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Jagjit Singh biography

Jagjit Singh

biography

Jagjit Singh
Jagjit Singh
Late Shri Jagjit Singh (8 February 1941 – 10 October 2011) was a great Indian ghazal singer. He gained acclaim together with his wife, another renowned Indian ghazal singer Chitra Singh, as the first ever successful duo (husband-wife) act in the history of recorded Indian music.
Together, they are considered to be the pioneers of the modern ghazal singing and regarded as the most successful recording artistes outside the realm of Indian film music. He sang in Punjabi language Punjabi (his mother tongue), Hindi, Urdu, Bengali language Bengali, Gujarati language Gujarati and Nepali language Nepali languages. He was awarded Padmabhushan in 2003, the third highest civilian honour, for his contribution to music by the Government of India. 
He is known to be the most successful ghazal singer of all time, in terms of both critical acclaim and commercial success, having made the genre synonymous with his name during a career spanning over four decades. He is the only composer and singer to have composed and recorded songs written by an incumbent Prime Minister - Atal Behari Vajpayee, also a critically acclaimed poet - in two albums, “Nayi Disha” (1999) and “Samvedna” (2002). He is also the first Indian composer, and together with his wife Chitra Singh, the first recording artist in the history of Indian music to use digital multi-track recording for their (India’s first digitally recorded) album, “Beyond Time” (1987). 

Early years and background

Jagjit Singh was born in Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan. His father, Amar Singh Dhiman, a government employee, was a native of the village of Dalla in Punjab (India)Punjab and his mother, Bachchan Kaur from Ottallan village, Samrala. He had four sisters and two brothers and he is known as Jeet by his family. He was raised as a Sikh.
He went to Khalsa High School in Sri Ganganagar and then studied science after matriculation at Government College (Sri Ganganagar)Government College, Sri Ganganagar and went onto DAV College, Jalandhar to graduate in arts. He is a post-graduate in history from Kurukshetra University.
Jagjit Singh’s association with music goes back to his childhood. He learnt music under Pandit Chaganlal Sharma for two years in Ganganagar, and later devoted six years to learning Khayal, Thumri and Dhrupad forms of Indian classical music from Ustad Jamaal Khan of the Sainia Gharana school.

career

He moved to Bombay in the year 1965 searching for better luck in the field of music. Any budding artist faces initial struggles and tribulations before finally making an indelible mark in the industry. He got assignments that were limited to performing at wedding functions and singing jingles for advertisements. Around 1970's, the world of ghazals was dominated by renowned names like Noor Jehan, Malika Pukhraj, Begum Akhtar, Talat Mahmood and Mehdi Hassan. Jagjit Singh made the efforts to come with his first album titled "The Unforgettables", which was a collection of semi-classical Indian music. The different melody and freshness in Jagjit's voice appealed to all and he was recognized by the industry. Though he was scorned by many critics, it did not deter him from carving a nice for himself. The album sold numerous copies and was a hit with listeners. 

movies

Jagjit Singh was first offered to sing in a Gujarati film. “Dharati Na Chhoru” produced by Suresh Amin, famously known by Jagjit Singh as “Jholi Vaaley Baba”: known so, because he carried a red shoulder bag wherever he went. Suresh Amin was from Baroda-Gujarat and was associated with Scad Consultants Pvt Ltd. When Suresh Amin died in 1998, Scad Consultants organized a live concert by Jagjit singh in December 1998 - Jagjit Singh paid a special tribute to Suresh Amin and dedicated the Scad Consultants Concert to Suresh Amin by singing the ghazal “Chitthi Na Koi Sandesh”.

