Rani Taj

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Rani Taj
Also known as Rani Taj
Born (1993-10-03)3 October 1993
Birmingham (UK)
Origin Mirpur, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan
Genres Bhangra, hip-hop, R'n'B, folk
Occupation(s) International Dhol Player
Instruments Dhol, Viola
Years active 2009–present
Labels None
Associated acts Dhol Blasters/Azaad Dhol Group
Website ranitajinternational.com
Notable instruments

Rani Taj (Urdu: رانی تاج) (born 3 October 1993) is a British Pakistani dhol player from Birmingham, United Kingdom. Although already well known in the Midlands, she rose to international fame in 2010 when she appeared in a viral video playing live in the street along with a recording of Rihanna's song "Rude boy".[1]

Early life[edit]

The youngest of two children, from very early on her mother always called her 'Rani.' The nickname not only stuck but automatically became her stage name.[2]

In an interview with the BBC Asian Network, she states that both of her parents were born in Mirpur, (Azad Kashmir, Pakistan). During the construction of The Mangla Dam, like most other British Pakistanis, her family were dislocated from their homes. One of those was Rani's maternal grandfather who left for Birmingham to look for work in the 1960s. After establishing himself he sent for his wife and children. Rani's mother was four years old when she joined her father in Britain along with her own mother and siblings. Rani's father joined her mother in Britain after they married in 1990. Rani Taj was born in Birmingham in 1993.

Musical influences[edit]

Although, Rani played the dhol since the age of nine, her first instrument was the viola, which she picked up when she was only six whilst at primary school. Towards the end of her primary school career she attended a Vaisakhi Mela, where she saw the Dhol Blasters playing dhol. She immediately fell in love with the Dhol and asked her mum to buy her one so she could learn to play it.

Subsequently, after leaving school she decided to receive professional training. She spent the first couple of years being taught by Gurcharan Mall of the Dhol Blasters and was later also taught by Harjit Singh of the Azaad Dhol Group. Gurcharan Mall had been a dholak player with the group Apna Sangeet and Harjit Singh had been a tabla player with the Azaad Group. Both groups were pioneers in their own right and were part of the first generation of bhangra music to hit the Midlands. As part of the Dhol Blasters Rani also learned to dance bhangra. To gain further experience and provide a service Rani started to play at all kinds of public events such as festivals, parties and weddings. She initially just wanted to be a regular dhol player like many others but this all changed after her YouTube video went viral.

Notable sessions[edit]

In the summer of 2010 just after she had finished playing at a wedding, some wedding guests and family members suggested they put on some tracks in the car and asked her if she could play the dhol alongside the song. Rani stood in a street in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, dressed in full Punjabi dress and candidly mixed to this and Tinie Tempah's 'Pass Out'.[3] This spontaneous mix was recorded and put on YouTube by a friend. People all across the world began watching this video and were shocked as well as pleasantly surprised not only to see a female playing a traditionally male instrument but effortlessly. Traditionally, a male domain Rani Taj has challenged the idea that certain instruments can be played by men only.


Even though only a teenager, Rani continues to be a role model to young people across the world and pursues her passion for the Dhol. She has also spent tireless hours playing dhol for charitable causes such as the flood relief in Pakistan[4] and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. After her YouTube video went viral, she was asked to perform at many venues all over the world including at weddings, charity events and nightclubs. To date, she has played Dhol in New York, Dublin, Hong Kong, Norway, Pakistan and all over Britain. Rani Taj performed at New York in live studio session.[5][6] She performed along with DJ Rekha and Zuzuka Poderosa in Bhangraween 2011. She was also appeared as a guest in a BBC Asian Network program with Noreen Khan[7]

Since 2011 Rani Taj has spent a lot of time with the Sufi dhol players of Pakistan, namely Gunga and Mittu Sain. She is not only fascinated by the 'Qalandari' style of dhol playing but has played alongside them in various Melas and Darbars all over Pakistan.[8] These include the darbars of Baba Shah Jamal, in Lahore,[9] Shabir Shah in Lahore,[10] Baba Lal Shah in Murree,[11] Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sindh,[12] Heera Lal Qalandar Mela in Gujar Khan[13] and Datta Mela at Datta Darbar in Lahore.[14]

Dholis Got Talent[edit]

At the United Kingdom's biggest dhol competition held in Smethwick, near Birmingham and organised by Gurcharan Mall, she was invited to become one of the judges of the tournament. Not only was she the only female judge in the final she was also the youngest judge on the senior panel that day.[15][16]


  1. ^ Rihanna's Rude Boy feat
  2. ^ "Rani Taj – Interview With A Dhol Queen". Facebook.com. 20 September 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  3. ^ Rani playing dhol on "Pass Out"
  4. ^ "Rani Taj – Dhol for Flood Relief in Pakistan". Youtube.com. 3 June 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  5. ^ "Rani Taj Live Studio Session – New York". Youtube.com. 3 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  6. ^ Rani Taj performed in BTR Live Sudio – IMDB
  7. ^ Nihal (6 August 2010). "Noreen Khan, BBC Asian Network". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  8. ^ "Rani Taj – Live with The Dons of Dhol". Youtube.com. 29 April 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "RANI TAJ plays for the first time at the Darbar of Baba Shah Jamal". Facebook.com. 5 April 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  10. ^ "RANI TAJ plays at Shabir Shah Darbar, Lahore". Facebook.com. 5 April 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  11. ^ "Rani Taj – At Baba Lal Shah Darbar, Murree, Pakistan". Facebook.com. 27 June 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  12. ^ "RANI TAJ prepares for Duty at the Darbar of Syed Hussain Shah also known as Lal Shabaz Qalandar". Facebook.com. 12 August 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  13. ^ "RANI TAJ Dhol at Heera Lal Qalandar Mela, 2013". Youtube.com. 22 September 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  14. ^ "At Datta Mela, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan.". Facebook.com. 28 December 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  15. ^ 4 July 2011 (3 July 2011). "Dholi got talent". Pukaarnews.com. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  16. ^ "Detail on Event brite's website". Eventbrite.com. 3 July 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 

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