ZUHEB AHMED KHAN , born on 2nd March 1993, belongs to the famous Ajrara Gharana. He is the son of USTAD NAUSHAD AHMED KHAN . Zuheb took his Training from his Maternal Uncle and well known Tabla player USTAD AKRAM KHAN and Grand father USTAD HASHMAT ALI KHAN .Zuheb is appreciated both in the field of percussion and music throughout the world as an international phenomenon. A classical tabla virtuoso of the highest order, his consistently brilliant and exciting performances have not only established him as a national treasure in his own country but also abroad. His playing is marked by his uncanny intuition and masterful improvisational dexterity. Founded in formidable knowledge and study, he has not let his genius rest there.
Localturnon sets up a rendezvous to get close to this awesomely talented Tabla Player from Delhi. He is after all our Artist (Tabla) of the Week
#Localturnon: What is the history to your taking up Music and your journey in brief?
Zuheb Ahmed Khan: I started learning when I was only 3 years old. I was born into a Family where Music was the centre-piece. I suppose when that happens you are bound to be wrapped into it. Yes, I did have an inclination for machines but it was my Mother’s choice that I should also follow into Music and as it happens her guidance and blessings has seen me come this far. I now enjoy being in this space.
My first stage performance was at the tender age of five at the Russian embassy with my father. Over the years I have performed in various prestigious festivals all over in India like Harballabh Sangeet Sabha in Jalander, kashi Baithak in Delhi, Darpan music festival, ITC SANGEET SAMELLAN IN KOLKATTA, NCPA Mumbai, Tansen Samaroh gwalior,Taj mahotsav Agra, Akashvani Sangeet Sammellan, Raag Rang festival,Youth Festival, Bhaskar Rao Samaroh Chandigarh, SA MA PA Sangeet Sammellan, ASK Project in South korea, American embassy, Australian embassy to name a few. I was blessed to have been Awarded the Gold Medal at the tender age of 14 by the great Sarod Maestro SH. SHARAN RANI. (smiling)
#Localturnon: So who are your favourites/ Icons/ Role Models in the field of music?
Zuheb Ahmed Khan: Well… I have been fortunate to have played with some of the great artists and thus all those with whom I have been associated are in some ways my favourite, but to pick one …. (thinking)… I can say that of all the artists my most favourite would be Ustad Zakir Hussain
#Localturnon: How do rejuvenate your creative insights / get the Adrenalin going
Zuheb Ahmed Khan: For an Artist the best source of creativity is Music itself for an artist thrives in his or her environment. When it comes to my preference, I listen to recordings everyday and somehow it always makes me think as to how I can refine my music. I believe that any musical output from any artist needs to connect with the Audience and my endeavor has always been of how it can be more engaging with the audiences. If we go back to the 90s and 80s it had a different style but now-a-days music is more enriched .. but whatever era we live in I always believe that we artists should try and work on how to involve the audiences in our performances
#Localturnon: Does your Music carry a message / a theme or a story? If so, can you share more?
Zuheb Ahmed Khan: Music is a universal language and ideally connects with everyone. Yes what message it leaves with a person who hears it can vary from individual to an individual. My moto has always been that my music should help inspire the listener. Lets say that there is an audience of about 100 people who come to watch and enjoy our performance. Then our message through our music should be to inspire them. I am not saying that we will be 100% effective in doing so but even if we can reach 1 or 2 folks in the true “inspirational” sense I will be glad that my music has delivered. That is the message.
#Localturnon: Of all the performances you’ve given, which is your favourite one and why?
Zuheb Ahmed Khan: I have been fortunate to have performed with many legendary artists like Sitar Maestro USTAD NISHAT KHAN, PANDIT SHUBENDRO RAO, Violin Maestro ANUPRIYA DEOTALE, Pandit RAJENDRA PRASANNA USTAAD AHMED MOHAMMAD HUSSAIN,FAMOUS MEXICAN PIANIST MARCELA HERSH and many more artists in India and Abroad.
All of these performances hold some special memory and a place in my heart. But to single out one performance it would be from 2006, where I was playing with my grandfather Ustad Hashmat Ali Khan and uncle Ustad Akram Khan . It also stands out as it was my first stage performance with them and even more so that after the performance the great Sarod Maestro Shri. Sharan Rani Ji announced a gold medal!
#Localturnon: Do you have any interesting fan stories to tell?
Zuheb Ahmed Khan:Oh yes…there is this interesting incidence that happened with me when I was playing in the city of Kohlapur with my grandfather Ustad Hashmat Ali khan . The event was one of the biggest festival to be held in kohlapur and it happened that in between one of my performances a very old lady walked upto to the stage, took my mic and announced that the next Zakir Hussain is already here. At that time my nana told me not to disclose this to anyone but this is the very first time I am sharing this incident with you. I feel very blessed and fortunate to have received such love and adulation from the audience.
#Localturnon: Of all the music you’ve created, which is your favourite and why?
Zuheb Ahmed Khan:Music has been there for generations and it is ever evolving, ever growing. I personally feel that we have had such rich legacy with us and so fortunate to have such prominent Artists who have given so much through their creations and works that we may not even come close to what our legends have done. Yes, we may experiment and come up with variations but in the true sense of creation I am not sure if there is anything that I can claim to have created that can surpass or go beyond of what our legends have given us.
#Localturnon: Can you share about some funny incident that happened on-stage / during performance / with you or the other artists / stage members ?
Zuheb Ahmed Khan:I am reminded of one episode that happened with me when I was playing in Chandigarh. It was my series of concert with spicmacay. There was a mic stand problem during the performance as the stand broke. The Principal of that school actually came onto the stage and held my mic during the whole concert. I could see the people smiling and it did bring a smile to my face as well but what was really touching about the gesture was that it showed how fond of music the Principal was. Thats why I term it as a memorable moment for me.
#Localturnon: How has the musical journey been so far for you and what are you looking forward to ?
Zuheb Ahmed Khan: Honestly, the journey of music has just started for me as there is a long way to go.. but yes I only want to keep taking forward the legacy that I have inherited and that too with respect and hard work
#Localturnon: Do you have any words of advice for youngsters who are thinking of getting into this line?
Zuheb Ahmed Khan:My only advice would be that you need to identify with your roots and your traditions and especially when going abroad. You will be surprised but I can say from experience that foreigners are very meticulous when it comes to classical music learning and they have a very keen sense for our music. Infact, they are more keen to learn classical music than us. Most of our folks today have this bent towards Bollywood. I am not saying its bad or anything but yes even if you are still learning music you must ensure that you develop this quality of being a good listener.
As we at Localturnon say “Turn On Music || Turn on Happiness || Turn on Life!”