Kaumudi born in Varanasi (Banaras) in 1929 but her forefathers shifted to Banaras six to seven generations before her birth.

Though originally from Vadnagar, Gujarat, because these families resided in a Hindi speaking place (Kashi / Banaras), they got habituated in using Hindi for their day to day affair. 
Kaumudi's Parents
Kaumudi is the 6th child of Kunvar Nandlal Munshi and Anuben Munshi. Her grandfather, Madhavlal Munshi was a member on the advisory council of British Viceroy Lord Minto along with another Indian -- Rasbihari Ghosh.

Her mother Anuben was sister to a renowned Gujarati Literate Ramanlal Vasantlal Desai (R.V.Desai). Obviously the ambience of the house carried literature and music. She completed her degree in Arts from the Benaras University in 1950.

After Marriage her husband Ninubhai Mazumdar sent her to legendary artist Siddheshwari Devi to learn singing. Siddheshwari Devi was the Queen of Thumris at that point in time. However, because society discouraged female singers to make a career in singing during those days, Kaumudi did not start her public performance immediately thereafter. But afterall, how long was this going to last? Destiny called her to Bombay (Mumbai) where her brothers were settled. She got a lot of love and direction from R.V.Desai.

Akshay Desai (son of Shri R.V.Desai) encouraged her and helped her to pursue a career in singing. It was difficult for Kaumudi to start singing in Gujarati as all her life she was speaking Hindi. Akshay Desai taught her some Gujarati Songs. Kaumudi gave audition at All India Radio and got selected. This gave the direction to her career and became the key milestone in her impressive journey towards a successful career in singing. In 1951, she started singing in public. While in Bombay, she got introduced to composers like Avinash Vyas, Ninu Mazumdar, Dilip Dholakia, Ajit Merchant etc.
Kaumudi with Ninu Mazumdar
Ninu Mazumdar was a family friend. After coming to Mumbai, the link got explored naturally. Ninu was the Music Director associated with All India Radio where Kaumudi dedicated her initial career.  Kaumudi started singing Ninu's songs in chorus. Ninu was impressed with her performance and attitude towards singing. Slowly, Kaumudi started singing Ninu's songs in Solo. This relationship ultimately culminated into a relationship for life. Kaumudi wed Ninu Mazumdar in 1954. Their families were against the marriage but both remained firm on their decision to be together. Their marriage was a perfect example of the rare blend of literature and music.

Siddheshwari DeviThough Kaumudi was more popular in her performance of Sugam Sangeet (Light Music), she is one of the few Gujarati artists who excelled at Thumris. Siddheshwari Devi was a celebrated "Queen of Thumris".  She used to say that if Thumri is not sung from the heart then it is not Thumri. When an artist sings "Aaja Saavariya Garva Lagaloo" (come let me give you a hug), he/she  should feel the same emotion and the same should get conveyed through his/her performance. Kaumudi understood this very well and could embed the same as a quality in her character. Each performance of Kaumudi is a performance where she and the audience get involved in the lyrics and experience what the lyricist had to say.

Kaumudi spent 5 years learning Gazals from famous musician Taj Ahmed Khan. Kaumudi has her distinctive and appealing style of presenting Gazals and perhaps it is due to this fact.

After marriage also, Ninu was engaged in helping build Kaumudi's career in singing. He actually wrote some songs specially for her, composed them, got her to sing those and helped her with getting a music album made. Kaumudi has crossed 50 years in her singing career.
Kaumudi in ConcertKaumudi is known as the "Nightingale of Gujarat" by her critics and fans both alike. Though she has learnt Indian Classical Music, she is keenly interested in and fascinated by Thumri, Dadra, Chaiti, Kajari, Gazals and Bhojpuri Folk Songs. She believes that lyrics made for these style of singing have emotions of people and experience of the lyricists. The performer gets engrossed into the song and becomes the poet for those moments. And because of this engagement, the performance touches the heart of the audience and the performer is appreciated. This is the reason why people find more emotions and flow in Kaumudi's work than pure singing skills.

She believes that Music is goddess Saraswati herself and therefore, each time she sings, she assumes it as a sacred art of  worship. During her career, Kaumudi was a preferred artist for H.M.V. Her fist album was a HMV LP in 1952 on Garba.  She also performed on All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan. "Choryasi Rango No Saathiyo", a song composed by Ninu Mazumdar is now forever bonded with Kaumudi Munshi in the minds of the Gujarati community.

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Concept by Neha Yajnik

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