gangubai-hangal

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Gangubai Hangal (5 March 1913 – 21 July 2009) was an Indian singer of the khyal genre of Hindustani classical music, who was known for her deep and powerful voice. Hangal belonged to the Kirana gharana.

Gangubai Hangal was born in Dharwad to Chikkurao Nadiger, an agriculturist and Ambabai, a vocalist of Carnatic music. Hangal received only elementary education and her family shifted to Hubli in 1928 so that Gangubai could study Hindustani music. She began to train formally aged 13 with Krishnacharya Hulgur, a kinnari (stringed instrument like a veena)player, studying Hindustani classical music. From Hulgur, Gangubai learned sixty compositions in one year before he stopped teaching her after an argument about his fees. She also learned from Dattopant Desai before studying under Sawai Gandharva, a respected guru. Hangal could only study sporadically under Gandharva when he returned to his home, but she received an intensive training of three years after he relocated permanently to Hubli.

Hangal’s mother’s family was considered to be of low social status and for women of her generation singing was not considered appropriate employment; Hangal struggled against this prejudice and made a career. She performed all over India and for All India Radio stations until 1945. Hangal had initially performed light classical genres, including bhajan and thumri, but concentrated on khyal. Later, however, she refused to sing light classical, saying she sang only ragas. Hangal served as honorary music professor of the Karnatak University. She gave her last concert in March 2006 to mark her 75th career year. She had overcome bone marrow cancer in 2003, and died of cardiac arrest at the age of 96, on 21 July 2009, in Hubli, where she resided. She had her eyes donated to increase awareness for organ donation.

Hangal married at age 16 to Gururao Kaulgi, a Brahmin lawyer. They had two sons, Narayan Rao and Babu Rao, and one daughter, Krishna, who died from cancer in 2004, aged 75.

The Karnataka state government declared two days of mourning for Hangal. A state funeral was announced for 22 July in Hubli by the district commissioner of the Dharwad district.

In 2008, The State Government of Karnataka decided to name the proposed Karnataka State Music University after Gangubhai Hangal. Subsequently Karnataka State Dr Gangubai Hangal Music and Performing Arts University Act, 2009 has been passed by the State Legislature. Presently the Karnataka State Gangubhai Hangal Music and Performing Arts University operates from Mysore, Karnataka.