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MOGUBAI KURDIKAR (1904-2001)


Mogubai Kurdikar was a Hindustani classical singer of the Jaipur-Atralui gharana and the mother of the singer Kishori Amonkar. She was born on 15 July to a community of traditional entertainers in the village of Kurdi in Portuguese-ruled Goa. When she was nine or ten her mother, Jayashree, joined the Chandreshwar Bhootnāth Sangeet Mandali, a travelling theatre company, and the two of them began to act in plays. Shortly afterward Jayashree died, leaving Mogu alone in the world. It is said that her deathbed message to Mogu was that she must become a famous singer or her mother’s soul would not rest in peace. Some time later the theatre company closed but Mogu was hired by the rival Sātārkar Stree Sangeet Mandali. She soon became renowned for her acting of Subhadra in the eponymous play and of Kinkini in Punyaprabhav.

However, professional rivalries with other actors in the company forced Mogu to leave. She moved to the town of Sangli to pursue her ambition of learning music, and managed to get some lessons from Inayat Khan of the Rampur-Sahaswan gharana, but he refused to teach her further. By a stroke of luck, the famous singer Alladiya Khan was in Sangli at that time being treated for an illness. He happened to hear Mogubai practicing and stopped at her house one day and offered to teach her.

Later Mogu was famous enough to carry on as a solo performer, but she wanted the status of being a recognized expert in the field. Her daughter was born in 1931, and she redoubled her efforts to become the best. At last Alladiya had to acknowledge her determination and become her teacher in 1934. After Independence her fame spread and she was hailed as one of the foremost female Hindustani classical vocalists with a host of equally renowned students, including her own daughter, Kishori Amonkar. Mogu received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1968, the Padma Bhushan in 1974 and the Sangeet Research Academy in 1980.
 
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