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ZOHRABAI AGREWALI (1868-1913)


Zohrabai was a Hindustani classical singer. Like Gauhar Jan (q.v.), she came from a courtesan background and was the last of the great tawaifs. Her style of singing was particularly flamboyant and masculine. She belonged to the Agra gharana, hence her surname of Agrewali, and was trained by Ustad Sher Khan, nephew of Ghagge Khuda Baksh who imported Khayal from Gwalior. She also learnt from Ustad Kallan Khan and Mehboob Khan (Daras Piya). She sang both khayal and thumri with some delightful ghazals which she learned from Ahmad Khan of Dhaka. She is said to have influenced Ustad Faiyaz Khan, and to have been greatly esteemed by Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan of the Patiala Gharana. Gangubai Hangal (q.v.) is said to have modeled her singing style on Zohrabai. Only short pieces by her survive in a number of 78 rpm recordings dating from the first two decades of the twentieth century, including matki more re goras in raga Jaunpuri or dekhen ko man lalchay in raga Sohni from 1909. These recordings are very rare.
 
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