" If the male synonym for the tabla is Zakir Hussain, then the female equivalent has to undeniably be Anuradha Pal. "
- htCafe, 2011.
" She has not just shattered the stereotypical image of women musicians but established herself as the country’s only woman Tabla player who is pushing the dimensions with her experimentations. Today Anuradha Pal’s name commands as much respect as that of Ustad Zakir Hussain... "
- South Asian Life & Times, 2004.
" ‘30 Leading Women of India’ and ‘a percussionist par excellence’ "
- India Today, 2006.
Acclaimed as the First Professional female Tabla Virtuoso in the world by the prestigious Encyclopedia Britannica, Who’s Who journal of the World & Limca Book of Records (1991), Anuradha Pal is a child prodigy who started performing when she was barely ten and half years old.
Anuradha is the youngest & only female Indian musician to perform at two of the biggest World Music Festivals - Woodstock Festival (2008) for 400,000 fans & WOMAD Festival (1999) for 150,000 fans.
Anuradha Pal ‘stormed the male bastion’ of Indian rhythm, at the age of seven, when the Tabla was considered a strict No-Go zone for women, thereby ‘heralding a musical revolution’, shattering gender biases & empowering women to pursue more creative paths.
Superbly trained by Tabla legends Ustad Alla Rakha & Ustad Zakir Hussain for over 20 years, she is an innovative soloist & multi percussionist, a versatile accompanist with some of the best Indian musicians and an enthusiastic collaborator with Jazz, African, Latin, Flamenco, Crossover Classical, Percussion, Pop, Rock & New-age music.
‘Anuradha Pal has emerged as a colossus on the percussion firmament’ (Tribune, 2009) with her pristine performances having drawn comparisons with the ‘methodical intuition’ & ‘showmanship’ of her Gurus, the ‘presence’ of Pt. Kishan Maharaj, lure for ‘softness & detail’ of Pt. Samta Prasad & a ‘shooting madness for intrinsic fireworks’ of Ustad Ahmed Jan Thirakwa (New Indian Express, 2014).
She is accredited as a TOP Graded musician of All India Radio & Doordarshan (Prasar Bharti).
She has performed for dignitaries like Hon. President & Prime Minister of India & Queen Elizabeth of Britain at major diplomatic events like SAARC Summit & CHOGM Summit.
She represented India at the Asian Performers Summit (Japan, 1999) & Commonwealth Festival (UK, 2000).
She composed the background score for M.F Husain’s film, Gaja Gamini, which was highly appreciated at the Cannes Film festival, for its evocative & innovative approach. To date, it is the only background score played entirely on the Tabla.
Anuradha Pal presents a variety of concerts like -
a) Popular Tabla Jugalbandis.
b) AccompanyingLegendary musicians like Pt. Jasraj, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pt. Shivkumar Sharma, etc. as well as Young Maestros.
c) Anuradha Pal’s Stree Shakti - India’s first all female Classical band.
d) Indi-Folk-Fusion of Qawwali, Sufi, Classical, Ghazal with Folk Music & Percussion.
e) Collaborations with Jazz, African, Latin, Western Classical & New Age music.
She has released many critically acclaimed Music albums like Recharge Plus, Passion, Nirvana, Sheer Magic, Kesaria, Sensational, Get Recharged, Rhythm & Soul & Instructional Learn Tabla Well DVDs.
She was invited as an Artist-in-residence at the prestigious New England Conservatory, and has conducted workshops at Harvard University, Berkeley School, M.I.T (USA), Vienna Boys Choir, Palazzo Ducale (Italy), MilapFest (U.K). She regularly teaches at Anuradha Pal’s Tabla academy in Mumbai & Online through Skype.
Anuradha has contributed in research for the ‘Relationship between Brain, Music & Language’ at Neurosciences University, San Diego & ‘Study of Tabla, Aesthetics & Complexities’ at Harvard Science Center.
