78 rpm Records of Indian Music: Miss Gohar of Bijapur (Gauhar Karnataki)

Miss Gohar of Bijapur sings two Marathi devotional songs. Her voice is terrific, her delivery heartfelt, her intonation spot-on, her melismatic technique top-notch. What’s not to like?

Wikipedia notes that:

There were four singing contemporaries of Gauhar Jaan with first names pronounced the same way as hers and sometimes spelled in English in different ways:

– Gauhar Jan of Patiala;

– Miss Gohar, who was associated with Parsi Theatrical Company in Bombay (Mumbai);

– Gohar Mamajiwala, a singer actress who was associated with and mistress of Sardar Chandulal Shah of Ranjit Films (studio), Bombay; and

– Gohar Bai Karnataki of Bijapur.

I believe we are listening to the last-listed of these luminaries.

She was a fairly prominent name in Hindi Films in the ’30s, acting, composing and singing songs, most/all of which were never released on 78s and are probably lost for ever. Her sister
Amirbai’s name is far more famous and many brilliant songs sung by Amirbai are easily available today. Before her most prolific years in the ’40s, Amirbai sometimes sang under the name ‘Amir Jan’. Gauharbai’s name appears as ‘Gauhar of Bijapur’ in the Hindi Film Geet Kosh pages. Gauhar was devoted to Bal Gandharva; BG left his family to live with her. There were whispers around 1950 that Gauhar, whom BG used to call ‘Baba’, had cast an evil spell on Narayanrao Bal Gandharva, whose surname was ‘Rajhans’. The Gauhar
episode in BG’s life has been treated at some length in Ravindra Pinge’s beautiful article on BG, titled ‘Chandraast’ and included in the book ‘TuShaar aaNi Taare’. Whatever manipulations she may have resorted to, even her detractors concede that her devotion to Bal Gandharva’s style of singing was genuine. It is not surprising that many of her 78s are of Marathi songs sung in BG’s style.


Afaghaachi sansaar

Satata vimal bhaj nama

78 rpm Records of Indian Music: G.N. Joshi

G.N. Joshi was both a singer and the main A&R man for HMV India; “Down Melody Lane,” his reminiscences of a life in music, is an excellent read.

Here are two of the Marathi geets he recorded at the beginning of his career.

His voice production is easy and clear, and he handles the melismatic passages with aplomb.

The next item is based on the popular afternoon raga Patdeep, and includes some lovely improvisation; it is a khyal performance in all but name. Joshi’s melodic imagination is captivating; the piece ends with some excellent taankari.