Qawwali queen Noor Jehan Begum dies at 90
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Even as the city was bidding farewell to Homai Vyarawalla on Monday morning, there came the news that popular qawwali singer Noor Jehan Begun Jaipuri had died of heart attack at a private hospital here. Begum was 90.
Begum had migrated to Vadodara in late 1940s and was said to have performed on a number of occasions at Laxami Vilas Palace, the residence of royal family of erstwhile Baroda state.
Not much is known of her early life but it is believed she was born in Jaipur and her father Nannemian also loved music. She had performed alongside Vahidanbai, Jaddanbai and Kali Asgarbai, all popular singers of Vaodara in mid-20th century.
"We have discovered four gramophone records, which mainly contain qawwalis recorded in 1970s," said city-based music curator Narendra Shimail, who had interviewed Begum a few days ago for All India Radio.
Sanjay Dalal, a city-based documentary film-maker, said, "Despite her age, her voice was quit steady and the individual style was intact till these days." Dalal said Begum was to sing for his film in the next few days.
Despite once being a popular singer, Begum had been living in obscurity and adversity for the last two decades in Fatehpura area of the city. Her two daughters, Shehmida and Shahida, are also singers and used to sing with her. Begum's son Hamid is a musician and a poet.
Interestingly, Begum received little attention from the royal family while the cultural city of Vadodara is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad-III, the erstwhile ruler of Baroda. To kick off the celebrations, two big musical events were held at Laxmi Vilas Palace where Sufi singer Kavita Seth and vocalist Abdul Rashid Khan of Gwalior gharana had performed. Begum was not there.
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