He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1988, and the Padma Bhushan in 2002, by the Government of India. He was also awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1990, given by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama. In 1999, he was awarded the United States National Endowment for the Arts‘ National Heritage Fellowship, the highest award given to traditional artists and musicians.
Early life and education
Hussain was a child prodigy. His father taught him Pakhawaj from the age of 3 years. He was touring by the age of eleven. He went to the United States in 1969 to do his PhD at the University of Washington, receiving a doctorate in music. After that he began his international career, including more than 150 concert dates a year.
The first Planet Drum album, released in 1991 on the Rykodisc label, went on to earn the 1992 Grammy Award for Best World Music Album, the first Grammy ever awarded in this category. The Global Drum Project album and tour brought Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Sikiru Adepoju, and Giovanni Hidalgo together again in a reunion sparked by the 15th anniversary of the ground-breaking album Planet Drum. The album Global Drum Project won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album at the 51st Grammy Awards Ceremony held on 8 February 2009.)
He composed, performed and acted as Indian music advisor for the Malayalam film Vanaprastham, a 1999 Cannes Film Festival entry which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival (AFI Fest) in 1999, and won awards at 2000 Istanbul International Film Festival (Turkey), 2000 Mumbai International Film Festival (India), and 2000 National Film Awards (India). He has composed soundtracks for several movies, most notably In Custody and The Mystic Masseur by Ismail Merchant, and has played tabla on the soundtracks of Francis Coppola‘s Apocalypse Now, Bernardo Bertolucci‘s Little Buddha, and other films.
He starred in several films specifically showcasing his musical performance both solo and with different bands, including the 1998 documentary “Zakir and His Friends”, and the documentary “The Speaking Hand: Zakir Hussain and the Art of the Indian Drum” (2003 Sumantra Ghosal). Hussain co-starred as Inder Lal in the Merchant Ivory Film Heat and Dust in 1983, for which he was an associate music director.)
Zakir Hussain married Antonia Minnecola, a Kathak dancer and teacher, who is also his manager. They have two daughters, Anisa Qureshi and Isabella Qureshi. Anisa graduated from UCLA and is trying her hand in video production and film making. Isabella is studying dance in Manhattan.
He was named an Old Dominion Fellow by the Humanities Council at Princeton University, where he resided for the 2005–2006 semester as full professor in the music department. He was also a visiting professor at Stanford University. He now resides in San Francisco.
- Evening Ragas (1970) Vasant Rai
- Shanti (1971)
- Rolling Thunder (1972) – Mickey Hart
- Shakti (1975) – Shakti with John McLaughlin
- Karuna Supreme (MPS, 1976) – John Handy with Ali Akbar Khan
- Hard Work – John Handy (ABC/Impulse, 1976)
- A Handful of Beauty (1976) – Shakti with John McLaughlin
- Diga (1976) – Diga Rhythm Band
- Natural Elements (1977) – Shakti with John McLaughlin
- Morning Ragas (1979) with Vasant Rai
- Who’s to Know (1980) – L. Shankar
- Song for Everyone (1985) – L. Shankar
- Making Music (1987) with Jan Garbarek, John McLaughlin and Hariprasad Chaurasia
- Tabla Duet (1988) – Zakir Hussain & Alla Rakha
- Venu (1989) – Hariprasad Chaurasia & Zakir Hussain
- At the Edge (1990) – Mickey Hart
- Maestro’s Choice Series One (1991) – Alla Rakha
- Planet Drum (1991) – Mickey Hart
- When Words Disappear (1991) – David Trasoff & Zakir Hussain
- Flights of Improvisation (1992)
- Sangeet Sartaj (1992)
- The One and Only (1992)
- Zakir Hussain and the Rhythm Experience (1992)
- Music of the Deserts (1993)
- Rag Madhuvanti / Rag Misra Tilang (1993) – Shivkumar Sharma
- Concert for Peace (1993) – Ravi Shankar
- Jog And Rageshri (1994)
- Ustad Amjad Ali Khan & Zakir Hussain (1994) – Amjad Ali Khan & Zakir Hussain
- Golden Krithis Colours – (1994) – Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan
- Raga Aberi (1995) – Shankar
- Maestro’s Choice – Series Two (1995) – Sultan Khan & Zakir Hussain
- World Network Series, Vol. 1: India- Raga Purya Kalyan (1995) – Zakir Hussain & Shivkumar Sharma
