Parween Sultana was born in Gowgong in Assam in 1950. She was steeped in the lore and lives of the great musical masters by her father, Janal Ikramul Majib, a classical music devotee and a great admirer of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. From an early age her father would take her to music festivals. "I come from a very conservative Muslim family and Muslims are very, very conservative," she told me in 1991. In spite of this, her father encouraged her dawning interest in singing. It led in time to the much frowned-upon practice of singing in public. She debuted on stage at the age of nine. In 1965 she recorded her first EP for EMI India, and in 1967 her first LP for the same label. She trained with Chinmoy Lahiri for ten years before failing health necessitated him suggesting a replacement in the Bombay-based Dilshad Khan. She balked at this initially, only accepting him as her guru in August 1974. They married on August 26, 1975. Since then they have each pursued solo careers parallel to their duo work. An adjunct of her classical work is her occasional moonlighting in the Indian film industry. She has, for example, sung for the soundtracks of Ashary, Kudrat and Pakeezah.
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