UstādGāh, the idea that shaped into an institution in 2008, is the vision of Zila Khan to provide opportunities for the lesser privileged but musically talented children who do not have the ability to shape their talent and fulfill their dreams. Zila Khan wants to nurture the talent of such children who passionately dream of music. UstādGāh provides them with training and education in music for four to five years. Through UstādGāh, a curriculum has been designed for 11th and 12th classes, which on qualifying will exempt a year of UstādGāh’s curriculum. The disciples of UstādGāh will hone their skills and be empowered to earn their own livelihoods. The idea is to give them an international platform where they can express themselves through music.
With the desire to share the earned knowledge, skill and wisdom, UstādGāh, through this initiative, intends to promote the 'paramparaa' of music and showcase the rich cultural heritage of India to the world.
The substantial and holistic curriculum at UstādGāh is unparallel in the history of this country, as it is based on every aspect and dimension of our culture. UstādGāh will periodically invite luminaries, artists, professors, gurus, business entrepreneurs, yoga teachers and intellectual minds as visiting faculty to work and interact with the children, alongwith its own teachers. The children will simultaneously pursue their regular academics with scholarship, in recognized schools and colleges.
The aim is to provide a wholesome environment to those priviledged children so that they can indulge themselves totally in the process of growth and develop the true genius in them.
With the idea to bring together two seemingly disparate thoughts of being musically inclined and being eco-friendly, Zila Khan has scored into a commercial musical venture, ' OneZone Festivals.' The OneZone Festivals is an endeavour to protect the environment and preserve the rich cultural heritage through the medium of music, the purity of which sensitizes human beings and prompts the change that has to come from within.
Being a commercial venture, OneZone festivals will present concerts of commercial, Indian and international musical artists. The audiences will get a flavour to Sufiana, Classical and international musical genres from the maestro's of the Western, Asian and Arab world.
These events, which may be collaborative, are an attempt at creating prosperity through music, spreading awareness about ecological conditions and raising funds for UstādGāh Foundation.
Through these festivals, the students of UstādGāh will also participate in the development and promotion of Indian handicraft in collaboration with other countries.
“God loves creating diversity”. Appreciating this diversity is the essence of Sufism. And that is what Zila Khan sings with unbridled passion to the delight of her fans.
It was almost a near religious experience. He (Ustad Vilayat Khan, Zila Khan’s father) wanted to communicate and he wanted his passion to be probably for the next generation to see it through you.
He must have seen that quality in you. And had that vision that if anybody is going to take that forward to the next generation, it is you.
- Shobha De
Zila Khan the Sufi legend of the New Millenium is the most prominent and leading Sufi singers of the world.
It is quite a feat for her lineage to have 4 generations of recorded music. Coming from a lineage of 7 generations of legendary musicians, Zila Khan has successfully established herself in a mould that spring from and yet is independent from that of her celebrated father the legendary Sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan. She is also the first and only female singer from this lineage-Gharana. Her concerts are looked forward to by the Sufis and their devotees of all faiths, all over the World. Ask her and you only get one reply ;
« I would like to introduce myself as just a Human Being. What greater joy and honor are to be had than to be Gods Creation. I, therefore, wish to refrain from very high promotional introductions to highlight my work. I
would like you to just enjoy a musical journey with me. My voice and music will be your guide. See me through your ears. Experience and feel the depth of the lyrics that I bring to you, my audience. I am starting anew the
process of “unlearning what I have learnt” as part of my musical heritage. My quest has been in simplifying my life which is finally enabling me to celebrate the “essence of being a Human Being”. Through music, I live and helping underprivileged children has become part of my belief, and my existence, My heart has become able to take all forms. Zila »
Video link of Ustad Vilayat Khans public ceremony in which he is making Zila his gandabandh shahgird (a formal student) enabling her to carry his name forward as one of his successors:
HMV Saregama recently launched a special album with Zila Khan. They printed the following on their album: “Hazrat Rabia Al Basri was the first sufi- woman, born between 717-801 C.E. HER THOUGHTS HAVE BEEN
COMPOSED AND SUNG FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER IN THE HISTORY OF MUSIC”. Zila has made a mark in the history of music. She surprised artists and organizations all over the world by her deep search which lead to her recording and singing the first Sufis Sufiism in hundreds of years by singing Hazrat Rabia Basris dua in her latest album aptly called ”Zila the Girl Child”.
Zila's unstoppable and insatiable desire for literary search constantly leads her to the root of sufiism and brings it forth to the World of MUSIC” was what the critics have to say about it.
Link to the album ‘Zila The Girl Child’: http://www.desiest.com/music/album.jspid=7519
Zila has many Albums/CDs and DVDs to her credit. She has played lead roles in English Musical plays.
In one of them, she sang 14 different genre of Indian Semi Classical, Classical,Folk and Sufi forms. Her live singing, without any instrumental support was mesmerizing. The desire for her to stimulate and challenge her mind in
every creative form is her hallmark. This time as a singing actor.
“Intense, yet simple, empowered, yet down-to-earth, vivacious, yet dignified- that's Zila Khan for you-uncut! But thats to be expected from someone who comes from a lineage that has names like Vilayat Khan and Inayat Khan to boast of.”-Parbina Rashid for Tribune11.May.08.
