He may be one of the greatest
percussionists around but tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain is
wary of being seen as the "torchbearer" of Indian classical
"As far as Indian music is concerned I wouldn't call
myself a torchbearer. It's the media that focuses on it, like
at one time Pandit Ravi Shankar was the poster boy of Indian
music. It did not matter that there were equally good sitar
players in India that time. Everybody talked about him and not
others like Pandit Nikhil Banerjee or Ustad Ali Anwar Khan,","
Zakir Hussain told PTI
Music runs in Zakir's blood as his father Alla Rakha was
the legendary tabla player. Zakir Hussain, who was touring by the
age of 12, did his schooling and graduation in Mumbai and
later went to the US in 1970 that marked the beginning of his
"Similarly people talk about me now but they don't
realise that there are equally good tabla players around. I
wouldn't call myself a torchbearer or anything of that sort. I
am just one of those who is able to articulate, may be
slightly better than others," the 61-year-old veteran artiste
"May be, by default I have been chosen who speaks on
music globally. But there are fabulous artistes who deserve
to be doing it here.
"Suddenly I am like the poster boy of music, but I think
the whole idea is to realise how deep is the base of Indian
art and culture, how many fabulous young artistes there are,
how many incredible great senior artistes are present today
but not seen in limelight. We all have our turn at being the
spokesperson for something or the other," the renowned
"There are incredible number of great Indian artists
around like Aditya Kalyanpur, Shubhankar Banerjee, Satyajit
Talwakar, Amaan and Ayan, among women are Anuradha Pal and
others. It is great that such musicians are around. But the
media has not adopted to give them the push or put them in
open. They deserve to be up there," Zakir Hussain stressed.
Despite a career spanning across over almost half a
century, Zakir Hussain likes to call himself just a drummer.
"What celebrity status, I think I am just a drummer.
There are so many talented artists around here," he said.
Zakir Hussain now stays in San Francisco but he keeps visiting
India every year.
"Every winter I am here sometimes for two or four
months. These are my roots, this is where I feel I must come
to grow and learn as an artist. I must always come back to the
guru to learn and grow more as a musician. There is no
question of going anywhere and forgetting where I came from
because that would be like losing my identity," he said.
"The plan is to always have a plug into my past, where I
am from. And how deep that is and having that gave me
confidence to be able to expand. I am confident that I have
something (music) that is backing me and that is always there
for me... so that I can explore more, learn and grow more as
an artiste and as a musician," he said.
Zakir Hussain has associated his label 'Moment Records' with
Times Music to launch a rich collection of music in India.
'Moments Records' is managed by Zakir Hussain and his wife Antonia
Minnecola and it hosts a wide range of internationally
acclaimed artists and albums.
In addition to Zakir Hussain's own classical and fusion
recordings, the catalogue boasts of recordings of music
stalwart like Pt Ravi Shankar, Ustad Alla Rakha, Pt Bhimsen
Joshi, Pt Jasraj, Pt Shivkumar, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, noted
classical singer Girija Devi among others.