PM condoles Jagjit Singh’s Death

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today condoled the demise of noted ghazal singer Jagjit Singh, saying he would be remembered for his “golden voice”.

Noting that he is among Jagjit`s admirers, the Prime Minister said he shared the sorrow of his fans.

In his condolence message, Singh said by “making ghazals accessible to everyone, he gave joy and pleasure to millions of music lovers in India and abroad….he was blessed with a golden voice”.

The Prime Minister said the ghazal maestro`s music legacy will continue to “enchant and entertain” the people.

Jagjit Singh (70) passed away this morning at Lilavati hospital in Mumbai.

Singh was of the view that music was for inspiration and not for competition. “The moment one brings competition into music, the soul is lost.”

He had regretted the fact that devotion and practice were disappearing from music at a time when everyone was running after instant fame.

“Music is a vast subject. There is mathematics and grammar in music. Unless one knows all of it, he cannot become good singer. One should learn music for 15 years before actually trying their hands at singing ghazals,” he had said.

Among his most memorable numbers were ‘Tum itna jo muskara rahe ho’, ‘Apni Marzi Se Kahan Apne Safar Ke Hum Hain’ and ‘Pehle Har Cheez Thi Apni Magar Ab Lagta Hai Apne Hi Ghar Mein Kisi Doosre Ghar Ke Hum Hain’.

His last concert was planned with Ghulam Ali on September 23 at Shanmukhananda Hall, Matunga, in Mumbai but was cancelled after he was taken ill the same day. The duo had given a stirring performance days ago in Delhi.

Singh began his musical journey singing ‘shabads’ or devotional songs in gurudwaras. He studied in DAV College, Jalandhar where his fee was waived because of his voice. He got a chance as professional singer in Jalandhar’s All India Radio station, which offered him six live music segments a year for small payments.

But success was a faraway dream for the singer, who came to Mumbai in 1961 to try his luck in playback singing but after some failed attempts, a dispirited Singh returned to Jalandhar.

Not one to give up, the ghazal maestro decided to give himself another chance and returned to the city of dreams in 1965. Singh managed to get two of his ghazals recorded with HMV. This was also the time when he decided to do away with his turban and hair.

However, playback singing continued to elude him and he earned by composing jingle, ad films and documentaries. He met his wife Chitra during one such recording and after two years, they decided to marry in 1970, which was also a turning point in his career.

Bollywood’s loss was ghazal’s gain, as Jagjit’s fresh voice infused a new life into the dying genre, which was confined to select admirers. In 1975, HMV asked Jagjit to compose his first ever LP album ‘The Unforgettables’. The album featured Jagjit-Chitra ghazals, which were completely different.

Singh is also credited with introducing modern instruments along with traditional sarangi and tabla in ghazals.

The next album Singh recorded was the Punjabi ‘Birha Da Sultan’, poems of Shiv Kumar Batalvi, which continue to be popular even today. Jagjit and Chitra then composed and sang the first-ever double album “Come Alive”. Two more double albums “Live at Wembley” and “Live at Royal Albert Hall”, recorded in concert, followed in 1979 and 1982. Soon the couple were busy doing sold-out concerts.

Movie success too followed. In 1980, Jagjit gave his voice to Javed Akhtar’s poetry in film “Saath Saath”. Mahesh Bhatt’s “Arth”, which came in the same year saw Jagjit and Chitra’s popularity sky rocket with evergreen numbers like ‘Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho’.

In 1987, Jagjit recorded “Beyond Time”, the first digital CD by an Indian musician. Another milestone was to follow when he was roped in to record and compose Gulzar’s epic TV serial, “Mirza”.

But while he was climbing new heights in his professional life, the singer suffered his life’s biggest tragedy when he and Chitra lost their only son — 18-year-old Vivek — in a car accident in 1990.

The tragedy brought desperation and a pause in their lives. Chitra lost her voice and never returned to stage or a recording studio but Jagjit battled on his depression. “Man Jite Jagjit”, containing Sikh devotional Gurbani, was the first album he recorded after his son’s demise.

The Padmabhushan awardee is also the only composer and singer to have composed and recorded songs written by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in two albums, ‘Nayi Disha’ (1999) and ‘Samvedna’ (2002).

He was planning team up with Gulzar again after the success of ‘Mirza Ghalib’ for an album based on the letters and poems of the 18th century poet.

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