"Wellknown Indian classical musician Anuradha Pal stands apart for more than one reason. Feminine grace personified, she chose to storm a male bastion & is today easily the most distinguished female Tabla player the nation can boast of. In a cut-throat, competitive world where each one is out to promote oneself, she has taken it upon herself to showcase upcoming talent."
- The Tribune.
"Her performance could well be a benchmark for women’s foray in the male dominated world of Tabla players."
- AV Max Music Magazine.
Anuradha Pal’s early struggle - She started learning Indian classical Vocal music when she was seven & expressed interest in learning Tabla to get a firm foundation of ‘Sur’ and ‘Laya’. Unfortunately, the teacher refused to ‘teach a girl’ since percussion was a strict No-Go Zone for girls. She persisted and learnt on her own through observation & study, despite a lot of discrimination & struggle. She then started performing professionally in prestigious festivals from the age of 10.5 years, as a child prodigy & startled audiences with her ‘incredible Tayari, Layakari & immaculate presentation’ as was hailed as the ‘Lady Zakir Hussain’!!!
Not coming from a musician's family and being the only female professional in a male dominated field of Tabla, meant two huge disadvantages for her. Excellent encouragement & inspiration from her parents, Ila & Devinder Pal, superlative training from Tabla Legends Ustad Alla Rakha & Zakir Hussain, & great support from top Indian Musicians like Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Vidushi Dr. Girija Devi, Ustad Shahid Parvez to name a few, have helped Anuradha ‘emerge as a colossus & one of India’s leading & most innovative percussionists & composers’, a ‘Trendsetter’, ‘Youth inspiration & Youth Icon’.
After establishing herself as the First female Professional Tabla Virtuoso in the World in 1991, she took it as her responsibility to help, encourage & promote other women musicians, facing similar gender discrimination. She established ‘Anuradha Pal’s Stree Shakti’ - the first, all female, Indian classical Band, in 1996.
Sensing the discouragement for women to get out of their confines by our patriarchal society, I travelled to the remotest parts of country to try and persuade families to allow their talented girls, to perform with her band.
Anuradha Pal’s Stree Shakti has performed in very prestigious festivals like WOMAD, BBC Music live, Commonwealth Games Festival, Bangkok international Music festival amongst numerous others in UK, Europe, Africa, India & the Far East.
To mark the 20th anniversary of the formation of this group, she wrote & composed a special anthem, titled ‘Khud ko Tu Pehchan De’ giving a clarion call to society to rise & unite for the girl child, so that compassion, justice & inner strength of women, become the cornerstone of a strong & progressive India.
In recognition of her sterling efforts towards female empowerment & inclusion, Anuradha Pal was appointed as the Brand Ambassador for UNICEF in 2006.
She regularly performs at the NAB School, for charities & NGOs like Population First, Ladli, ‘Empower a girl child’ & in Municipal & public schools to spread hope & happiness.
She created the ‘Mission - Music for Wellness’ program to better the emotional quotient of all young & senior persons & improve the quality of their life, by using the transformational powers of Indian classical music to bring peace, happiness and emotional strength to deal with stress & life style diseases. In 2015, her organization, Sur aaur Saaz ideated, conceptualized & presented a month long Indian Music Festival called ‘URJA’ & a 5 day Folk & Classical Dance Festival called ‘LAASYA’ for 3500 underprivileged students at National Bal Bhavan; both of which received an overwhelming response from the students.
Due to the untiring efforts towards inspiring & empowering the youth, Anuradha’s own shining example stands for empowerment, equality, justice & inclusion. Hence she was lauded as ‘Asia’s Youth Icon’ at the prestigious Woodstock Festival amongst others.
It is for these reasons that Anuradha Pal has been lauded by Asian-American/ Indo American Who’s Who Journal for ‘her well balanced musicianship & pioneering contribution as a trail blazer for societies around the World.’
