In the 12th century, Raja Ramadevaraya was the reigning king of Devgiri. Gopal Nayak was a singer in his court (durbar). Amir Khusro, his contemporary, was the rajagaayak (head court singer) in the court of Allahuddin Khilji. As the story goes, Allauddin Khilji invaded Devgiri and defeated Raja Ramadevaraya. Gopal Nayak was commanded to present his skills in a singing competition held in the court. For six days, he displayed his talent in singing. Amir Khusro surreptitiously heard his entire singing. When it was Khusro’s turn to sing, he improvised on the same raga and presented it in a different form. As Gopal Nayak could not promptly reproduce it, he lost. But Khusro was mesmerized with Nayak’s singing and took him to Delhi. Gopal Nayak is considered a trail-blazer among the singers of olden days.
Gopal Nayak was also proficient in playing instrumental music and dancing. He specialised in presenting Chand and Prabandh forms of singing of that period. He also excelled in teaching music. Making new compositions was his hobby.
He composed ‘Geeti’ and presented it in a concert in the court of Allahuddin Khilji. Amir Khusro was immensely pleased with his melodious voice and high standard of singing. Khusro learnt Hindustani Sangeet from him. Nayak created the ‘Kadamb Raga’ and ‘Kuduk Taal’. In the world of music, he will always be remembered as a Nayak (hero), artist and scientist.