Gangubai Hangal, a famous Hindustani Singer from Karnataka who sang under the Khyal genre, was known for her mellifluous but deep voice.
Her Early Life and Learning
Gangubai Hangal was born on 5th March 1913 to Ambabai (a Carnatic vocalist) and Chikkurao Nadiger (an agriculturist) in Dharwad. Gangubai completed her elementary education from a local school and migrated to Hubli with her family in 1928.
She chose to learn Hindustani music under the tutelage of Krishna Acharya. As a student of Hindustani music, she was also trained by Dattopant Desai and the divine Sawai Gandharva. Initially she was not trained by Guru Gandharva regularly but she became his permanent disciple when Gandharva came to reside at Hubli permanently.
Her Singing Career and Rise to Fame
Hangal’s family was ostracized by the society because she was of an inferior caste and women from her caste were not allowed to sing. Hangal learnt how to sing against all odds and by 1945, she had already performed all over India and through AIR (All India Radio) too.
Hangal began her career as a thumri and bhajan singer but proceeded to excel in Khyal. After concentrating in Khyal, Hangal never sang light classical music, and instead, she only performed ragas. She gave her last performance in 2006, to celebrate her music career spanning 75 years.
Awards, Achievements and Recognitions
Gangubai Hangal holds rare distinction of accepting awards from five Presidents of India and nine Prime Ministers. She also served as the senate member of the Karnataka University. The singer was bestowed with more than 50 awards throughout her career spanning 75 years. Some of the prominent recognitions were:
- Padma Bhushan , 1971
- Padma Vibhushan, 2002
- Karnataka Sangeet Nrithya Award , 1962
- Sangeet Natak Academy Award , 1973
- Sangeet Natak Academy Fellowship, 1996
Her Later Years and Demise
She bravely fought against bone marrow cancer in 2003, but gave way to cardiac arrest at the age of 96, at Hubli. She donated her eyes as a part of awareness increasing program for organ donation. Gangubai set an example for others by agreeing to donate her eyes to Dr. M.M Joshi Eye Institute and post her death; this wish of hers was fulfilled.
Hangal got married at the age of 16, to Gururao Kaulgi, a Brahmin lawyer. She is survived by two sons Babu Rao and Narayan Rao. Her daughter passed away at the age of 75 in 2004, after battling cancer for long time.