(b Tokyo, Feb 22, 1884; d Tokyo, May 26, 1946). Japanese soprano . She made her début in 1914 singing Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana at Tokyo, and in the same year went to Europe. She studied in Germany, sang in concerts in London and elsewhere, and in 1915 was engaged to sing Butterfly in Boston. ‘Fresher, more graceful in its joy and pathos than any other’ (Q. Eaton: The Boston Opera Company, 1965, p.275), this ‘authentic’ portrayal brought her immediate fame in the USA, with Mascagni’s Iris as her best alternative role. She sang in New York, San Francisco and Chicago, returning to England for performances of Madama Butterfly under Beecham, and in 1920 appeared at Monte Carlo and in Barcelona. Other operas in her repertory were Messager’s Madame Chrysanthème and Aldo Franchetti’s Namiko-San, both of which she sang at their American premières in Chicago. She took part in various tours and also sang in Italy before returning finally to Japan in ...
(b Manchuria, China, May 13, 1933). Japanese singer. One of the few pioneers of jazz singing in Japan, she graduated from the Nippon Music School in Tokyo and started singing at US military bases in 1953. In 1955 she joined the Gay Septet, led by the clarinetist Raymond Conde; Conde, a Filipino, led one of the most popular Japanese bands of the era. In 1973 she opened her own school in Tokyo, the Martha Miyake Vocal House. She toured widely, was frequently heard on television and radio, and performed and recorded with Teddy Wilson, Red Mitchell, Hank Jones, Lou Levy, and Conte Candoli, among others. Miyake celebrated her 45th anniversary as a professional jazz singer with a recital in 1998.
[Mathur, Mukesh Chandra ]
(b Delhi, July 22, 1923; d Detroit, Aug 27, 1976). Indian film actor, playback singer and recording artist . Mukesh’s singing career began in 1940 when a respected actor and distant relative, Motilal, brought him to Bombay after hearing him sing at his sister’s wedding in Delhi. Motilal initially supported Mukesh, providing accommodation in his house and arranging vocal training. Mukesh’s first film role was as the hero in National Studios' Hindi movie Nirdosh (1941), in which he sang his first film song as an actor-singer, ‘Dil hi bujha hua’. Despite the film’s box-office failure he spent two more years working as an actor-singer for Ranjit Movietone. In 1945 he sang his first playback song, ‘Badariya baras gai us par’, for Ranjit’s film Murti, and in the same year he recorded the song ‘Dil jalta hai to jalne de’ by the music director Anil Biswas for Paheli nazar...
(b Bursa, Dec 6, 1933; d Sept 24, 1996). Turkish composer, singer and film star . After completing his higher education at the Boğaziçi lycée, he took classes from Serif İçli and Refik Fersan and enrolled at the Fine Arts Academy in Istanbul. He first came to public attention through his radio concerts in the early 1950s as an interpreter of contemporary Turkish art music, although his repertory also covered Turkish versions of tango, chanson and the work of Arab singers such as Umm Kulthum and Farīd al Aṭrash (notably his version of the latter’s Zennübe). His voice, with its dramatic expressive qualities, was initially likened to that of Müzeyyen Senar, but the clarity and somewhat elevated nature of his sung Turkish marked a distinct and exceptional vocal style, which was one of the first in Turkey to make full use of the expressive potential of the microphone. In recognition of these qualities Müren was quickly nicknamed Sanat Güneşi (‘Sun of Art’), a title he bore until his death. His career was marked by his appearance in some 18 musical films, from ...
(b Baku, USSR [now Azerbaijan], Dec 19, 1969). Azerbaijani pianist and singer, daughter of Vagif Mustafa-Zade. In the 1960s and 1970s both her father and her mother, the singer Eliza Khanom, strove for a synthesis of jazz and mugam, the improvised modal music of Azerbaijan. After studying classical piano at the conservatory in Baku, she moved to Germany in 1991 and began to record as a leader; among her sidemen have been Chick Corea, John Patitucci, Dave Weckl, Al Di Meola, Stanley Clarke, Omar Hakim, Bill Evans (iii), Toot Thielemans, and Philip Catherine. Her performances typically involve a dramatic blend of jazz, mugam, and avant-garde and classical music.
(all recorded for Columbia)CarrJ “Aziza Mustafa Zadeh,” JP, 40/6 (1991), 3 W. Minor: “Aziza Mustafa Zadeh: an Unzipped Soul,” JF...
