Hussain is today appreciated in both the field of percussion
and in the music world at large as an international
phenomenon. A classical tabla virtuoso of the highest
order, his consistently brilliant and exciting performances
have not only established him as a national treasure
in his own country, India, but gained him fame all over
the world for his many accomplishments. The favorite
accompanist for many of India's greatest classical musicians
and dancers, from Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar to
Birju Maharaj, Hariprasad Chaurasia and Shivkumar Sharma,
he has not let his genius rest there.
Zakir's contribution to world music has been unique,
with many historic collaborations including Shakti,
which he founded with John McLaughlin and L. Shankar,
the Diga Rhythm Band, Making Music, Planet Drum with
Mickey Hart, and recordings and performances with artists
as diverse as George Harrison, Joe Henderson, Van Morrison,
Jack Bruce, Tito Puente, Pharoah Saunders, Billy Cobham
the Hong Kong Symphony and the New Orleans Symphony.
His playing is marked by uncanny intuition and masterful
improvisational dexterity, founded in formidable knowledge
In 1987, his first solo release, "Making Music", was
acclaimed "one of the most inspired East-West fusion
albums ever recorded". In 1988 he was the youngest percussionist
ever to be awarded the title "Padma Shri" by the Indian
Government, a title given to civilians of merit. In
1990 he was awarded the Indo-American Award, in recognition
for his outstanding cultural contribution to relations
between the United States and India.
Zakir's compositional skills can also be heard on the
recently released soundtracks for the films "In Custody"
and Bertolucci's "Little Buddha".
In April 1991, he was presented with the Sangeet Natak
Akademi Award by the President of India, making him
one of the youngest musicians to recieve this recognition
from India's governing cultural institute. In 1992,
Planet Drum, an album co-created and produced by Zakir
and Mickey Hart, was awarded a Grammy for Best World
Music Album, the Downbeat Critics Poll for Best World
Beat Album and the NARM Indie Best Seller Award for
World Music Recording.