Ustad Rashid Khan
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Ustad Rashid Khan Music Maestro Loses Battle to Cancer After a Long Struggle

The Indian music industry has lost one of its most iconic and influential voices with the passing away of legendary classical vocalist Ustad Rashid Khan after a prolonged battle with cancer. The maestro was admitted to a hospital in Kolkata where he breathed his last on January 10th at the age of 66.

Ustad Rashid Khan Early Life and Training

Ustad Rashid Khan was born in 1966 in Badayun, Uttar Pradesh to a family of musicians. He received his initial training from his maternal grand-uncle Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan, a singer known for his command over Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana. Khan gave his first public performance at the age of 11, showcasing immense talent and potential at a young age.

Tutelage Under Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan

In 1978, Rashid Khan began learning music under his uncle and guru Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan, a legendary Indian classical singer. His rigorous ‘taleem’ under Khan lasted over 15 years during which he honed his skills in classical vocals. Rashid Khan had once said that his uncle was very strict during the training but that shaped him into the versatile singer he became.

Prestigious Music Competition Wins

Rashid Khan went on to win multiple prestigious music competitions in India during the 80s and 90s. This included the All India Music Competition in 1984, the Annual Art Festival in 1993, and the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar by Sangeet Natak Akademi in 2006. He also received a national scholarship from the Department of Culture, Government of India.

Performed at Notable Venues Across the World

Ustad Rashid Khan performed classical concerts at some of the most reputed music venues across India and the globe. These included the Swar Utsav in Delhi, the Harvallabh Sangeet Sammelan in Punjab, and the Saptak Festival in Ahmedabad. He also enthralled audiences at global venues like the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Carnegie Hall in New York, and Royal Albert Hall in London.

Collaborations With Renowned Artists

The maestro collaborated extensively with renowned musicians like the late Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, and Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia among others. He was among the leading voices representing the Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana on the world stage.

Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards

Recognizing his immense contribution to Indian classical music,Ustad Rashid Khan was conferred the prestigious Padma Shri Award in 2006 followed by the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2013. He also received honorary doctorates from institutions like Banaras Hindu University.

Composed for Films and Sang Thumris

While mainly focused on classical music, Ustad Rashid Khan also composed music for a few Bollywood films like ‘Meenaxi: A Tale of 3 Cities’. His renditions of semi-classical thumris were hugely popular and displayed his versatility. Khan had composed and sung thumris in films like ‘Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi’.

Performed Across Various Gharanas

Ustad Rashid Khan was primarily trained in the Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana but also showcased equal command over several other gharanas and styles. These included Dhrupad, Dhammar, and Khyal compositions across gharanas like Gwalior, Agra, and Kirana. His openness to blend styles made his performances enthralling.

Alongside a busy performance schedule, the maestro dedicated time to teaching music and grooming the next generation of classical vocalists. Several of his students and disciples have become accomplished singers, owing their success partly to his guidance.

Cancer Diagnosis and Prolonged Treatment

Rashid Khan was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018 and has been battling it since then. Despite the debilitating effects of cancer and treatment, Khan continued to perform and record music as much as his health permitted. But his condition deteriorated in the last few weeks leading to his hospitalization in Kolkata.

State Funeral and Honors for the Maestro

As a mark of respect for the legendary singer, the West Bengal government has announced that Ustad Rashid Khan will be accorded a gun salute and offered a state funeral. His body will be kept at Kolkata’s Rabindra Sadan for people to pay their last respects before the funeral on January 11. Many eminent personalities from the world of arts and culture are expected to attend it.

The tragic demise of Ustad Rashid Khan at the age of just 66 is an immense loss for the music fraternity. But his legacy as one of India’s most influential classical vocalists, who also made Khayal gayaki more popular, will live on through his extensive recordings and students. Khan’s magical voice will continue resounding in the hearts of music lovers. The maestro may have lost his battle with cancer but his renderings will remain eternal.

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