Shivkumar Sharma is a man who changed the face of world music with his fingers on the stringed musical instrument, Santoor. He was born to the singer Uma Dutt Sharma in Jammu whose dream was to see his son make a name for himself in the musical industry. So, he started teaching him vocals and Tabla at the age of five and Shivkumar started playing Santoor at the age of thirteen. His road to stardom was filled with obstacles. He gave his first public performance at a national level concert in Bombay in 1955 and that happened to a lot of radio broadcasts and performances.
This performance was the turning point in his career. In 1960, he recorded his first album. He also composed the background music for one of the scenes in Shantaram's Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje. Shivkumar Sharma and flautist
collaborated to compose music for various Hindi films starting with Silsila (1980). They became famous as Shiv-Hari music duo, composing music for famous musical hits like Faasle (1985), Chandni (1989), Lamhe (1991) and Darr (1993).
They have become an indispensable part of our cinema. Shivkumar has been awarded with many national and international honours. He has been the recipient of an honorary citizenship of the city of Baltimore, USA (1985), the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1986, the Padma Shri in 1991, and the Padma Vibhushan in 2001. He has also received many gold and platinum discs for his work in Hindi cinema. He has two sons with his wife, Manorama.
His son, Rahul, is also a santoor player and they have been performing together since 1996. In an interview to rediff.com, Shivkumar stated that he chose Rahul as his student because he thought he had the "gift of God". Various recording companies from India and overseas have tried to capture Pt. Sharma’s genius for the last forty years. Today, he has over 100 recordings to his credit in LPs, CDs, audio cassettes and even DVDs. In fact, he is the only classical musician who has agreed to do a music video in order to appeal to the young generation. Shivkumar Sharma thinks music is the food of the soul, and he surely is the soul of Indian classical music.
Another Version of this story…
Shivkumar Sharma is India’s most popular Santoor player. A pioneer in his art, he was born on the 13th of January in the year 1938 in Jammu. His father, Uma Dutt Sharma was also a prominent classical musician. His son inherited his talent and became a good vocalist and tabla player at a very young age of five years. He then began learning the folk instrument Santoor at the age of thirteen. He gave his first on-stage performance in Mumbai in the year 1955.
He began composing music by producing background music for Shantaram’s play Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje in the year 1956. His first solo album came out in the year 1960.
In the later years, he released almost 25 albums, all of which were quite successful. His album Call of the Valley released in collaboration with Hariprasad Chaurasia and Brij Bhushan Kabra in the year 1967 is considered one of the greatest hits in Indian Classical Music. He has also composed music for quite a few Bollywood movies working with Hariprasad Chaurasia. The duo became popular as Shiv-Hari, and their line of success in Bollywood began with the 1980 release Silsila, followed by Faasle, Chandni, Lamhe, and Darr.
Shivkumar Sharma married Manorama and is the proud father of two boys. His son Rahul followed in his footsteps and is now a Santoor player himself. The father-son duo has performed in various concerts together since the year 1996.
Shivkumar Sharma received many national and international awards in his long career. He was presented the honorary citizenship of the city of Baltimore in the year 1985. He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in the year 1986. He was then awarded the prestigious awards Padma Shri in 1991 and PadmaVibhushan in 2001.
A child prodigy, a master of the Santoor and a state of the art classical musician, the 78-year-old maestro is one of the greatest classical musicians the country has ever seen!