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An exponent of Hindustani classical music, Gangubai Hangal was an eminent singer to have hailed from the Kirana gharana of the Hindustani khyal family. Read this biography to know about him.

Gangubai Hangal

Born On: March 5, 1913
Born In: Dharwad, Karnataka, India
Dead On: July 21, 2009
Occupation: Hindustani classical music singer
Nationality: Indian

Gangubai Hangal's is one of the most famous names in the world of Hindustani classical music. Born to a mother who was an expert of Carnatic music, singing was already in Gangubai Hangal's genes. The voice of Gangubai Hangal is identified by its soulful and powerful qualities. She belonged to the Kirana gharana and practiced the khyal genre of Hindustani classical music beginning from the early 1930s. Though Gangubai Hangal had to leave her school at a very small age, she was highly educated in music, learning from the best teachers of classical music, and even securing the position of the music professor of Karnataka University, courtesy her talent and achievements in the field.

Early Life
Gangubai Hangal was born on March 5, 1913 in the city of Dharwad in the state of Karnataka in India. Her father, Chikkurao Nadiger, was an agriculturist by profession, while her mother Ambabai was a singer of Carnatic music. Gangubai Hangal left her studies very early, completing only the initial years of school. The family shifted base to the city of Hubli in the year 1928 after Gangubai Hangal's elementary years in school were over, and it was here that she seriously started taking lessons on Hindustani classical music. Hangal was only 13 years old when she undertook her first formal lesson in Hindustani classical music at Krishna Acharya's music academy. Dattopant Desai was one of her teachers after she came to Hubli but it was Sawai Gandharva that Gangubai Hangal truly followed as her guru in the field of Hindustani classical music. However, since he did not live in Hubli at the time when Hangal family shifted there, her training under Sawai Gandharva was only periodic, at times when he would visit his home in Hubli.

A few years later, Sawai Gandharva also relocated to the city of Hubli, after which Gangubai Hangal undertook a training program of three years with her guru. Reports claim that Gangubai Hangal's childhood was not a very pleasant and conventional one. Their's being a courtesan family, she was often ridiculed by the other children in her society. It was this same feeling which persisted among many when she grew up and chose singing as her profession.

Three years after her relocation to Hubli, Gangubai Hangal got married to a Brahmin lawyer living in Hubli, Gururao Kaulgi. Her early marriage was the result of living in a society where child marriages were not only common, but the norm of the day. Marriage, however, did not mark the end of the road of Hindustani classical music for Gangubai Hangal continued to practice and went on to achieve awards and recognition in the field of Hindustani classical music.

Career In Music
Living in small cities of Karnataka had its ill effect on Gangubai Hangal. The society at that time was essentially male dominated, where women were not even allowed or did not have the right to do what their hearts desired, leave alone pursuing their interests. While Gangubai Hangal wanted to be a singer, the society presented her with a number of barriers, preventing her from taking up singing as a career. However, Gangubai Hangal was not to be subdued by the pressure around her, and as such, fought back hard to establish herself as a singer of Hindustani classical music. Up to the year 1945, Gangubai Hangal performed in front of the public to khyal, bhajans and thumris in several cities across India. Her voice was also a regular on the radio network All India Radio. Gangubai Hangal always made it a point to sing in several festivals all around India in which she was usually invited, especially the Ganeshutaavas celebrations in Mumbai. After giving several performances, Gangubai Hangal gradually shifted her preferences to ragas. After 1945, she insisted on performing only ragas. Gangubai Hangal continued to make public appearances even after she was appointed an honorary professor of music at the University of Karnataka. It was only three years prior to her death that Gangubai Hangal completely gave up singing as a profession.

Personal Life
Gangubai Hangal was married at the age of sixteen in the year 1929. She and her lawyer husband Gururao Kaulgi were blessed with two sons and a daughter. Her husband died four years after their marriage, leaving her in a state of shock at the age of 20. Gangubai Hangal had to sell her jewelry and other household articles to raise money for the upbringing of her kids. Her daughter, Krishna died as a victim to cancer in the year 2004. Gangubai Hangal herself was a patient of bone marrow cancer, for which she underwent treatment and successfully overcame the disease in the year 2003.

Awards & Recognition
The Karnataka State Government and the Government of India bestowed on Gangubai Hangal a number of awards over the length of her career to recognize her contribution and her achievements in Hindustani classical music. The names of the awards are listed below:
Gangubai Hangal succumbed to a serious heart attack on July 21, 2009. She was 96 years of age then and was ailing for quite some time. She died in her home in the Hubli city of Karnataka. July 22nd and 23rd were declared days of mourning in Karnataka by the state government. To celebrate all her achievements and to respect the talent that Gangubai Hangal was, a state funeral was organized in Hubli on July 22 by the district commissioner of Dharwad. Gangubai Hangal never forgot her duties towards the society that she lived in and the people who played a major role in her success story. She had donated her eyes prior her death in a step to educate the society on the importance of organ donation.

Timeline 1913: Gangubai Hangal was born on March 5.
1926: Took her first formal lesson in Hindistani classical music at Krishna Acharya's music academy
1928: The Hangal family shifted base from Dharwad to Hubli.
1929: Gangubai Hangal got married to Gururao Kaulgi.
1933: Her husband died after four years of marriage.
1945: Gave up singing to khyal, bhajans and thumris and started singing only ragas.
1962: Received the Karnataka Sangeet Nritya Academy Award.
1971: Was bestowed upon with the Padma Bhushan from the Indian government.
1973: Received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award
1996: Won the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship.
1997: Was awarded the Dinanath Pratishthan.
1998: Received the Manik Ratan.
2002: Received the Padma Vibhushan.
2006: Last performance in public.
2009: Died of cardiac arrest on July 21.