiste of her time, with her photograph on match boxes and postcards.
In 1902, Frederick William Gaisberg, the Gramophone Company’s first India agent, chose Gauhar as the first Indian artiste to record.
Gauhar’s songs are part of the ‘Vintage Music From India’ audio album, and her image forms its cover.
On November 11,1902 a hotel room in Calcutta was converted into a makeshift studio. Gauhar Jaan sang into a huge recording horn which was fitted to a turntable that rotated at 78 RPM.
This was the first ever recording in India. Gauhar Jaan went on to record over 600 songs in over 10 languages between 1902 and 1920.
In her lifetime, she recorded more than 600 records.