(b Husn, near Irbid, 1922). Jordanian traditional composer and singer. After the sudden death of his father he was brought up by his grandfather, a poet-singer and rabāba player who regularly took his grandson to church to pray; there al-Nimrī began to learn religious chants. At an early age he sang at wedding celebrations, and subsequently developed his interest in music by studying the ‘ūd with Alfred Samāwī in Husn. After the establishment of the broadcasting station in Jerusalem in 1936, al-Nimrī performed many of his songs for broadcasts. Like most Jordanian musicians of his time, he had a trade other than music; he worked as a watch-repairer while pursuing his interest in singing and composition. He studied music theory in Jerusalem with Yūsuf Baṭrūnī. He also took lessons with Muḥammad Maḥfūẓ in Damascus. In 1949 he joined the Ramallah broadcasting service; in 1959 he was appointed director of the music section of the newly established radio station in Amman and in ...
(b Caucasus region or Constantinople, 1918; d Athens, 1957). Female rebetiko singer of Armenian origin. She grew up in the refugee neighbourhood of Kokkinia, in Piraeus. As a child, she used to sing at the Armenian church and learned to play the mandolin. She started her artistic career with the ‘Dyomisi Nino’ (‘Two-and-a-half Nino’) acrobatic troupe, formed together with her husband and son, although her dream was to become a singer in the urban popular music scene. Soon, she collaborated with Stellakis Perpiniadis and Manolis Chiotis, among others, and recorded her first song in 1948. However, Marika became successful as the singer of Vasilis Tsitsanis’s songs. They performed together for several years at the ‘Tzimi tou Hontrou’ venue. Her voice became popular through his compositions, such as ‘Ximeronei kai Vradyazei’, ‘Ti Simera, Ti Avrio, Ti Tora’, ‘Apopse Kaneis Bam’, and ‘Zaïra’. After performing at a concert in Istanbul, the duet split and Marika travelled to New York, where she sang for the Greek diaspora at ‘Vyzantio’ having signed a contract with the Liberty record company. Back in Athens, she recorded ‘Agapi Pou ‘Gines Dikopo Machairi’ for the film ...
Megan E. Hill
(b Osaka, Japan, 1957). Jazz and blues pianist, singer, and composer of Japanese birth. She took piano lessons briefly as a child and was exposed to the blues while growing up in Osaka in the 1960s and 1970s. As a high school student, she formed the Yoko Blues Band with classmates. The band earned some success, winning first prize and a recording contract in a television-sponsored contest. In 1984 she moved to the United States to pursue a jazz and blues career in Chicago. Initially a singer, she studied piano with boogie, blues, and jazz pianist Erwin Helfer. In the early 1990s Noge established the Jazz Me Blues Band, which has played regularly in Chicago since its formation. In addition to Noge on piano and vocals, the ensemble has included Noge’s husband, Clark Dean, on soprano saxophone, saxophonist Jimmy Ellis, trombonist Bill McFarland, and bassist Tatsu Aoki. In addition to playing more conventional jazz and blues, Noge has made a name for herself through the unique compositions she has written for the group, which meld Japanese folk music styles with Chicago blues. Active in the broader Asian American community, she cofounded the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival in ...
Katherine K. Preston
(b Farmington, ME, May 12, 1857; d Batavia, Java [now Jakarta, Indonesia], May 10, 1914). American soprano. She studied with John O'Neill at the New England Conservatory, graduating in 1876. Engaged by Patrick Gilmore, she made her concert début with his band (September 1876), then toured America – and, in 1878, Europe – with the ensemble; her London début was at the Crystal Palace (21 May 1878). She left Gilmore to study with Sangiovanni in Milan; he coined her stage name and arranged for her operatic débuts – as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (Teatro Manzoni, Milan, March 1879) and as Violetta (Teatro Guillaume, Brescia, April 1879). She sang in St Petersburg (1880–82) and continued summertime studies in Paris with Giovanni Sbriglia; she also studied Marguerite (Faust) and Ophelia (Hamlet) with Gounod and Thomas, making her Paris Opéra début in the former role (...
