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Jon Higgins


Jon B. Higgins (b. Andover, Massachusetts, September 18, 1939; d. 1984) was an American musician, scholar, and teacher known principally for his rare skill as a foreigner in the field of Carnatic music. He lived much of his student and professional life at Wesleyan University.

Higgins was a singer of European and Western classical music. He is also recognized as the first non-Indian to perform South Indian classical Carnatic music at a high level of proficiency. He began his Indian music studies in Wesleyan courses taught by Robert E. Brown and T. Ranganathan, and was quickly captured by the subtle beauty of the art form. He decided to fully dedicate himself to learning the language of Carnatic music, and went to India on a Fulbright scholarship to learn from T. Viswanathan. Within a short period of time he performed to great acclaim at the Tyagaraja Aradhana, an important music festival in South India. He later continued his studies under the renowned dancer T. Balasaraswati, and wrote his dissertation on the dance music of bharatanatyam. Higgins returned to India as a Senior Research Fellow of the American Institute of Indian Studies. He continued to perform Carnatic music, recorded several albums, and due to his widely-recognized sensitivity was honored with the sobriquet "Bhagavatar" (scholarly musician). An accident cut short his dynamic life on December 7, 1984.


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