Women on Record – Discussions with Vidya Shah

vidya at roy bari

Last year I had the privilege of attending Vidya Shah’s discussion on her project, Women on Record and latest published work, Jalsa: Indian Women and the Journeys from the Salon to the Studio. Through her project and her book, Shah journeys through the gramophone era and tells the stories of women who were amongst the first to record India’s rich musical heritage. Shah herself is a musician and during the talk she brings these women and their musical tradition to life.

I was easily swept away, transported to another time during the intervals where Shah performs. I forgot I was in a lecture hall and not at a classical music concert, only to be pulled back into discussions around gender, technology and music. Shah’s project, Women on Record is thought provoking.


Gauhar Jan


We often speak of technology as a unifier, a method to bring more voices into a conversation. Shah discusses the intersections between gender, technology and music and in this she shows how the gramophone both created a record but also highlighted existing divisions within society. As time passed, the vocal records were created however many of the stories of the artists were forgotten. Shah brings some of them back to us, using the small amount of documentation available.

Consumption of music was popularized during the gramophone era. Shah explains how the gramophone changed social settings, and during the discussion one can’t help but contemplate where technology has brought us today? How has it changed our way of consuming art? How have the many paths and platforms that have emerged out of technology uplifted today’s female artist? Does technology also highlight the current gender divisions in our society?Zohra Bai

Shah highlights the path created by those first women on record for future generations to participate in the performance space; how spaces opened to women who’s musical works were previously not deemed appropriate for consumption. A popular performer and prolific composer, Vidya Shah is a recipient of the Senior Fellowship from the Government of India and the Charles Wallace Award for her project ‘Women on Record’. She has performed at various places in India and abroad and if you are in Chicago on November 2nd I urge you to make time and attend this wonderful session. Be a part of Vidya Shah’s Women on Record project and attend!

– Jamie Beth Mehra

Eye on India is pleased to co-present world-renowned vocalist Vidya Shah along side Namaste at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 2nd November, 4:30 – 6PM

For more info visit: Events

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Eye on India is a young and dynamic organization whose role is to serve as a facilitator and integrator. Promoting appreciation for diverse programming in the cultural landscape of Chicago, the festival’s uniqueness lies in its ability to create and inspire collaboration among various cultural, community and business organizations across Chicago and other cities in the US and India.

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