(b 1931, Dundgov' (Middle Gobi), central Mongolia). Mongolian urtyn duu (long-song) singer of the Borjigin Khalkhas. She learnt to sing from her ‘second mother’, the renowned singer Tavhai, who acted as midwife at her birth. Initially she performed giingoo, the ritual song performed by child jockeys before horse-racing, and her talent soon became evident. She then became a member of the cultural ‘club’ at the centre of her district. She won a gold medal at the International Youth and Students Festival held in Moscow in 1957 and in the same year became a member of the National Ensemble of Folksong and Dance (Ulsyn Ardyn Duu Büjgiin Chuulga) in Ulaanbaatar, where she remained for over 30 years. Norovbanzad delivers long-songs in a wonderfully powerful soaring voice. In addition to Central Khalkha, which became the ‘national’ theatre style during the communist period, she is able to perform in the grand ...
(b Berlin, Feb 21, 1925; d Tokyo, September 2, 2003). Japanese singer. The first Japanese jazz singer after World War II, he rose to popularity after joining the Blue Coats orchestra in 1949. He also acted and sang in films and the musical theater. In 1962 he performed with Chico Hamilton, and in ...
(b Arbat region, Moscow, 1924; d Paris, 1997). Russian poet, writer and singer of Georgian origin. Okudzhava was the founder of a new popular genre known as gitarnïye pesni (‘guitar songs’) or avtorskiye pesni (‘author's songs’, songs composed by singer-songwriters) which became a new ‘folk’ tradition. Before perestroika these songs were published on cassettes by the underground magnitizdat or samizdat press and were widely sung by young people as an expression of opposition to authoritarianism. Okudzhava was one of a group of singer-songwriters or ‘bards’ (bardy) which also included Aleksandr Galich (1918–77) and Vladimir Visotsky (1938–80); they acknowledged Aleksandr Vertinsky (1889–1957) as the father of the new genre. At the beginning of the 21st century this genre continues to flourish, notably through the work of Zhanna Bichevskaya; her arrangements of village and urban Russian songs sound like American country music and have become a musical symbol of ideological opposition to official Soviet culture....
Scheherazade Qassim Hassan
(b Baghdad, 1918; d Baghdad, 1986). Iraqi traditional singer . He was one of the greatest performers of the Iraqi maqām and the only professional singer in the 20th century to master the totality of its large repertory. He attended a Qur’anic school, then an elementary public school. He was brought up with a passion for the Iraqi maqām and took Mohammed al-Gubantchi as his model and master, following his performances and learning by observing him. Omar’s musical tendency was naturally more conservative than his master’s, and that led him to become a more traditional performer. In 1948 Omar joined the Baghdad radio station to present two concerts each month; this was the beginning of a lifelong and regular collaboration with the local media (both radio and television), and he remained the principal representative of traditional music until the end of his life. He presented almost all the maqām...
David W. Bernstein
revised by Wendy F. Hsu
(b Tokyo, Japan, Feb 18, 1933). American performance artist, composer, singer, and songwriter of Japanese birth. Ono was born into a wealthy banking family and raised in Tokyo. In 1953, she moved to New York to attend Sarah Lawrence College where she studied music and philosophy. Ono married Toshi Ichiyanagi in 1956. In the early 1960s the couple’s Manhattan apartment became the site of many performance events; several of the artists who performed there later became associated with Fluxus. Dubbed “the high priestess of the happening,” Ono was a pioneer in the conceptual art movement. She once claimed that “the only sound that exists … is the sound of the mind.” Her conceptual scores, described by George Maciunas as “Neo-Haiku Theater,” often consist of only brief instructions. Earth Piece (1963), for example, instructs the performer to “listen to the sound of the earth turning.” A specialist in extended vocal techniques, Ono performed self-composed pieces that featured her virtuosic vocal exploration of screams, sighs, moans, gasps, and multi-phonics....
Bonnie C. Wade and Inderjit N. Kaur
(b Kurundwad, 1872; d 1931). North Indian (Hindustani) classical music vocalist. He was the son of a kīrtankār (performer of religious discourses) in Kurundwad and was educated in an English-medium school. In 1887 his eyesight was damaged by firecrackers and he was removed from school to begin musical training with Balkrishna Buwa of the Gwalior gharānā. He became sensitized to the difference between his social status and that of his teacher and was determined to improve the status of musicians.
In 1897 Paluskar advocated public performance in order to make classical music widely accessible and to provide a means for musicians to earn a livelihood independent of rich patrons. In 1901 he founded the Gandharva Mahāvidyālaya in Lahore, the first Indian music institution underwritten by public sources. To support it Paluskar lectured and gave concerts, tailoring performances to include patriotic songs, folksongs, and devotional compositions, along with classical vocal music. As part of his educational endeavors he wrote ...
