Begum Akhtar’s birth name was ‘Akhtari Bai Faizabadi’. She was an exceptionally good Gazal singer. She was also famous for Dadra and Thumri genres of Hindustani classical music. Akhtari was brought up by a single mother, Mushtari Bai. At a very young age, she had a keen interest in music and thus sent to train under Ustad Imdad Khan, who was a great Sarangi player. After that, she learned music from classical experts like Mohammad Khan, Abdul Waheed Khan of Lahore. At a small age of fifteen years, she gave her first public performance. People started loving her voice. Famous poetess Sarojini Naidu also appreciated her work during a public concert that was organized for the victims of Nepal/Bihar earthquake. Thus, she was one of the female singers to sing in people other than mehfils or such private places.
Megaphone Record Company recorded her first disk. Her Gramophone records were covering all her Dadra, Thumri ghazals, etc. also released. She gained Popularity and People started calling her as Mallika-e-Ghazal (Queen of Ghazal). Begum Akhter was no doubt good looking and thus also acted in nine movies. She was in Lucknow also approached by the producer-director
and thus release of ‘Roti’ took place in 1942. This movie contained six of her ghazals which are available on Megaphone Gramophone records. Akhtari got married in 1945 with a famous lawyer Ishtiaq Ahmed Abbasi of renown family. Her Husband restricted her from singing for almost five years, and she also felt ill during this period.
Then she returned to music that acted as a remedial measure for her illness. She thus again started singing and recorded more Gazals for Lucknow All India Radio station. Some of her famous songs are Dadra poor, Jochona Koreche aari, Koyelia gaana Thama, etc. She received various awards for her work. She was awarded Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her vocal voice and was also given Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan by the govt. Of India. Her charm always remained in her voice and her beauty too. She performed last in a concert of Ahmedabad, and she felt ill there and thus rushed to the hospital. She died on 30 October 1974 at the age of 60 leaving all her friends with sorrow and tears.