fame

During 1970s, the art of ghazal singing was dominated by well-established names like Noor Jehan, Malika Pukhraj, Begum Akhtar, Talat Mahmood and Mehdi Hassan. However, he was able to make his mark and carve out a niche for himself. In 1976, his album “The Unforgettables” (On HMV LP Records) hit music stores. Essentially a ghazal album, its emphasis on melody and Jagjit’s fresh voice was a departure from the prevalent style of ghazal rendition, which was heavily based on classical and semi-classical Indian music. Skeptics had their own reservations, purists scorned it but it was widely successful among listeners and the album set new sales records.
In 1967, Jagjit met Chitra SinghChitra, also a singer. After a two year courtship they got married in 1969. They epitomize the first successful husband-wife singing team. Jagjit and Chitra Singh have made immense contributions to ghazal music and the Indian music industry in general.
Successful releases of the duo include “Ecstasies”, “A Sound Affair” and “Passions”. While these albums were breezy, “Beyond Time” released in the opening years of 1990s was an experimentation with sounds and conveyed a feeling that was beyond space and time. 
During the early 90's, they released an album named Beyond Time, which was an experimentation with different sounds and music. It conveyed a feeling that was beyond space and time and logical explanation. Sadly, around this time, their only son Vivek met with an accident and died at the young age of twenty one. It was a huge jolt for the couple and also all their fans and well wishers all over the world. After the album "Someone Somewhere", Chitra quit singing. The songs are emotionally very powerful and moving since they connect with the personal loss of the couple. 
Jagjit Singh’s later albums, including “Hope”, “In Search”, “Insight”, “Mirage”, “Visions”, “Kahkashan” (meaning “Galaxy”), “Love Is Blind”, “Chirag” (meaning “Lamp”/”Flame”) also achieved success. “Sajda” (an Urdu word meaning “prostration”), which has ghazals sung by Jagjit and Lata Mangeshkar. The combined successes of his many albums made him the number one ghazal singer in India. The audience wanted more and Jagjit Singh obliged with his Punjabi albums. His enchanting ghazals use the choicest poetry by renowned poets including Mirza Ghalib, Firaq Gorakhpuri, Qateel Shifai, Ameer Meenai, Kafeel Aazer, Sudarshan Faakir and Nida Fazli, and contemporary writers like Zaka Siddiqi, Nazir Bakri, Faiz Ratlami and Rajesh Reddy.
Jagjit also sang (as playback singer) for various songs in Bollywood films including “Arth”, “Saath Saath”, and “Premgeet” (all from 1980s). These scores remain popular even today. In fact, all the songs of film “Premgeet” were composed by Jagjit. His compositions for the TV serial “Mirza Ghalib” (based on the life of the poet Mirza Ghalib), remain extremely popular among ghazal aficionados. The exclusive element of Ghalib’s poetry was sensitively and wonderfully brought out in the soulful compositions of Ghalib’s ghazals by Jagjit Singh. The album could veritably be called a magnum opus.
Compared to his earlier ghazals (sung during 70s and 80s) his later ghazals have acquired a more soulful and poignant demeanour, as in albums such as “Marasim”, “Face To Face”, “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”, “Tum Bin” and “Tarkeeb”.
Most of the earlier albums of Jagjit Singh had English languageEnglish titles. Later, these had Urdu names like “Sahar” (meaning “Dawn”/”Morning”), “Muntazir” (meaning “In waiting”), “Marasim” (meaning “Relation”/”Relationship”/”Affinity” ), and “Soz” (meaning Pathos). The switchover may not be deliberate but marks a milestone in his singing. These new albums show a far better selection of lyrics and his singing has scaled new peaks.
Besides ghazals, Jagjit Singh also sang Bhajans and Gurbani (Hindu and Sikh devotional hymns respectively). Albums such as “Maa”, “Hare Krishna”, “Hey Ram… Hey Ram”, “Ichhabal” and also “Man Jeetai Jagjeet” in Punjabi languagePunjabi, put him in the league of Bhajan singers such as Mukesh (singer)Mukesh, Hari Om Sharan, Yesudas, Anup Jalota and Purushottam Das Jalota. The soothing effect that Jagjit’s voice has on frayed nerves has prompted psychiatrists in metros (as large cities in India are called) to prescribe them as stress relievers.

Influence

Jagjit Singh is accredited with bringing the ghazal genre, which was previously restricted to the elite classes, to the masses. His music direction can be seen to be pioneering in changing the sound layout by adding more Western instruments while mostly retaining the traditional orchestra (which includes a tablaa, dholak, bongos, sitar, sarod, santoor, flute, and harmonium, and a couple of string instruments. Jagjit Singh is also nicknamed Ghazaljeet Singh.
Jagjit Singh is accredited with finding many playback singers in Bollywood in modern times like Kumar Sanu, Abhijeet BhattacharyaAbhijeet, Talat Aziz.
Jagjit Singh voiced his opinion against artists from Pakistan being allowed to sing in India, when Pakistan refused to reciprocate the gesture.

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