Sureshbabu Mane

This recording of the Bhairavi thumri “Baju band khul khul jaa” is really exquisite. Sureshbabu’s vocal quality is very much like that of his father Abdul Karim Khan, but there is a relaxed sweetness that is unique.

Sureshbabu Mane (1902 – 1953) was a prominent Hindustāni classical music singer of Kirānā Gharānā in India.

Sureshbabu was born as Abdul Rehmān to Kirana Gharana master Ustād Abdul Karim Khān and Tārābāi Māne. Tarabai was the daughter of Sardār Māruti Rāo Māne, a brother of princely Barodā state’s “Rajmātā” during the middle of the 19th century. Abdul Karim Khan was the court musician in Baroda when Tarabai was young, and he taught her music. The two fell in love and decided to get married; but Tarabai’s parents disapproved of the alliance, and the couple had to leave the state (along with Abdul Karim’s brother, Ustād Abdul Haq Khān). The couple moved to Bombay (Mumbai), and had two sons: Suresh or Abdul Rehmān, and Krishnā; and three daughters: Champākali, Gulāb, and Sakinā or Chhotutāi. In their adult lives, the five respectively became known as Sureshbābu Māne, Krishnarāo Māne, Hirābāi Badodekar, Kamalābāi Badodekar, and Sarswatibāi Rāne.


His pronunciation is very soft, a characteristic of many Kirana style singers who embodied the notion that clear articulation of the words detracted from qualities of intonation. This is a highly vowel-oriented style!

Sureshbabu was an avocational alchemist, a tragic hobby that may have contributed to his early death through exposure to toxic chemicals. It’s trite but accurate to remark that his real alchemy was in the realm of musical expression; I have rarely heard such a haunting version of this thumri.

I used to visit Hirabai Barodekar’s house in Pune fairly often when I was living there. She was a very old lady at the time; I sang for her once just after I’d arrived and she was kind and polite in her responses. Her grandson Nishikant Barodekar was on his way to becoming a very well-regarded tabliya.

In Memoriam: Gangubai Hangal, 1913 – 2009

A tiny woman with a preternaturally deep voice, Gangubai Hangal achieved national fame in India as one of the greatest singers of the ornate improvisational artsong called khyal (“imagination” in Arabic). She died on Tuesday, July 21st, 2009, at a hospital near her home in Hubli, Karnataka State, India. She was ninety-seven years old and had given her last public concert two years before.

She overcame the dual barriers of caste and gender to become a nationally revered and respected artist. Her life was marked by rejection and sorrow, but her extraordinary voice and powerfully emotional singing brought her acclaim and international recognition.

Her story spans almost a century; her life as a professional performer lasted at least seventy-five years. Keep reading, and find out about Gandhari “Gangubai” Hangal, a woman who triumphed over tragedy to become one of the century’s greatest voices.

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