Jagjit Singh: The Ghazal Maestro Who Touched Hearts with His Soulful Voice

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By Mohammad Shameem Khan

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Jagjit Singh, the legendary Indian ghazal singer, composer, and musician, left an indelible mark on the world of music with his mellifluous voice and heartfelt renditions. He was born on February 8, 1941, in Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan. Jagjit Singh’s journey from humble beginnings to becoming the “Ghazal King” is a testament to his unparalleled talent and dedication to his craft.

Singh’s musical journey began at a young age when he started learning classical music under the guidance of Ustad Jamal Khan. His training laid a strong foundation for his career, enabling him to master the intricacies of ragas and develop a unique style that seamlessly blended classical and contemporary elements.

In the early years of his career, Singh faced numerous challenges as he tried to establish himself in the competitive music industry. However, his perseverance and unwavering passion for music eventually led to his breakthrough with the album “The Unforgettables” in collaboration with his wife, Chitra Singh. The album was a critical and commercial success, catapulting Singh to fame and earning him widespread acclaim for his soul-stirring performances.

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Throughout his illustrious career, Jagjit Singh released numerous albums and singles that resonated deeply with audiences across the globe. His velvety voice, coupled with poignant lyrics and emotive melodies, made him a favorite among ghazal aficionados and music lovers alike. Gazals like Woh Kaghaz Ki Kashti, Shayad Main Zindagi Ki Sahar, Zindagi Tujh Ko Jiya Hai, Us Mod Se Shuroo Karen, Jis Mod Par Kiye The, Badi Haseen Raat Thi, Teri Ankhon Mein Hamne Kya Dekha, and La Pila De Sharab Ai Saqi, became timeless classics, etching Singh’s name in the annals of music history.

He highlighted this in his music for films such as Prem Geet (1981), Arth (1982), and Saath Saath (1982), and TV serials Mirza Ghalib (1988) and Kahkashan (1991).

Apart from his solo work, Jagjit Singh collaborated with several renowned artists and composers, enriching the music landscape with his collaborations. His ability to evoke profound emotions through his music earned him the title of “The King of Ghazals,” and his influence continues to inspire generations of musicians.

Beyond his musical accomplishments, Jagjit Singh was also known for his philanthropic endeavours and his efforts to promote Indian classical music. He supported various charitable causes and participated in numerous concerts and fundraisers to raise awareness and support for social issues.

In 1990, his son Vivek Singh died in a road accident at the age of 20. This was a profound shock to Jagjit and Chitra Singh. They stop singing for a full year after the death. Jagjit returned slowly to music after a year, but Chitra announced her retirement from music.

Singh had suffered from numerous health issues like diabetes and hypertension, and had undergone two heart bypass surgeries in 1998 and 2007.

Tragically, Jagjit Singh’s life was cut short when he passed away on October 10, 2011, leaving behind a legacy that continues to resonate with music lovers worldwide. His contributions to the world of music remain unparalleled, and his songs continue to evoke nostalgia and stir emotions in the hearts of listeners.

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Jagjit Singh was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the government of India in 2003 and in February 2014, the government released a set of two postal stamps in his honour.

On 10 May 2007, in the presence of numerous political and diplomatic luminaries at an event held in the Central Hall of the Parliament of India, Jagjit Singh rendered Bahadur Shah Zafar’s famous ghazal “Lagta nahin hai dil mera” to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

As we commemorate the birth anniversary of Jagjit Singh, let us celebrate his life and legacy, remembering him as not just a singer but as a maestro whose music transcended boundaries and touched the very soul of humanity. Though he may no longer be with us, his melodies will forever echo in the hearts of millions, ensuring that his legacy lives on for generations to come.

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