Vidya Shah

  • Vidya Shah is a singer, musician, and writer from New Delhi, India. She was initially trained in Carnatic music, and later received guidance in the North Indian genres of Khayal (from Shubha Mudgal and Mujahid Hussain Khan) and Thumri Dadra, and Ghazal (from Shanti Hiranand). She has performed at national and international forums, including the Tansen Samaroh in Gwalior, the Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C, The Asia Society in New York, and the Bode Museum in Berlin. Although trained in the Guru Shishya Parampara, she has combined her formal education with an MA from Delhi University to make music more accessible to a wide range of audiences. She is empanelled with ICCR and has been featured in important Festivals of India, including the Europalia Festival in Brussels.

    A popular performer and a prolific composer, she is a recipient of the Charles Wallace Award and a Senior Fellowship from the Government of India for her project “Women on Record”, a performance highlighting the contributions of the forgotten women performers in the Gramophone era.

    As a performing musician, Vidya combines her understanding of music with its social history and writes frequently for various journals, magazines and newspapers. She also conducts lec-dems and workshops on music for wide ranging audiences, including the well-known TED and INK talks.

    She is the Author of “Jalsa: Indian Women’s Journey from the Salon to the Studio” (Tulika Books)

    She has several published recordings with National as well as International labels. Born into a family with a rich musical heritage, Vidya Shah began her musical journey with South Indian classical music.  But her exposure and growing love for the North Indian style of classical music led her to formal training with Smt. Shubha Mudgal in khayal gayaki. Vidya is currently training with Smt. Shanti Hiranand (senior disciple of Begum Akhtar) in thumri, dadra and ghazal. Although formally educated in social work, it is in music that Vidya has found her calling.

    She is the Nana Shirgaokar Chair Professor for Indian Music at Goa University for 2016-18.

    Any Other relevant information:- Vidya is the author of a seminal book on the gramophone era. It is a commendable effort from a practicing musician to provide these valuable insights in the world of music. She is also a comfortable TV commentator on music and has contributed to archival conversations with legends like Pt.Shiv Kumar Sharma and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan.

    Brief Summary of the Book


    Indian Women and Their Journeys from the Salon to the Studio

    Vidya Shah

    Published by Tulika Books & Centre for Media and Alternative Communication

    March 2016 ISBN 978-93-82381-77-8

    Jalsa takes you through the journeys of women performers in India from the salon to the studio. It was a journey built on the contribution of women who adapted their singing styles while upholding the integrity of their art forms. It’s the story of how women musicians made the transition from salons to recording studios and thus contributed to the making of the music market in India. The book attempts to give an insight into the beginning of the interface of technology and entertainment, and the irreversible impact this has had on how we listen to, enjoy and consume music.

    While women musicians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries have often been eulogised for their artistry, Jalsa extends the narrative to the connection between their music and the earliest recording companies that came to India.

    The book profiles of several artists, discusses the recording industry at that time, transitions into theatre and talkies, with rich illustrations, important archival photographs, it also includes conversations with veteran artists and film makers in recreating the remarkable history of Indian music in the early 20th Century India.