|Born||9 March 1951|
Bombay, Maharashtra, India
|Genres||Hindustani classical music, jazz fusion, world music|
|Honours||Padma Shri (1988), Padma Bhushan (2002), Padma Vibhushan (2023)|
Ustad Zakir Hussain (born 9 March 1951) is an Indian tabla player, composer, percussionist, music producer and film actor. He is the eldest son of tabla player Alla Rakha.
He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1988, the Padma Bhushan in 2002, and the Padma Vibhushan in 2023, by the Government of India. He was also awarded the Govt of India's Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1990, Fellowship of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, Ratna Sadsya in 2018. In 1999, he was awarded the United States National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Fellowship, the highest award given to traditional artists and musicians.
Hussain attended St. Michael's High School in Mahim, and graduated from St. Xavier's College, Mumbai.
Hussain played on George Harrison's 1973 album Living in the Material World and John Handy's 1973 album Hard Work. He also performed on Van Morrison's 1979 album Into the Music and Earth, Wind & Fire's 1983 album Powerlight.
Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead, who had known Hussain since the 1960s, invited him to create the special album Planet Drum, featuring drummers from different parts of the world. Featured along with Hussain, from India, was Vikku Vinayakram, with whom Hussain had collaborated in Shakti. The first Planet Drum album, released in 1991 on the Rykodisc label, went on to earn the 1992 Grammy Award for Best World Music Album, the first Grammy ever awarded in this category. The Global Drum Project album and tour brought Mickey Hart, Hussain, Sikiru Adepoju, and Giovanni Hidalgo together again in a reunion sparked by the 15th anniversary of the Planet Drum album. The album Global Drum Project won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album at the 51st Grammy Awards Ceremony held on 8 February 2009.
Hussain composed, performed and acted as Indian music advisor for the Malayalam film Vanaprastham, a 1999 Cannes Film Festival entry which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival (AFI Fest) in 1999, and won awards at 2000 Istanbul International Film Festival (Turkey), 2000 Mumbai International Film Festival (India), and 2000 National Film Awards (India). He has composed soundtracks for several movies, most notably In Custody and The Mystic Masseur by Ismail Merchant, and has played tabla on the soundtracks of Francis Coppola's Apocalypse Now, Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddha, and other films. He starred in several films specifically showcasing his musical performance both solo and with different bands, including the 1998 documentary Zakir and His Friends, and the documentary The Speaking Hand: Zakir Hussain and the Art of the Indian Drum (2003 Sumantra Ghosal). Hussain co-starred as Inder Lal in the 1983 Merchant Ivory film Heat and Dust, for which he was an associate music director.
Hussain is a founding member of Bill Laswell's world music supergroup Tabla Beat Science.
In 2016, Hussain was amongst many musicians invited by President Obama to the International Jazz Day 2016 All-Star Global Concert at the White House.
Haridas Vhatkar has been making Hussain's tablas for more than 18 years. Haridas said he learned how to make tabla so he could specially make them for Hussain.
Hussain has stated that he does not play at private gatherings, corporate events, or weddings; he believes music should not be heard at events where folks come to socialize, drink or enjoy a meal (music should be the sole purpose of the event).
Nasreen Munni Kabir compiled 15 interview sessions (each lasting about 2 hours) from 2016 to 2017 into the book Zakir Hussain: A Life in Music, which was published in 2018. This book takes the reader through Hussain's life from his youth, his years of intense training, and growth as a musician.
Hussain married Antonia Minnecola, a Kathak dancer and teacher, who is also his manager. They have two daughters, Anisa Qureshi and Isabella Qureshi. Anisa graduated from UCLA and is trying her hand in video production and film making. Isabella is studying dance in Manhattan.
Hussain has two brothers: Taufiq Qureshi, a percussionist and Fazal Qureshi, also a tabla player. Their brother Munawar died at a young age when he was attacked by a rabid dog. His eldest sister Bilquis died before Hussain was born. Another sister, Razia, died due to complications during a cataract surgery, just a few hours before their father's death in 2000. He has another sister named Khurshid.
He was named an Old Dominion Fellow by the Humanities Council at Princeton University, where he resided for the 2005–2006 semester as full professor in the music department. He was also a visiting professor at Stanford University. In May 2022, he was conferred the honorary Doctor of Law (LLD) degree for his contribution to the field of music by Mumbai University.
The line "Zakir Hussain Tabela Ivaltana" in the Tamil song "Telephone Manipol" in Indian (1996) film directed by S.Shankar is a tribute to him. This song was written by poet Vairamuthu.