Google is known for commemorating important dates with Google Doodles, which show up on the search engine’s page. Almost every important day has a Google Doodle, and it also features the birthdays of prominent people from across history and culture. Today, on 26 June, Google is celebrating the 145th birth anniversary of Gauhar Jaan, bringing recognition to the legendary Indian singer and dancer.
Born in 1873 in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Gauhar Jaan was a talented singer and Kathak dancer. At a time when more established male singers refused to record their voices for the fear of technology, she accepted the offer to make a recording at a makeshift studio in Kolkata, which were then turned into records in Germany and sent to India. Gauhar Jaan became the first Indian to record music on a 78 rpm record, becoming India’s first recording artist. However, this wasn’t her only accomplishment. She is known to have recorded over 600 records in more than 10 languages. Her records helped in popularizing the gramophone in India as before there were only records of Western music which the masses didn’t have interest in. And by the beginning of the twentieth century, her records were popular across India.
Gauhar Jaan is one of the most important women in the entertainment history of India, and her story has not been forgotten. Her biography has been written down in a book by Vikram Sampath, and her life has also been told on stage through a critically acclaimed play directed by Lillete Dubey, which is staged to this day.