Mushtari Begum (25 Dec.1934 – 14 Mar.2004) was the first Indian Ghazal exponent whose father hailed from Lucknow, India and was born in the Islands of Fiji. She was key in bringing the art of classical Ghazal to Vancouver’s communities.
In her young age, she was first a disciple of her father, the late Ustad Amjad Ali, a Thumri exponent. In her later life, she travelled to India and learned from legends such as the late Ustad Faiyaz Khan of the Sahaswan Gharana of vocal singing, and Shrimati Shyamala Bhave of Bangalore, India. Her extraordinary vocal capabilities ranged close to four octaves and, in her prime musical form, she quickly ruled the charts of Fiji’s musical industry.
She won 36 trophies and numerous recognitions and wards between 1947 and 1973. Her crowning moment was when she was awarded the title Malika-e-Ghazal or “Queen of Ghazal” in 1973, by the Indian High Consulate in the Island of Fiji. She settled in Vancouver, BC in 1973 with her husband Sheikh Mohyudean, and continued to pursue her passion as an Indian classical vocalist byway of South-Asian and Indo-Fijian community programs. She became the vocal teacher and guru of Cassius Khan in 1990, after seeing his dedication to learning the artform of vocal and tabla.
Mushtari Begum died suddenly from a massive heart attack in her home on the evening of March 14th 2004. Cassius Khan initiated this festival in her memory as a tribute to her contributions in classical Ghazal in Vancouver, and for honouring her as his guru.