Hirabai Badodekar (1905 – November 20, 1989) was a renowned Indian Hindustani classical music singer. Hirabai was born as Champakali to Kirana Gharana master Ustad Abdul Karim Khan and Tarabai Mane. Tarabai was the daughter of Sardar Maruti Rao Mane, a brother of princely Baroda state’s “Rajmata” during the middle of the 19th century. Abdul Karim Khan was the court musician in Baroda when Tarabai was young, and he taught her music. The two fell in love and decided to get married; but Tarabai’s parents disapproved of the alliance, and the couple had to leave the state (along with Abdul Karim’s brother, Ustad Abdul Haq Khan). The couple moved to Bombay (Mumbai), and had two sons: Suresh or Abdul Rehman, and Krishna; and three daughters: Champakali, Gulab, and Sakina or Chhotutai. In their adult lives, the five respectively became known as Sureshbabu Mane, Krishnarao Mane, Hirabai Badodekar, Kamalabai Badodekar, and Sarswatibai Rane.
She had her initial training from her brother Sureshbabu Mane and later training from the doyen of Kirana Gharana, Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan, who was a cousin of her father, Abdul Karim Khan. (In 1922, Hirabai’s parents had parted company; thus Hirabai received only limited musical lessons from her father.) Hirabai was an expert in Khyal, Thumri, Marathi Natya Sangeet, and Bhajan. She is credited with having popularized Hindustani Classical Music among the masses. Hirabai acted in several movies, including “Suvarna Mandir”, “Pratibha”, “Janabai”, and “Municipality”. She also started a music school, “Nutan Sangeet Vidyalaya”, to teach music to girls. The school staged several plays. Hirabai became a recording artist very early in her career. (Her 78 rpm recordings have been re-released on cassettes by RPG in their Classical Gold series.)
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