Amir Hassanpour and Stephen Blum
(b Sori, Urfa province, Turkey, Dec 23, 1955). Kurdish singer and composer. He was born into a poor peasant family and struggled to attend school in a nearby village; he began singing while in primary school. While Kurdish music was banned in Turkey, he learnt many songs by listening to Kurdish radio broadcasts from Armenia, Iraq and Iran, and his music contributed to the upsurge of nationalist and leftist cultural and political movements in the 1970s. Facing persecution for his singing, he took refuge in Germany in 1976 and resettled in Sweden, continuing to perform and compose songs in the steadily growing Kurdish diaspora. He is well known for his political songs, which emphasize the struggle of workers and peasants and the national liberation movements of the Kurds. His recordings included four tapes and two records before his exile and 25 cassettes by 1991, totalling about 500 pieces by the late 1990s. He usually accompanies his songs on the ...
(b Kiriat Haim, Dec 25, 1950). Israeli singer, composer, guitarist and bouzouki player. During the 1970s he played in various rock bands which performed mainly at weddings. One of these bands became known as Benzeen in the early 1980s, when Poliker established what was to become a fruitful and long-lasting creative partnership with the lyricist and critic Yaakov Gilad. Benzeen became highly successful with its hard rock sound, but disbanded in 1984 after the release of its second album. In 1985 Poliker made two albums of rock-oriented interpretations of Greek songs, with Hebrew lyrics by Gilad; these recordings widened Poliker’s popularity beyond the young audiences of rock and marked his shift towards a sound based on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern elements. In 1988 he recorded Ashes and Dust, in which he and Gilad explored their experiences of growing up in Israel in the 1960s as sons of survivors of the Holocaust, and this album is widely considered Poliker’s masterpiece. His later albums, two of which are purely instrumental, include virtuoso performances on guitar and ...
revised by Art Menius
(b Maywood, IL, Oct 10, 1946). Americana, folk, and country singer and songwriter. His first album, John Prine (1971), included the enduring “Sam Stone,” about the plight of Vietnam veterans, and “Hello in There,” which dealt with the insensitive treatment of elderly people. The recording brought him critical acclaim and an enthusiastic cult following but little mainstream success, a pattern that has continued since. Starting with 1975’s Common Sense, he has explored country, rock, and rockabilly as platforms for his prolific compositions and often surprising covers. Prine’s lyrics mix the topical with the surreal, often portraying ordinary people attempting to deal with extraordinary times in absurd, humorous, or painfully sad ways. His songs have been recorded by performers as diverse as Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Norah Jones, Jim & Jesse, and Bette Midler. A 2010 album featured popular young artists such as the Avett Brothers covering Prine compositions....
(b Bombay [Mumbai], India, c1947). Indian singer and actress. From an affluent family, Puthli attended college in Mumbai. After studying Indian classical music and dance and Western opera as a youth, she began singing jazz and pop with local bands at age 13 and made her first recording in 1968. She met author Ved Mehta, who wrote about her in Portrait of India (New York, 1970). She appeared in two films by Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, The Guru (1969) and Savages (1972). A dance scholarship from the Martha Graham Company brought her in that same year to New York, where Mehta introduced her to CBS executive John Hammond. In 1972 she recorded two critically acclaimed tracks for Ornette Coleman’s Science Fiction album. She recorded two pop and two disco albums of her own for CBS (1973–6) and a disco album for the TK label in ...
Abdul-Wahab Madadi and John Baily
(b Kabul, 1882; d Kabul, 1955). Afghan singer and composer. He was the son of Ustād Sattarju, a professional sitār player from Kashmir who had been brought to Afghanistan as a court musician during the reign of Abdur Rahmān Khān (1880–1901). Qāsem was the student of Ustād Qurbān Ali and Ustād Piāra Khān. He was the principal court singer during the reign of the progressive King Amanullāh Khān (1919–29) and became his close personal friend. Ustād Qāsem is often described as ‘the father of Afghan music’ because of his pivotal role as originator of a new kind of Afghan music, the Kabuli ghazal style which has remained the predominant form of Afghan vocal art music to the present day. He created this style by setting Persian and Pashto texts to music from North India. He also performed Afghan folksongs in a style that owed much to Hindustani music. He visited Delhi several times to make 78 r.p.m. records, many of which have survived and been reissued in compact disc format....