“If the male synonym for Tabla is Zakir Hussain, then the female equivalent has to undeniably be Anuradha Pal.” – Hindustan Times, 2011
“Anuradha Pal is many legends in one. She is a mind-blowing soloist like no other & an accompanist with the sensibilities of a seasoned musician, despite her young years.” – New Indian Express, 2013
‘One of India’s leading and most innovative Percussionists’, ‘Rhythm Queen’ and ‘Tabla phenomenon’ Anuradha Pal is the First Professional Female Tabla virtuoso in the world, an acknowledged Torchbearer of Indian Classical Music, a Trailblazer, Trendsetter and Multi-percussionist. Her incredible contribution in propagating Indian Music, culture and female empowerment have made her a National pride, Youth icon and inspiration to multitudes across the globe…
Anuradha Pal’s story is that of courage, fortitude, commitment and creativity. Learning Classical Vocal and Tabla from age 7, Child Prodigy Anuradha Pal started performing solo when barely 10 years old and started accompanying top Indian musicians in prestigious festivals, when just 13 years old. In the face of rejection for being a girl in the male dominated field of Tabla while from a non-musician family, Anuradha dealt with society prejudices, discrimination, chauvinism and unfair politics, with grit and charm, to turn every obstacle, into an opportunity to reinvent herself and grow her skills with focussed practise.
Blessed by her Gurus, Legendary Ustads Alla Rakha and Zakir Hussain and parents Ila and Devinder Pal, Anuradha ‘emerged as a colossus on the percussion firmament’, and was hailed as ‘Lady Zakir Hussain’ (by Maharashtra Times), when she was just seventeen years old!!!
Impressed by her ‘incredible Tayyari, Layakari and immaculate presentation’, veteran and young Hindustani and Carnatic Instrumentalists, Vocalists and Dancers preferred her as an accompanist, giving memorable concerts in prestigious festivals in India, USA, UK, Western and Eastern Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Africa, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Mauritius and Reunion islands.
Innovator – Anuradha Pal has been enthralling audiences with her diverse offerings, ranging from scintillating Tabla solos/ Jugalbandis to versatile accompaniment with Legendary Indian musicians. Anuradha created 2 path breaking bands – India’s first all female band STREE SHAKTI in 1996 and a Sufi- Folk band called Su-Fo-Re- in 2008, to provide greater inclusion, diversity and empowerment of women and Folk Musicians.
Her pioneering collaborations with New age, Western classical, Jazz, Rock, Latin, African Music, EDM, Folk, Semi classical, Film music to Painting, Poetry, theatre to Kathak and Flamenco Dance are note worthy.
- Anuradha Pal has been internationally acclaimed as the First professional female Tabla virtuoso in the World, by Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Limca Book of records.
- The Ministry of WCD awarded Anuradha Pal the ‘First Ladies Award’ in 2018 for being the ‘First and youngest female Indian Musician to perform in the World famous WOMAD (1999) for 150,000 fans and Woodstock festivals (2008) for 400,000 fans’; making India proud!!
- She is a TOP grade artist of Prasar Bharati and an ‘Established’ artist on the panel of ICCR.
- She has performed for prominent dignitaries and World leaders like Honorable ex-P.M. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, ex-President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Vice President Shri Venkaiah Naiduji amongst important Cabinet Ministers like Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Smt. Maneka Gandhi, Smt. Smriti Irani, Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore; to name a few.
- She has received several prestigious awards like Maharashtra Rajya Sanskrutik Puraskar, Dagar Gharana Samman, Femina Women Super Achiever Award, FICCI Woman of Excellence award etc. (full list in tab below)
- Anuradha contributed in research for the ‘Relationship between Brain, Music and Language’ at Neurosciences University, San Diego and ‘Study of Tabla, Aesthetics and complexities’ at Harvard Science Center.
- Anuradha is also a multi percussionist and Music Composer. Her background score for M.F. Husain’s Bollywood film, Gaja Gamini, ‘Stealing Gods’ etc have been appreciated in the Cannes Film Festival.
- She has composed Music for many top selling Fusion albums like ‘EDM High Voltage’, ‘Recharge Plus’, ‘Passion’, ‘Get Recharged’, ‘Kesaria’ and ‘Nirvana’ and Training videos called ‘Learn Tabla Well’.
Female Empowerment and Social Work
- To help other women come up, Anuradha Pal formed the first all female Indian classical Band ‘Stree Shakti’ in 1996 and toured across the world, thus spreading this message of female empowerment through equal opportunity. Stree Shakti has performed at World renowned festivals like WOMAD for 1.5 lakh fans, Commonwealth Games festival, BBC Music live festival, Bangkok International festival, Rhythm sticks festival in UK, Europe, Africa to name a few…
- Anuradha wrote the lyrics, composed and recorded an Anthem on female empowerment titled ‘Khud ko tu Pehchaan de,’ for the Ministry of WCD, totally free of cost. This is being used as the title song for its #NariShakti campaign and has been appreciated by one and all.
