Biography of Jagjit Singh
was a time, in the decade of seventies to be precise, when people
talked about Ghazals they usually meant Noor
Jahan, Malika Pukhraj, Begum
Akhtar, K.L. Saigal, Talat
Mahmood and Mehdi Hassan.
But the perceptions changed soon; in 1976 an album by the name
'The Unforgettables' hit the
music stores. Essentially a Ghazal album, it had a new feeling
about it, fresh sounds and melodic lyrics being the notable features
of this album. Skeptics had their own reservations, purists scorned
at it but the audience was, well, lapping up the album and this
is what mattered or matters.
Singh with his better half, is single handedly responsible
for changing the course of this genre of music known as Ghazals
making it more ear friendly, melodic and mass oriented without
poaching on the purity, which he has remarkably maintained. An
Aquarian, he was born on the eighth day
of February in the year 1941 at SriGanganagar in Rajasthan.
His father Sardar Amar Singh Dhiman,
a Government servant, originally hailed from Dalla village in
Ropar district and his mother Sardarni Bachchan
Kaur came from deeply religious Sokhi family of Ottallan
village near Samralla. His siblings include four sisters and two
brothers and he is fondly called Jeet
by his family.
The maestro has all the traits of the sun sign like inventiveness,
vision, imagination and innovation. Although his late father always
wanted him to pursue IAS as a career, he took immense pride in
his son`s achievements in the world of music today. Schooling
was done from Khalsa High School
at SriGanganagar. He passed his Inter in Science stream from Government
college, SriGanganagar. He graduated in the Arts stream from DAV
College, Jalandhar. He also acquired a Post Graduate Degree
in history from Kurukshetra University,
Haryana. His association with music goes back to his childhood
days when he was twelve years old.
He first learnt under Pandit Chaganlal Sharma
for two years in SriGanganagar. After which for another six years
he learnt under Ustad Jamaal Khan
of Sainia Gharana, under whom he learnt all forms of Indian ClassicalMusic
- Khayal, Thumri and Drupad. He always had an open mind and was
ready to learn from lesser known but talented musicians throughout
his college days. The Vice Chancellor of Punjab and Kurukshetra
University, Late Professor Surajbhan
envinced keen interest of music in him.
Bollywood beckoned him and he reached
Bombay in 1965 and his struggle from another wannabe to the pinnacle
of Ghazal started. Like any other struggler, he too had his share
of trials and tribulations. He never had a god-father and hence
it was an uphill task to survive in Mumbai. He lived as a paying
guest and accepted every singing assignment that came his way
- be it jingles for ad films or performing at weddings and parties.
In 1967 he met Chitra while doing jingles and they got married
They first tasted success with 'The Unforgettables'
released in 1976, this album set new sales records and since then
there has been no looking back. They epitomise the first successful
husband-wife singing team. The love affair that started with 'The
Unforgettables' continued well into 'Ecstasies'.
It flew high with 'A Sound Affair'
and grew passionate with 'Passions'.
Needless to say, that all of them disappeared from the shelves
like magic. And magic it was, of the duo's voice, of the blissful
romance and the utter blithesome quality of their Ghazals.
While the above-mentioned albums were breezy, 'Beyond
Time' released in the opening years of nineties was
an experimentation with sounds and conveyed a feeling that was
beyond space and time. Around this time the duo was struck by
grief as their only son met an untimely death. Shocking, as it
was to them, it was as much shocking for the innumerable fans
across the world. The album is a tour to the soul, ethereal, conscientious
and introspective. Fraught with pain, the album in one word is
touching. 'Someone Somewhere' has become the last album by the
duo together and subsequently Chitra Singh called it quits.
The towering persona of Jagjit Singh braved the tragedy and continued
alone treating the listeners with gems like 'Hope',
'In Search', 'Insight',
Is Blind', 'Chirag'
and a few others. 'Sajda'
in collaboration with Lata Mangeshkar
was another brilliant release and made its mark as a classic Ghazal
album. All of these and others further consolidated his position
as the numero uno of Ghazal singing. The audience wanted more
and Jagjit Singh obliged with his Punjabi albums. Ebullient, effervescent
and bubbly, his Punjabi songs are pleasant as well as joyous.
Bollywood was more than smitten by
him and tracks of classics like 'Arth',
'Saath Saath' and 'Prem
Geet' bear witness to his calibre. The albums sell
like hot cakes even today. Apart from singing, Jagjit Singh composed
the music of a few films too. Ah, that reminds us of the splendid
music he composed for the TV serial, 'Mirza
Ghalib'. The sensitive poetry of Ghalib in Jagjit Singh's
voice assumed a new meaning. It would not be out of place to say
that till date if any artist has done true justice to Ghalib's
immortal poetry, arguably it is Jagjit Singh. The album stands
out as a magnum opus.
Like a true genius, Jagjit Singh did not restrict himself to Ghazals
and has also cut a few albums of Bhajans. 'Maa',
'Hare Krishna', 'Hey
Ram...Hey Ram', 'Ichhabal'
and also 'Man Jeetai Jagjeet'
in Punjabi, put him in the league of Bhajan singers that has a
restricted membership and the prominent members of which are Mukesh,
Hari Om Sharan, Yesudas,
Anup Jalota and Nitin
Mukesh. The soothing effect, his voice has on frayed nerves
has prompted psychiatrists in metros to prescribe them to stressed
Of late, there has been a clear shift in the mood of his Ghazals;
they have acquired a more soulful and poignant demeanour, as in
To Face' and the latest 'Aaeena'
'Cry For Cry'. But all through
this romance never took a backseat! The journey to the soul is
punctuated by romantic pauses like 'Dil
Kahin Hosh Kahin'. A testimony to his popularity is
his Ghazals in recent Bollywood flicks like 'Dushman',
'Sarfarosh' and 'Tarkieb'.
In addition to cultivating his own successful career, Jagjit Singh
has been involved in guiding many new talents such as Talat
Aziz and Vinod Sehgal. He
is also active in several philanthropic endeavors such as the
Library at St.Mary's, Bombay Hospital, CRY, and ALMA, an organization
whose focus is to adopt students for further education and development.
Jagjit Singh currently resides in Bombay, but does tour every
3 years or so with a talented group of Musicians from India.