Kishori Amonkar was a leading Indian classical vocalist belonging to the Jaipur Gharana. Let us remember her and learn more about her on her birthday.
Kishori Amonkar was born on 10 April 1932 in Bombay. Her initial music training was by her mother, the classical vocalist Mogubai Kurdikar. In the early 1940s, young Kishori Amonkar began to receive vocal lessons in Hindustani classical music and later received training from tutors of several other gharanas.
Amonkar’s later work in light music reformed her classical singing and she modified her Jaipur gharana performance style by applying features from other gharanas. She has been both praised and criticised for pushing the boundaries of the Jaipur tradition. She was a romanticist and her approach prioritised emotional expression over tradition, so she often departed from the Jaipur gharana‘s rhythmic, melodic, and structural traditions. She has criticised the idea that schools – or gharanas – of music determine or constrain a singer’s technique.
Kishori Amonkar has expressed her views on how musical education should be conducted, emphasising the importance of enabling students to move beyond repetitive techniques and learn the tools that allow them to improvise on their own. She emphasised emotion and spirituality as essential parts of her singing. She has often spoken of music as an act of sublimation.
In addition to her career as a classical vocalist, Kishori Amonkar was known for her performances of lighter classical pieces, with a wide repertoire of thumris and bhajans, as well as some performances for film soundtracks. She sang for the soundtrack of the 1990 Hindi film ‘Drishti’.
Kishori Amonkar received several of India’s national awards and civilian honours, including the Padma Bhushan, in 1987, and Padma Vibhushan in 2002. She was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1985 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 2009. She died on 3 April 2017.