Media Appreciation & Documentaries
Featured as one of the ‘pre-eminent Torchbearers of Indian Classical Music’ in a book released in 2017 along with young maestros like Mandolin U. Srinivas, Shankar Mahadevan, Rakesh Chaurasia, Kaushiki Chakraborty, Rahul Sharma, Jayateerth Mevundi, Niladri Kumar amongst others.
Featured as a ‘Woman of Pure Wonder’ in a book by Vodafone Foundation in 2016 along with Justice Leila Sheth, Sanjana Kapoor, Ritu Kumar, Shovana Narayan, Deepa Malik, Bina Sheth, Ritu Dalmia, Shereen Bhan, Sooni Taraporewala etc.
Featured on Polish TV’s major European channel as Asia’s Youth Icon in 2008.
Featured in Documentary ‘Gender Bender’ on women who have exceled & broken barriers in male dominated fields in 2006.
BBC Radio World Service Program featured her as one of the ‘Five Prominent Women Musicians of India’ in 1991
Featured in film ‘Woman of Substance’ by Doordarshan National Archives in 2006.
Documentary ‘All about Her’ produced and shown on the Times Now channel in 2004.
Featured in film called ‘Adventure Divas’ by USA based Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in 2001.
BBC World Service broadcast Stree Shakti LIVE at WOMAD Festival in 56 countries in 1999.
Featured in the documentary titled ‘Aaj ki Nari’ by the Films Division of India in 1999.
Featured extensively on TV and Radio channels in USA, UK, Australia, Japan and India.
Prominent Awards and Recognition
Name of Award
Womens’ Achiever’s Award
Inner Wheel Club of Bombay Airport
Rotary Vocational Appreciation Award
Rotary Club of Bombay West
Woman of Excellence Award
FICCI FLO Ahmedabad
Doordarshan / AIR Top Grade
Prasar Bharati, New Delhi
Women Achievers’ Award
Dagar Gharana Samman
Maharana Mewar Foundation
Adwitiya Stree Shakti Puraskar
Kalidas Academy Ujjain
Malva Taal Shiromani Samman
Malva Sangeet Manch Samiti
State of Canada
Star Taal award
Zee Astitva Award
Maharashtra State Govt.
Best Musician Award
Bhatkhande Lalit Shiksha Samiti
Vocational Excellence Award
Rotary Club, Mumbai
Mahakaleshwar Samiti, Ujjain
Sur Singar Samsad, Mumbai
All India Youth Festival
National Merit Scholarship
Mumbai University-educational excellence
Performances at Major International Music Festivals
Masters of Indian Music Festival, Young Music Wizards of India, Asia Society, Ali Akbar Khan Festival, Basant Bahar Festival, MITHAS, Learnquest Music Festival
WOMAD (Reading), Bath International Music festival, MilapFest, Commonwealth Games Festival, City of London Festival, Asian Music Festival, Rhythm Sticks Festival, Greenwich & Docklands Festival, Darbar Festival, Cardiff Jazz Festival, BBC Music Live Festival (Scotland)
Woodstock Festival (Poland), Voices of the World Festival (Denmark), Sangam Indian Music Festival (Germany), Museum Rietberg (Switzerland), Festival Musicale del Mediterraneo (Italy), Theatre de la Ville (France), Night of the Virtuosos Festival (Reunion Islands), Amrita Sher-Gil Cultural Centre, University of Esztergom (Hungary), The Music Academy, Zadar Puppet Theatre, Croatian National Theatre (Croatia), Madlenianum Opera and Theatre (Serbia).
Global Fusion Festival (Dubai), Vrindavan Festival (Hong Kong), Bangkok International Music Festival (Thailand), Victoria Arts Hall (Singapore), Tokyo Music festival, Japan Music Festival, Phoenix Music Festival (Japan)
Night of the Virtuosos Festival (Mauritius), CHOGM Summit (Nigeria)
AUSTRALIA / NEW ZEALAND
Bellingen Global Carnival, Carnevale Festival, Queensland Performing Arts Complex, The Octagon
Festival of India (Brazil), Festival Musique Multi Montreal (Canada)