Acclaimed sitar maestro Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan and veteran South Indian playback singer P Shusheela have been selected for this year's prestigious 'SaMaPa Vitasta Award'.
While 79-year-old Khan is being awarded for his lifetime contribution in the field of sitar, Shusheela is being honoured for her contribution to vocal music.
Vitasta, named after the ancient name of the river Jehlum which symbolises the cultural ethos of Jammu and Kashmir, carries a cash reward of Rs 50,000 each and is the first ever national-level honour pertaining to Kashmir given specifically to musical luminaries every year.
The awardees were selected by a committee comprising Santoor maestro and music composer Pandit Bhajan Sopori and noted Kashmiri singer Shameen Azad, wife of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Previous recipients of the award instituted by Sopori Academy of Music and Performing Arts include Khayyam (music directrion), Shameen Azad (Kashmiri folk and light music), Hema Malini (dance).
Born in 1929 at Jawra village in Madhya Pradesh, Ustad Khan received his training in Hindustani music from his father Ustad Jaffer Khan of the Bande Ali gharana of Indore and has been performing on concert stage from an early age.
Susheela has lent her voice to many songs in several South Indian movies--Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam, Kannada and even Sinhalese.
The award will be presented on the occassion of two-day 'SaMaPa Sangeet Sammelan 2008' in Delhi at Kamini Auditorium on November 15.