Begum Akhtar was born as Akhtaribai Faizabadi on 7th October, 1914 in Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh. Like other superstars of her time, she was also re-christened as Begum Akhtar. Interested in music since her childhood days, Begum Akhtar belonged to an affluent family which had no connection with music at all. Seeing her inclination towards music, her family sent her to train with famous sarangi player Ustad Imdad Khan. She also learned classical music with other great singers of that era like Abdul Waheed Khan, Mohammad Khan, and Ustad Jhande Khan Saheb.


She gave her first public performance at an early age of fifteen. She became an instant hit with her melodramatic voice and performance power. She was an expert at different facets of music like Ghazal, thumri and dadras etc. Megaphone record company completed her first ever recording in different forms of music. She also acted in few Hindi films in 1930’s. Her film lists include hit names like; Mumtaz Begum, Ameena, Naseeb Ka Chakkar, Mumtaz Begum, Jawaani Ka Nasha etc. She not only acted but sang in those films as well as per the trends of that era. Her moment of glory came with movie ‘Roti’ in which she sang six Ghazals. The movie was made by acclaimed director Mehboob Khan and music was composed by the famous Anil Biswas. All the songs of the movie were hugely appreciated and thereafter she became the number one choice of all music composers.