People consider Jagjit Singh the most successful ghazal singer and composer of all time in terms of critical acclaim and commercial success. With a career spanning five decades and many albums, the range and breadth music critic regarded his work as genre-defining.
Jagjit Singh Early Life
- Jagjit Singh was born on February 8, 1941 in Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan.
- His father Sardar Amar Singh Dhiman was a surveyor with government’s public works department and hailed from Ropar in Punjab and mother Sardarni Bachchan Kaur was a housewife.
- His family raised him in a Sikh religion. He went to Khalsa High School in Sri Ganganagar and then studied science after matriculation at Government College Sri Ganganagar and went onto graduate in Arts at DAV College, Jalandhar.
- Since his childhood he was inclined to music. His father aspired for him to become a bureaucrat. However, he also encouraged Singh and his siblings to learn music.
- He learnt music under Pandit Chagganlal Sharma, and later devoted to learning Khayal, Thumri and Dhrupad forms of Indian Classical Music from Ustad Jamaal Khan.
Jagjit Singh Singing Career
- There he began his professional career in 1961 by undertaking singing and composing assignments at All India Radio’s (AIR) Jalandhar station.
- Later he did a post-graduation in history from Kurukshetra University in Haryana.
- He arrived in Mumbai in 1961 in search of better opportunities for being a musician and singer. He lived as a paying guest and his earlier assignments were singing advertisement jingles.
- Singh was first offered to sing in a Gujarati film, Dharati Na Chhoru produced by Suresh Amin.
- 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.
Jagjit Singh singing partner Chitra
- Jagjit met Chitra in 1967. At the time, Chitra was married and had a daughter. The marriage ended in divorce, although Chitra’s exhusband remained a family friend.
- Jagjit and Chitra married in December 1969. They epitomize the first successful husband-wife singing team. Successful releases of the duo include Ecstasies, A Sound Affair and Passions.
- Jagjit Singh also sang (as playback singer) for various songs in Bollywood films including Arth, Saath Saath, and Premgeet.
- Jagjit Singh was 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 album, Beyond Time (1987).
- The couple’s subsequent sung their last album Someone Somewhere.
Jagjit Singh Tragedy and Later Work
- The joint projects ceased in 1990 when their 20-year-old son, Vivek, was killed in a road accident. Chitra felt unable to sing following these events.
- Although Jagjit continued to work and to have success after Chitra withdrew from public life he, too, was affected by the death of Vivek.
- Aside from occupying himself with solo projects, which he performed in several languages.
- Movie maker used his ghazals in more recent Bollywood films like Dushman, Sarfarosh, Tum Bin and Tarkieb. Besides ghazals, Jagjit Singh has also sung bhajans and Gurbani (Hindu and Sikh devotional hymns respectively).
Jagjit Singh Awards and Death
- He won many awards including India’s third highest civilian award, Padma Bhushan (2003), Sahitya Kala Academy Award (1998, Rajasthan govt.) and Sangeet Natak Academy Award.
- He also won Ghalib Academy Award (2005), Dayavati Modi Award and D. Litt by Kurukshetra University (2003).
- He suffered a brain haemorrhage on 23 September 2011. He was in a coma for over two weeks and died on 10 October at Lilavati Hospital, in Mumbai. His family cremated him the following day at Chandanwadi Crematorium near Marine Lines in Mumbai.