Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty born 25th Dec, 1952) is an Indian Hindustani classical vocalist, composer, lyricist and Guru, poised nearly as a cult figure among all the legendary Indian Classical Musicians.
Although considered a scion and doyen of the Patiala-Kasur Gharana , primarily representing Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Ustad Barkat Ali Khan Sahibs gayaki, he can equally portray even the most subtle features of other major classical gharanas of India like Indore, Delhi, Jaipur, Gwalior, Agra, Kirana, Rampur and even Carnatic music of South India.
Recipient of as many as 5 prestigious national awards – Padma Shri (2011) - by the President of India, National Tansen Samman 2015 - by the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (Delhi, 1999-2000), The Kumar Gandharva Samman (National Award, 1993) and the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer in 1989- "For bringing the rare depth of emotion, adorned by his command on the classical idiom" in Bengali Film “Chhandaneer” 1989.
He has also received felicitations from both the former and present Chief Ministers of his own State, West Bengal. In 2012, Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee conferred him the Maha Sangeet Samman and the Banga Bibhushan, two of the State’s highest awards. In 2015 he has received Guru Jnan Prakash Ghosh Lifetime Achievement Award.
Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty has performed in innumerable concerts and is perhaps the busiest classical vocalist of his generation today. He regularly, annually participates in all the major prestigious music conferences & festivals – all over India and abroad. He has performed in some of the most prestigious venues around the world like the Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, New Orleans Jazz Preservation Hall – in the USA, including being the recipient of Golden Key to the city of New Orleans; The Royal Albert hall and Queen Elizabeth hall in the UK, Theatre de la Ville in France; Sammukhananda, Nehru Center, NCPA in Mumbai, Shirifort auditorium in New Delhi-India, to name a very few.
Pt. Ajoy Chakrabarty has more than 100 albums to his credit, published from India, USA, UK, Holland and Germany that feature pure classical and light classical numbers including thumris, dadras, bhajans and other types of devotional songs. He also has numerous recordings of Shyamasangeet, Rabindra Sangeet, Nazrulgeeti, Raagpradhan and even Bengali Modern Songs that are widely popular.
Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty is the resident senior most Guru of ITC Sangeet Research Academy, where along with teaching disciples he also resides with his wife Smt Chandana Chakraborty and son Ananjan, who is an upcoming music producer. Noted Indian classical vocalist Kaushiki Chakraborty is his daughter.
Early life and Gurus
Chakrabarty was born in Kolkata, West Bengal to Shri Ajit Chakraborty in a Hindu Brahmin family. He moved to India from his homeland, Bangladesh during the partition and raised two sons in Shyamnagar. His younger brother, Sanjay Chakraborty is a world class lyricist and composer.
He graduated top of his class in music, both in B.A and M.A from the prestigious Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata and joined the ITC Sangeet Research Academy in 1977. Being the academy’s very first outstanding scholar, he became their only gold medalist fellow, a member of their Experts’ Committee and a senior Guru where he still serves as a prime mover in all its promotional courses to date.
His father, late Shri Ajit Kumar Chakraborty was his first Guru. After this Shri Pannalal Samanta and Shri Kanaidas Baigari were the ones with whom his initial orientation with music happened, before he was warmly accepted by the ultimate and the greatest Guru of all times, Padmabhushan Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh. His training was then continued under Ustad Munawar Ali Khan (son of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan).
Besides that, he had learnt from several other maestros like Ustad Latafat Hussain Khan, Pt. Nibruttibua Sarnaik, Vidushi Hirabai Barodekar and in Carnatic styles from Professor, Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna, that kept enriching his musical expression and repertoire. Despite having such pure classical “taleem” in the Dhrupad-Khyal genre, he is amazingly adroit and a trend setter, in rendering all the lighter forms like Thumri, Tappa, Geet, Bhajan, Keertan, Folk, Film/Non-Film and modern songs, in several different languages, like Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil, Telegu, Persian and even in English, which all together, has given him the single distinguished recognition of being an absolutely one-of-a-kind musical personality, in the music scene of India today.
Chakrabarty is considered one of the vocal legends of Indian classical music. He is notable for imagination and sensitivity to lyrics, coupled with his uncanny sense of rhythm. Recipient of as many as 4 prestigious awards of highest order from the President of India – Padma Shri (2011), Sangeet Natak Akademi (Delhi, 1999–2000), Kumar Gandharva (National Award, 1993) and the Best Male Playback Singer (Bengali Film "Chhandaneer" 1990) – Chakrabarty has received felicitation from both the former and present Chief Ministers of West Bengal. The first Indian vocalist invited by the Pakistan and Chinese governments, Chakrabarty has performed in innumerable concerts and is still participating in prestigious music conferences, festivals, and venues, including Dover Lane, Rabindra Sadan, Kala Mandir, Science City in Kolkata; Sanmukhananda, Nehru Centre, NCPA in Mumbai; Kamani and Sirifort in Delhi; Carnegie and Kennedy Centre in the United States, Royal Albert and Queen Elizabeth in England; and Theatre De La Ville in France, to name a few. He also was awarded honorary citizenship in New Orleans, after performing with jazz musicians at Preservation Hall, the birthplace of jazz music.
Thus far, Chakrabarty has recorded over 100 albums, mostly published from India, the United States, Canada, UK, and Germany, composed of pure classical numbers including live performances and various other genres – Thumri, Dadra, Bhajan and other devotional songs like Shyamasangeet and many Bengali numbers, including songs of Tagore and Qazi Najrul Islam.
Inspired by the ideals of his Guru Jnan Prakash Ghosh, Chakrabarty founded Shrutinandan – A Music Kingdom, a musical institution designed to preserve and perpetuate the tradition of Indian Raga music. By the late 90s, he started to nurture young and budding talents in his music school, and it has since developed into a 1000+ strong body after a period of a decade and a half.