- As Brand Ambassador of ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’, Anuradha Pal performed for over 1 lakh villagers in Jath, Sangli, Maharashtra on 21st June 2017, presenting ‘Yoga through Music’, sensitizing and inspiring villagers to change mindsets on issues of Women empowerment, equality and inclusion.
- Performed at Sri Agarsen Mahavidyalaya (Varanasi), Rebel Girls Interactive (Delhi) and Slum Study department at Ruia College (Mumbai) to inspire Girls/ Women towards freedom from Social evils leading to self empowerment and building character, self esteem and positivity to deal with stress.
- Her organisation Sur aaur Saaz, ideated and curated a month long ‘URJA’ Music festival and a 5 day ‘LAASYA‘ Dance festival for 3500 underprivileged children at National Bal Bhavan (Delhi).
- SAS conducts ‘Music for Wellness’ program for urban children and corporates to improve their emotional quotient, combat stress and life style diseases, through the curative powers of classical Music and Yoga.
- Anuradha Pal had filed a petition with the Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in 2013, to remove the Musician Fee, which was unfairly imposed on musicians’ instruments, by the airlines. I organised a signature campaign and got great support from across the world and was finally able to get the law changed, after backbreaking efforts.
- She contributes to the Indian Army, ‘National Association of Blind’, NGOs like ‘Population First’, ‘Save and Empower the Girl child’, ‘Animal welfare’ charities and public schools.
- Anuradha’s family contributes towards education of poor children in Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
- She is appreciated as a World Peace Ambassador of the Wockhardt Foundation.
Promoting Indian heritage, Culture and Music
- Her organisation, Sur aaur Saaz (SAS) events has been presenting festivals featuring young and outstanding senior musicians since 1993 in India.
- SAS conducts classes and interactive workshops at the Anuradha Pal’s Tabla Academy Mumbai also regularly teach online students across the globe.
- Anuradha Pal is a Masters in Music (Topper) and has given lecture demonstrations at Harvard University, Berkeley School, New England Conservatory, MIT (USA), Vienna Boys Choir, Palazzo Ducale (Italy), MilapFest (U.K), Monash University (Australia), IIT Mumbai, TED talk at BITS Pilani and XIE to spread awareness about our Indian traditional music and culture across the world…
- Anuradha has self-financed Music albums and DVDs of different musicians, to spread the beauty of Indian classical, Folk and spiritual Music spreads across the world.
“Anuradha’s deep reverence for tradition, spiritual upbringing with youthful energy, broad perspectives, humility and boundless commitment to her art” (India Abroad Weekly, USA, 2006) made helped her establish herself as a prominent ‘Torchbearer of Indian music’ (2017) and ‘Woman of Pure Wonder’ (2016).
The New Indian Express
" Anuradha carries the methodical intuition of her Ustads, their clarity & showmanship in finger movements. Then, she has the dynamism, temperament & ‘presence’ of Pandit Kishan Maharaj, the tough lure for softness and detail of Pandit Shamta Prasad & a shooting madness for intrinsic fireworks of Ustad Ahmed Jan Thirakwa."
" Anuradha Pal, the country’s celebrated Tabla player has many firsts to her credit. Apart from being the only woman to have ever mastered this difficult art from Ustad Alla Rakha, she has gone beyond her guru’s celebrity glare. Today, she stands as a woman known for her talent, her firm ethics and one who has made it big on her terms. Anuradha is that kind of fiery artist who has not only talked the talk but also walked the walk."
" The world-renowned star Tabla virtuoso and percussionist Anuradha Pal is reigning supreme as the only female percussionist to have represented India to major festivals. She has emerged as a colossus on the percussion firmament as a tabla soloist and accompanist with top Indian and foreign classical musicians and dancers in major festivals in the UK, USA, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and Africa."
" 'Who is the next big percussionist?' Interview with Ustad Zakir Hussain on 29th Jan 2010. There are at least 15 percussionists who play as well as me, if not better. There are many fine tabla players but the media needs to discover them like Swapan Chowdhury, Anuradha Pal, Yogesh Samsi... Just Google ‘Tabla’ and you will find them all."
" Petite and barely in her teens, Anuradha Pal almost brought down the house with a rousing recital of the Tabla playing Teental. Anuradha’s mastery over the Tabla is undoubtedly exceptional. She plays with a spirited verve and obvious enjoyment. It would be no exaggeration to say that she is a ‘Zakira’ in the making."