Zakir Hussain is the pre-eminent classical tabla virtuoso of our time and is appreciated both in the field of percussion and in the music world at large as an international phenomenon. A national treasure in his native India, he is one of the world’s most esteemed and influential musicians, renowned for his genre-defying collaborations, including Shakti, the Diga Rhythm Band, Planet Drum, Tabla Beat Science, Celtic Connection, Sangam with Charles Lloyd and Eric Harland, in trio with Béla Fleck and Edgar Meyer and, most recently, with Herbie Hancock. The foremost disciple of his father, the legendary Ustad Allarakha, Zakir was a child prodigy who began his professional career at the age of twelve, accompanying India’s greatest classical musicians and dancers, and touring internationally with great success by the age of eighteen.
As a composer, he has scored music for numerous feature films and major events and has composed three concertos. The most recent enjoys the distinction of being the first-ever concerto for tabla and orchestra and was premiered in India in September 2015, in Europe and the UK in 2016, and in the United States in April 2017, by the National Symphony Orchestra at Kennedy Center. A multiple Grammy award winner, he is the recipient of countless awards and honors, including Padma Bhushan, National Heritage Fellowship, and Officier in France’s Order of Arts and Letters. In 2015, he was voted “Best Percussionist” by both the DownBeat Critics’ Poll and Modern Drummer’s Reader’s Poll. He has taught at Princeton, Stanford, and the University of California at Berkeley, and is the founder and president of Moment! Records, an independent record label presenting rare live concert recordings of Indian classical music and world music. Zakir was resident artistic director at SFJazz from 2013 until 2016, and was presented with their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017 in recognition of his “unparalleled contribution to the world of music.”