Zila is known for her perfect command over various styles of performance – be it fusion music, classical ragas, Ghazals, Arabic and Persian songs, Bhakti Sangeet and so on. When she is asked to sing for Jazz Festivals, her
musicality takes leaps and bounds towards a beautiful amalgam of east and west... She sang a western concerto in Arabic!! thus expanding her musical ability to even greater creative heights. She not only created a beautiful blend of fusion music, which has a different and enjoyable flavor but also added a literate value in the world of showbiz giving it her unique style of melody enriched with literature, seeped in heritage and dramatically spunky, encasing her Sufiyana style in the world of international music or Worldmusic as it is called today.
Zila's musical talent has lent itself to other mediums such as directing documentaries, theater and films –In 2006 she made an award-winning documentary on the life and music of her celebrated father Ustad Vilayat Khan’s
life, called “Spirit to Soul”.
Zila has been awarded the “Roll of Honour” by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Chief Justice of India.
“You connected all of us to Almighty through the medium of your music; your singing has and can play a definitive and key role in spreading peace and harmony around the world”. is what President APJ Kalam writes to Zila, when she sang at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Zilas popularity and craze can be matched with the counterpart artists who come to India from Pakistan. She is highly sort after to sing at their Award ceremonies, films and Title songs for their top-most Television Serials.
Video link of her serial promo/title song
Very rarely but for very special films Zila sings and has given music.
Zila is respectfuly always a part of the Indian delegation Headed by the Ministry of Culture as well as Ministry of Women & Child Developement of India to many parts of the World. Zila is a Cultural Advisor and Official Member of the Organizing Committee of the Commonwealth Games. Her guidance and active participation shall be a boost for the coming 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held at New Delhi.
Zila regularly does concerts for these projects :
1. Gender Equality
2. Education for the under privileged (specially the girl child)
3. Cancer research
4. Aids awareness
5. Shelter for the aged
6. Water shortage control in rural areas
7. Global Warming, Ecology/Atmosphere cleansing
8. Women Empowerment.
9. Zila's Institute ”UstādGāh Gurukul ”, is the Home for Musically talented Under Privileged Children across the country and International Borders. The Under Privileged ought not to refer only to the economical factor but also to
those who are deprived of this music, a gift of God. These students have otherwise little or no opportunity to excel themselves. To train and hone their talents further, so as to give them the international platform where they not only earn their livelihood but also preserve and showcase India's Culture and Heritage in today's world with today's technology and awareness. (www.ustadgah.com)
10. Music Workshops have been conducted by Zila, for the Under Privilegedchildren from the government aided and private schools in most parts of India and Abroad.
Zila Khan has also conceived and started a Culture, Music and Heritage Festival, called the OneZone Festivals.
This unique Festival has extensive participation through Culture and Musical vents to be performed by renowned Indian and International artists to promote Secularism, Communal Harmony and World Peace. The students of UstādGāh Gurukul shall also participate in development and promotion of handicraft of India in collaboration with other countries, through the OneZone Festivals . The audiences of this Festival will get exposure to Sufiana, Classical and International music from the maestros of the Western, Asian and the Arab world. The OneZone Festivals shall enhance Indian tourism and culture, onto a world stage. UstādGāh Gurukul Home is to give the under privileged children a place and roof to live under. Zila is building the same with the help of her personal earnings and funds raised in these Festivals and with the support of donation and Corporate
Sponsors are welcome to donate funds and join her in this noble endeavor. 50% of the Donation, at present, is exempted from Tax. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Zila is an ambassador of Heritage and Culture of India. In this context Joint secretary of Tourism, Mr.Amitabh Kant, is of the opinion that Brand India is not about getting actors to showcase the diverse aspects of India, but about getting people from various segments who have contributed to the society. That is the reason, he explains, why Incredible India campaigns in Europe and other countries feature Deepak Chopra promoting ayurveda, sinuous beauty Saira Mohan talking about fashion, flying Sikh Milkha Singh shown golfing and Sufi singer Zila Khan advertising Art and Heritage of India. "Incredible India is a brand that can be built by people who can move destinations and these are all intellectual celebrities," says Mr.Kant. (Check the following url on the advertisement the Indian Government made with Zila...)
Zila specially chooses to give concerts where her personality of secularism enhances the democratic solidarity of Indias peaceful endeavors, specially in these unrestful times and she gives concerts to help NGOs and for her pet
projects for Gender Equality and creating livelihoods for the Under privileged through her UstādGāh Gurukul. She was recently performing at the Lincoln Centre in a rock for rights concert and after singing her hallmark sufiana style she sent her audience into rapturous amazement and applause by singing John Lennons song "Imagine". This song has been sung by most artists of the Western world and in as many genres and languages as can be. But Zila gave this song yet a new style- the Indian style ! This has given a new dimention to a song so widely sung. Zila is a great hit with the hip and the elite, young and the old audiences of the world. Hence she has come to be known as the Sufi Legend of the New Millenium.
Link to Zila Khans Videos: