Google marked the 145th birth anniversary of classical vocalist Gauhar Jaan with a doodle for its Indian visitors to the website. Gauhar Jaan was one of the first performers to record music on 78 rpm records in India.
Born in 1873 as Angelina Yeoward to an Armenian father and an India-born British mother, Jaan was the first South Asian singer whose songs were recorded by the Gramophone Company of India.
Her career began in 1900. She sang bhajans and thumris – styles of Hindustani classical music – in 20 languages, and went on to record 600 songs until her death in 1930. In July 1907, Gauhar Jaan gave a rare performance of classical music for an elite audience in the Asiatic Library’s Town Hall in Mumbai. She sang a nazm – a form of Urdu poetry – that she had someone specially compose for the occasion. In the nazm of eight stanzas, she talked about how important Mumbai was to her life and expressed gratitude towards the city’s patrons, such as those who were in the audience.
“The fame and wealth that Gauhar Jaan got despite being a woman in a patriarchal society was, then and till now, exemplary,” said BBC Hindi after a play about her life was staged in London in 2016.
Author Vikram Sampath, in his book My Name is Gauhar Jaan, described her life as “one of the earliest women artists who seized opportunity that came with the advent of recording technology”.
The Google doodle was designed by Aditi Damle.