- The Elements – Space (1996)
- Mickey Hart’s Mystery Box (1996) – Mickey Hart
- Kirwani (1997)
- Magical Moments of Rhythm (1997)
- And the Rhythm Experience (1998)
- Essence of Rhythm (1998)
- Night Spinner (1998) – George Brooks (Moment Records)
- Supralingua (1998) – Mickey Hart
- Fire Dance (1998) collaboration with Pat Martino
- Save Our Children (1999) – Pharoah Sanders
- Remember Shakti (1999) – Remember Shakti
- Spirit into Sound (1999) – Mickey Hart
- The Believer (2000) – Remember Shakti
- Tala Matrix (2000) – Tabla Beat Science
- Golden Strings of the Sarode (2001) – Aashish Khan & Zakir Hussain
- Saturday Night in Bombay (2001) – Remember Shakti (Universal Records)
- Selects (2002)
- Summit (2002) – George Brooks (Earth Brothers Music BMI)
- The Best of Mickey Hart: Over the Edge and Back (2002) – Mickey Hart
- Live in San Francisco at Stern Grove (2002) – Tabla Beat Science
- Ustad Mohammad Omar: Virtuoso from Afghanistan (2002)- Zakir Hussain
- Energy (2003)
- Live at Miles Davis Hall (8 July 2004) – Remember Shakti
- Live at 38th Montreux Jazz Festival (18 July 2004) – Remember Shakti
- Punjabi Dhamar (2004)
- Raag Chandrakauns (2004)
- Sangam (2006) – Jazz collaboration with bandleader Charles Lloyd.
- Soukha (2006) – V. Selvaganesh (with John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, Vikku, Shrinivas) – Naive
- Global Drum Project (2007) – Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Imran Hussain, Chandan Sharma Sikiru Adepoju, Giovanni Hidalgo – Shout Factory
- The Melody of Rhythm (2009) – Bela Fleck, Zakir Hussain, Edgar Meyer
- Mysterium Tremendum (2012) – Mickey Hart Band
- Heat and Dust (1983) Merchant Ivory Film
- Miss Beatty’s Children (1992)
- Saaz (1998)
- Zakir and His Friends (1998)
- The Speaking Hand: Zakir Hussain and the Art of the Indian Drum (2003) Sumantra Ghosal
- Talamanam Sound Clash – Further Adventures in Hype (2003 – DVD) – Tabla Beat Science
- The Way of Beauty (2006 – DVD) – Remember Shakti
- The Rhythm Devils Concert Experience (2008 – DVD) – The Rhythm Devils
Awards and accolades
- Awarded the titles of Padma Shri in 1988, and Padma Bhushan in 2002, becoming the youngest percussionist to be awarded these titles, given to civilians of merit by the Indian government.
- Awarded the Indo-American Award in 1990 in recognition for his outstanding cultural contribution to relations between the United States and India.
- Presented with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1990 by the President of India, making him one of the youngest musicians to receive this recognition given by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama.
- In 1992 Planet Drum, an album co-created and produced by Hussain and Mickey Hart, was awarded the first-ever Grammy for Best World Music Album, the Downbeat Critics’ Poll for Best World Beat Album and the NARM Indie Best Seller Award for a World Music Recording.
- Recipient of the 1999 National Heritage Fellowship of National Endowment for the Arts, the United States’ most prestigious honour for a master in the traditional arts, presented by First Lady Hillary Clinton at the United States Senate on 28 September 1999.
- In 2005, he was named an Old Dominion Fellow by the Humanities Council at Princeton University, where he resided for the 2005–2006 semester as full professor in the music department, teaching a survey course in Indian classical music and dance.
- Recipient of the prestigious Kalidas Samman in 2006, an award for artists of exceptional achievement, from the government of Madhya Pradesh.
- Golden Strings of the Sarode (Moment! Records 2006) with Aashish Khan and Zakir Hussain was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Traditional World Music Album category in 2006.
- In 2007, readers’ polls from both Modern Drummer and Drum! magazines named Zakir Hussain Best World Music and Best World Beat Drummer respectively.
- On 8 February 2009 for 51st Grammy Awards, Zakir Hussain won the Grammy in the Contemporary World Music Album category for his collaborative album “Global Drum Project” along with Mickey Hart, Sikiru Adepoju & Giovanni Hidalgo.
- On 23 February 2012 for Guru Gangadhar Pradhan Lifetime Achievement Award at Konark Dance & Music Festival, Organised by Konark Natya Mandap
- Masters of Percussion: An Interview with Zakir Hussain – with Douglas Heselgrave (The Music Box, Friday 12 September 2008)