Britannica Artist of the Month : Bade Ghulam Ali K

Born around 1902 in Kasoor, now Pakistan, (and died April 25, 1968), Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was one of the main exponents of the Patiala gharana of khayal singing, recognized for his contribution in popularizing the gharana among the public.

Born to a family of hereditary or gharanedar musicians, Ghulam Ali was the son of Ali Baksh of the Kasoor gharana, originally of dhrupad singers. However, when Ali Baksh was appointed court musician in Kashmir, it was his brother Kale Khan (alias Mira Baksh) who taught Ghulam Ali in his father’s absence, till his charge was nearly seventeen years of age. Ghulam Ali was taught both instrumental and vocal music and was therefore an adept sarangi player, although his forte was undoubtedly vocal music. After his uncle Kale Khan’s death, Ghulam Ali is also said to have learnt from Ashiq Ali Khan, son of the legendary Fateh Ali Khan of Patiala.

Inayati Bai, a disciple of Ali Baksh, and Sindhi Khan of the Gwalior gharana are also said to have influenced the music of Ghulam Ali, who shot to fame around the year 1940. His voice that ranged three octaves, his sense of aesthetics, and his versatility that made him equally at ease with khayal, thumri and bhajan, brought him unprecedented popularity with music lovers throughout the country, who also relished his compositions marked by the pseudonym Sabrang. He even sang for some films such as "Baiju Bawra" and "Mughal-e-Azam".

The Partition in 1947 separated Ghulam Ali from his brothers Aman Ali Khan, Mubarak Ali Khan and Barkat Ali Khan, who chose to remain in Pakistan while Ghulam Ali opted for Indian citizenship. The anguish of being parted from his birthplace and loved ones was perhaps mitigated by his dedication to music, expressed in his statement "All my miseries and happiness lay engrossed in my music". His artistry, perseverance and musicianship received formal recognition in 1962, when he was awarded the Padma Bhushan. The Sangeet Natak Akademi also conferred the President’s Award on the singer, who battled ill health in the last years of his life after being struck by a paralytic stroke. The end came on April 25, 1968.

by Britannica Artist of the Month : Bade Ghulam Ali K