A. Kanan / Arkut Kannabhiram (June 18, 1920 - September 12, 2004), more popularly known as A. Kanan, was an Indian vocalist in the Hindustani classical tradition. He is known for the khayal form of singing to which he lent his individuality.
Arkut Kannabhirham was born in Chennai, erstwhile Madras, in 1920. In his boyhood years he was passionate about two things - vocal music and cricket. While the former was to him just a hobby close to his heart, the boy excelled in the latter. However, he had a very melodious voice.
Arkut Kannabhirham made his formal debut in the world of Hindustani style of classical vocal music in 1943, when he performed at the All Bengal Music Conference in Kolkata.
Arkut Kannabhirham began his professional career joining the railways at a young age of 18. In his 20's, while on a visit to erstwhile Bombay, now Mumbai, to play a cricket match, he paid a visit to the All India Radio station there and happened to give an audition that changed the course of his life. The auditioners were such impressed by his gifted voice that they offered him a slot of air time, and thus began his musical journey. His job saw him posted at Hyderabad and here he began taking lessons in Hindustani classical music from Pandit Lahanu Babu Rao. Shortly after, he got transferred to Calcutta (now Kolkata) where he kept his assignation with music alive under the tutelage of Pandit Girija Shankar Chakraborty. Subsequently, when his job required his transfer from Kolkata, he left the job and stayed on in the city. He married Malabika Kanan, another acclaimed Hindustani vocalist of the time.
It was during his stay at Calcutta that he earned a name for himself by his melodious voice and a very personal style of gayaki that he developed. With his enormous acclaim he came to be better known as Pandit A.T. Kanan. Today few will remember Kanan by his original name. Kanan went on to become a regular on the All India Radio and was counted among top graded artists. His khayal renditions in Raga Jog, Rageshri, Bihag and Hansadhwani were popular all across the country. The acclaimed Bengali filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak used his fast khayal "Laagi Lagan Pati Sakhi Sang" set in Raga Hansadhwani in his classic film Meghe Dhaka Tara. Today not many of Kanan's recordings survive. But he will be always remembered for the master performance he gave for the film.
In the 1950s, along with other musicians, Kanan founded the Calcutta Music Circle. Several young students had the opportunity of learning Hindustani classical music from him and went on to make names for themselves in later lives.
Arkut Kannabhirham died in 2004, aged 84, at Kolkata.