Jagjit Singh was a ghazal singer. He was also a song writer and musician, composer activist and entrepreneur. He is known as “the Ghazal King” of India.
He is the most successful ghazal singer and composer of all times. His song “Hotho se cho lo tum” from the film “Prem Geet” was a blockbuster hit. Together his wife Chitra Singh he composed classic ghazals and gained international acclaim.
The government of India awarded him with the Padma Bhushan in 2003. He was awarded the Sahitya Academi Award in 1998 for popularizing the world of Mirza Ghalib.He was the recipient of the Sangeet Natak Academi Award.
Jagjit Singh was born on February 8, 1941 at Sri Ganganagar in Rajasthan. He was born to Amar Singh Dhiman and Bachan Kaur.
He was born as Jagmohan Singh but was later christened Jagjit Singh. He was educated at Khalsa High School and Sri Ganganagar Government College.
He obtained arts degree from DAV College at Jalandghar. He did his post graduation from Kurukshetra University in history. Jagjit Singh learnt music from Pt Chaganlal Sharma and Ustad Jamaal Khan.
He was married to Chitra Singh who is also a singer and was unhappily married with a daughter before meeting Jagjit Singh. She divorced her earlier husband and got married to Jagjit Singh in 1969.
They had a son named Vivek, who died in a road accident in 1990, and not been able to cope up with the tragedy, Chitra gave up singing after Vivek’s death. Chitra’s daughter from her first marriage Monica also committed suicide.
Jagjit Singh suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on September 23, 2011. He was due to perform with Ghulam Ali in Mumbai when he suffered the hemorrhage. He was in coma for over two weeks. He died on October 10, 2011 at Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai.
The era 1970s and the 80s was a milestone in the career of the singing couple. Their combination album comprising music from the film “Arth” and “Sath Sath’ is HMV’s largest selling combination album of all times. His magnum opus album “Sajda’ with Lata Mangeshkar holds the same record in the non film category.
Jagjit is known for modern approach and infusion of technology in the traditional art of ghazal singing. He was the first Indian music director to use the technique of multi track recording for his album “Beyond Time”. He was the man behind making the ghazal genre understandable to all sections of the society.
Prior to Jagjit Singh, ghazal singing was considered as an elite art, which was difficult for the common mass to understand due to its high class Urdu and Persian. He broke the myth by coming up with the ghazals “Kagaz ki kashti”, “Chak jigar ke”, “Kal chaudvi ki raat thi” and “Sham se ankh me nami si he”. He is credited with the revival and popularity of the ghazal singing genre.
He chose poetry that was relevant to the masses and they could understand. In terms of the Indian classical music his style of composing songs is called “bol pradhan’ that laid emphasis on words.
The ghazal music genre was earlier dominated by Muslim artistes and those belonging to Pakistan. He is known for mixing the words of legends like Ghalib, Quatil Shifai, Firaq Gorakhpuri, Nida Fazli and Sudarshan Faakir with melodious indigenous tunes. He had sung in several Indian languages including Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Nepali and Bengali.
He entered the filed of playback singing with the films like “prem geet”, and went on to sing classic songs for the film such as “Arth , “Sath sath”, “Bhavna”, “Dushman”, “Sarfarosh”, “Tarkeib”, “Tum Bin”, “Leela”, “Jogger’s park, “”, “Pinjar”. For the film “prem geet”, he composed the music of all the songs. His song “Hotho se cho lo tum” from the film “Prem Geet” was a blockbuster hit.
He also composed for the TV serial “Mirza Ghalib” and “Kahkashan”His magnum opus album was “Sajda’ with Lata Mangeshkar. On May 10, 2007 at the Central hall of the Parliament of India he rendered Bahadur Shah Zafar’s famous ghazal “lagta nahi he dil mera” to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Indian rebellion of 1857.
With the death of his son in a road accident in 1990 Jagjit suffered from depression and his anguish was evident in his live performances. He is the only composer and singer to have composed and recorded songs written by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Bajpayee in two albums “Nayi Disha” and “Samvedna”.
The classic albums of the ghazal maestro are “Live in Concert at Wembley”, “Come alive”, “Ecstacies”, “Aaeena”, “A Journey”, “A Milestone”, “A Sound affair”, “Beyond time”, “Magic moments”, “Cry for cry”, “Desires”, “different strokes”, “Echoes”, “Emotion”, “Encore”, “Marasim”, “Mirage”, “face to face”, “Forget me not”, “Forever”, “Harmony”, “Hope”, “In Search”, “In Sight”, “Samvedna”, “Sajda”, “Saher”, “Romance”, “passions”, “Khwahish”, “Together”, “Soz”, “Someone somewhere”, “Silsiley” and so forth. Jagjit Singh has innumerable albums to his repute that are considered his classic Jagjit Singhghazals.“baat niklegi to fir”, Hotho se cho lo tum” “Jhuki jhuki si najar”, “koi ye kese bataye”, “tum itna jo muskura rahe ho”, “pyar mujhse jo kiya tumne”, “Tum ko dekha”, “Ye tera ghar ye mera ghar”, “mere dil me”, “Chitthi na koi sandes”, “Hosh walo khabar”, “Kiska Chehra”, “Koi Faryad”, “Jag Ke kati”, “Badi najuk”, “hath chute”, “admi admi ko kya dega”, “Aah ko chahiye”, “aap ko dekhkar”, “salam karta chalu”, “chitthi na koi”, “ye daulat bhi le lo”, “uski hasrat”, “sadma to hai mujhe bhi”, “dile nadan tujhe”, “sunte he ki mil jati”, “tere ane ki jab”, “dil hi to he”, “kisko qatil me”, “gham ka khajana”, “tujhse milne ki”, “koi dost he”, “hath chute”, “ek parwaj”, “badi najuk”, “ek purana mausam”, “aap ko dekhkar”, “e khuda ret ke”,“jhuki jhuki si najar”, “tum nahi gham nahi”, “dunia jise”, “salam karta chalu”, “hum to he pardes”, “me nashe me hu”, “tera chehra kitna suhana”, “chitthi na koi sandes” and so forth.
The government of India awarded him with the Padma Bhushan in 2003. He was awarded the Sahitya Academi Award in 1998 for popularizing the world of Mirza Ghalib.
He was the recipient of the Sangeet Natak Academi Award. He was awarded the Sahitya Kala Academi Award by the Rajasthan government in 1998. The Madhya Pradesh government awarded him the Lata Mangeshkar Samman in 1998.
Jagjit Singh started his singing career by performing on radio and stage shows. He also worked as a playback singer. He is the most successful ghazal singer and composer of all times. He started his work in the film industry as a singer in advertising jingles.
His first film role was in “Dharati na Chhoru”. He together with his wife Chitra Singh gained international acclaim. They performed as duets. With the release of the album “The Unforgettable” they found significant success. The album gave them stardom.
The song “baat niklegi” from the album turned a milestone in Jagjit’s career. The main aspect of the album is the use of simple poems and fusion of the Indian and the western music.
Their album “Ecstasies” is also described as their finest album. With Chitra Singh he worked on solo and joint musical projects. They also performed at concerts worldwide.