Ustad Zakir Hussain with Pt Niladri Kumar
Ustad Zakir Hussain's contribution to world music has been unique, with many historic collaborations, including Shakti, which he founded with John McLaughlin and L. Shankar,
Remember Shakti, the Diga Rhythm Band, Making Music, Planet Drum with Mickey Hart, Tabla Beat
Science, Sangam with Charles Lloyd and Eric Harland and recordings and performances with artists as diverse as George Harrison, YoYo Ma, Joe Henderson, Van Morrison, Airto Moreira, Pharoah Sanders, Billy Cobham, Mark Morris, Rennie Harris, and the Kodo drummers. His music and extraordinary contribution to the music world were honored in April, 2009, with four widely-heralded and sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall Artist Perspective series.
He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1988, and the Padma Bhushan in 2002, by the Government of India. He was also awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1990, given by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama. In 1999, he was awarded the United States National Endowment for the Arts's National Heritage Fellowship, the highest award given to traditional artists and musicians.
Born to sitar player Kartick Kumar, a disciple of Ravi Shankar, Niladri Kumar started learning sitar under his father at the age of four. Kumar gave his first public performance at the age of six at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. Niladri Kumar has also worked with Jonas Hellborg and V. Selvaganesh on their album Kali's Son and with John McLaughlin on album Floating Point. Kumar has also worked with various music directors in Hindi cinema, including A.R. Rahman, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Pritam. Niladri was conferred the Sangeet Natak Akademi's Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar, awarded to young musicians, in March 2007. Niladri has also won MTV Immies award for the Best Classical/Fusion Instrumental for his album If. Kumar has created an instrument, the "zitar", which is a combination of sitar and guitar. The concept initiated from a traveling sitar, which was modified by Kumar to create rock guitar sound out of it