The lady with the mellifluous voice who sang some beautiful ghazals with her husband late Jagjit Singh, quit singing over two decades ago and turned rather reclusive, following a personal tragedy (her 21-year-old son died in a road accident).
But she is back in the world of music. No, she isn’t singing, but is putting toegther some unreleased songs of Jagjitji. Excerpts from an interview…
How did you plan on this?
These eight unreleased songs were collected by a friend who’s a great fan of Jagjitji, from various concerts over many years. I didn’t even know about it till he called me. When we heard the songs, we realised their sound quality wasn’t too good as they had been recorded at concerts. They had to be restored and it took a lot of time and effort.
In your tribute to Jagjitji, you say he was the one who introduced you to real music…
I have grown up with music. My mother was trained in classical music. I started singing from the age of five, but I was not formally trained. When I met Jagjitji I was introduced to a compltely different world of music. His songs are difficult to sing but they are easy on the ear. When you listen to his music, you don’t realise how difficult it is to sing. Somehow, I was lucky to have been able to blend with his style.
You quit singing many years ago. Any plans to return?
It’s too long a break. The voice is a very delicate mechanism. It’s not, switch on karlo toh chalu ho gaya. After a break of 22 years, I’m also 22 years older. It’s physically impossible. Even if I sit down for riyaaz every single day, it can’t come back. It may do so, but in a completely different way. It will not be the same Chitra Singh that one has heard and I definitely don’t want to spoil the memory that people have of me. Jo hai wohi yaad rakhe.
In the last few years, did you think of returning at any point?
Yes, I did, but maybe I was not meant to do music anymore. Every time I thought of singing, something or the other turned up and I couldn’t get back.
Jagjitji tried to coax you ever?
He respected my decision and left it to me. People would tell him that he should push me to sing, but he knew better.
People close to you talk about the strength you’ve shown with all that you’ve gone through in life…
I don’t think they mean it that way. What they probably mean is that I voice myself too strongly. They have hardly seen my strength otherwise or, what I have gone through, the way you put it. How many people have seen that side of me? Nobody has. People only know that she is a very strong-willed woman, calls a spade a spade.
You’ve kept a low profile all these years…
It wasn’t a deliberate effort. I’m just made like that. I was quite shy. I was never unfriendly. If I liked somebody or someone appealed to me, I was friendly. But yes, I have always been a private person. My husband was the opposite and that’s what made the contrast stark.
You are quite spiritual…
I get my inner strength from there. Another woman in my position and alone would have perhaps collapsed long back. I haven’t allowed myself that. I have my daughter’s children… they are my responsibility.