Song of Surrender

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Birthdays & Anniversaries

A. Kanan: Respected Senior Musician
By Basavi Mukerji-Rath
(Excerpted from the Sruti archives)

A. Kanan is a respected Hindustani vocalist who has had an illustrious music career spanning almost five decades. 

Gifted with a sonorous and powerful yet smooth voice, Kanan would draw crowds as big and as admiring as the luminous musicians of those days, like Bade Gulam Ali Khan and Amir Khan. His open-throated yet aesthetic gayaki was equally appealing in forms as diverse as thumri, bhajan and of course khayal, which was his mainstay. His voice remained in as much control in the lower and higher octaves and high speed as it did in the middle octave and the slower tempo. The unerring 'sur' (tunefulness) which marks his 'gayaki' even today is perhaps the most striking feature of his music. 

Born in Madras in June 1920, Kanan had his education in Hyderabad since his father was employed in the Nizam's State Railway. Also an accomplished sportsman in his schooldays, it was during a cricket tour in Bombay that he got his voice tested at All India Radio and was instantly offered a programme by its much astonished officials. Later, he himself joined the Railway. When he was sent to Calcutta by it for advance training with Saxby and Farmers (Signalling Engineers), he came in contact with vocalist Girija Shankar Chakraborty who recognised his musical genius and readily accepted him as a disciple. In no time thereafter, he emerged as a fine vocalist and a fine representative of the Bishnupur-Kirana style of gayaki. 

Kanan's melodious and captivating voice also brought him many film playback-singing assignments. Some of the songs rendered by him are still remembered and also heard. 'Dhuli', 'Meghe Dhaka Tara', 'Surer Piyashi' and 'Jadu Bhatta' in Bengali and 'Basant Bahar', 'Humdard' and 'Megh Malhar' in Hindi were some such films. Celebrities like Ustad Amir Khan, Gyan Prakash Ghosh, Pankaj Mullik, Kamal Dasgupta, R.C. Boral and Ritwik Ghatak were some of his ardent admirers and friends. Of this group, only Ghosh is alive today. 

Kanan's phenomenal success at his first All Bengal Music Conference appearance in 1943 and the persistent insistence of his friends and fans, when, after two years of training in Calcutta, it was at last time to bid adieu to the city, succeeded in finally persuading him to stay back and devote himself full time to music. Thus, he resigned from his secure job with the N.S. Railway to devote himself to music. He performed all over the country and sometimes also abroad with great success, and trained many students, often free of cost.

To read full story, buy Sruti 140

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