The first ever digital archive on the legendary singer Feroza Begum (1930-2014) – www.ferozabegum.com – was launched on July 28, on her 91st birth anniversary. This is a treat for her fans all across the world; the archive contains most of her music albums as well as single releases and catalogues her life’s work. It also provides valuable information about the releases, song lyrics and even staff notations. From press clippings to rare pictures, the archive is filled with information to know about the iconic Nazrul Sangeet singer from Bangladesh.
Born in 1930 in Faridpur, Bangladesh, Feroza Begum received her early music education in Kolkata. The story goes that the poet Kazi Nazrul Islam was once so impressed hearing her sing when she was still a child that he asked acclaimed music director and composer Kamal Dasgupta – who had given tune to many of Nazrul Islam’s lyrics – to oversee her musical growth. Kamal Dasgupta (1912-1974) would later marry Feroza Begum in 1955.
From the time she first released her album on Columbia Records, Feroza Begum blazed across the Bengali music scene both in Bangladesh and India. While the government of Bangladesh conferred upon her the highest civilian honour, the Independence Award in 1979, the government of West Bengal too showered her with accolades, including the Banga Bibhusan Samman, the Satyajit Ray Award, the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Award and others.
Though her name is synonymous with Nazrul Sangeet, Feroza Begum was an extremely versatile artiste and could perform various genres of modern music. In 2013, the West Bengal government conferred upon her the title ‘Mahaguru’ for her contribution in the field of music.
Speaking about the importance of creating such an archive on Feroza Begum, well-known actor, recording and interdisciplinary artiste Sujoy Prasad Chatterjee told Frontline , “We need to understand the importance of archival in the context of not only recording but also as a holistic approach to art. For example, if we want to see Shambhu Mitra or Ajitesh Bandopadhyay acting in a play, we cannot. Archiving Feroza Begum’s songs is not only important for researchers but also for contemporary recording artistes who will have an idea about her style. It is also very important to archive her life, and anecdotes about her.”
Acclaimed singer-songwriter-composer Rupankar Bagchi (popularly known as Rupankar) feels this is an important development as Feroza Begum popularised Nazrul Sangeet all over the world. “Her style of singing and the arrangement of the songs were very modern and still very relevant. This archive is needed all the more since I feel of late Nazrul Sangeet’s TRP has been flagging, and there is an urgent need to spread it among the younger generation,” he told Frontline .