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  • Jagjit Singh – a tribute

    by guest
    16th October, 2011 at 5:51 pm    

    This is a guest post by Parvinder Singh.

    The music legend Jagjit Singh sadly passed away on Monday in the Indian city of Mumbai. He was 70 years of age and had died of a brain hemorrhage. Like myself, millions had grown up with his music and songs. Many of them he had earlier sung with his beautiful and talented wife, Chitra Singh. Over the years though, the couple have had to endure horrific tragedies, particularly in relation to the deaths of their son and daughter. That pain and loss would cast a shadow on much of Singh’s compositions.

    Years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Jagjit Singh perform live in London and was immediately captivated by his soft and warm voice and his take on the Ghazal, the musically form of Urdu ‘shayari’ or poetry. Without realising it, he had brought alive the words of the 19th Century poet Mirza Ghalib like no one before him. Such was his impression on me then, that I began to learn to read the Urdu script so to understand fully what was being said.

    Yet Jagjit Singh was no ordinary singer from the subcontinent. He crossed borders and faiths in his quest to bring poetry to ordinary folk. From the Urdu verse and the Punjabi poetry of Shiv Kumar Batalvi, to the Punjabi Tappe, Hindu Bhajans and Sikh Shabads. Before his untimely death, he was in the middle of a tour with renowned Pakistani ghazal legend, Ghulam Ali.

    These are just a few of Jagjit Singh’s gems:

    Woh kagaz ki kashti, Woh baarish ka paani (That little paper boat, that water from the rain)

    Hazaran khwahisen aisi, ke har khwahish pe dam nikle (a thousand desires, each of which could consume my life)

    Tum itna jo muskara rahe ho, kyaa gham hai jisako, chuupaa rahe ho (you are smiling so much, what is the sorrow you are hiding?)

    Hoto se chulo tum, meraa geet amar kardo (touch my song with your lips, make it immortal)

    The music world may have lost such a gifted artist, but his soft, heart warming voice will live in the albums and concerts and in our hearts, forever.

                  Post to

    Filed in: Culture,Hindu,India,Muslim,Pakistan,Sikh

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    7. India: A Tribute To Jagjit Singh · Global Voices

      [...] Parvinder Singh pays a tribute to the Indian Ghazal music legend Jagjit Singh and shares how his music crossed borders and faiths. Tweet [...]

    1. Kismet Hardy — on 17th October, 2011 at 2:39 pm  

      I’m sure the guy was a phenomenal singer, just like Steve Jobs was born a Muslim and was a great businessman, and it’s sad musicians and entrepreneurs die and stuff, but how is this politics?

      I don’t get this site anymore :-(

    2. Optimist — on 17th October, 2011 at 3:42 pm  

      Kismet -

      Its politics because he was a very political person, as we all are. But he was the right sort of political person because he spent all his life trying to bring people together, regardless of race, class or religion.

      He was a tremendous force of unity in India as when the RSS and other Hindu nationalists were trying to incite hatred against the Muslims and they were even planning to destroy the Taj Mahal and were saying that it was a Muslim symbol, he gave prominence to the ghazals “originally consisted of songs based on Persian poetry combined with North Indian classical music influences during India’s medieval era (especially the Mughal period), heavily influenced by Sufi Islam.”

      The above is quoted from an excellent article written by Jai in PP a few months ago when Jagjit Singh was in this country and he gave his support to the ‘Sikhs Against the EDL’, another very political act.

      No wonder that there are masses of tributes to him on the internet from the Muslim world.

      He was also a great singer, one of the best in my opinion and would be greatly missed.

    3. Optimist — on 17th October, 2011 at 4:00 pm  

      Kismet -

      I don’t know where you got from that he “was born a Muslim”. The following link says he was born a Sikh.

      “Jagjit Singh was born in Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan[6] to Amar Singh Dhiman, a government employee, a native of Dalla village in Punjab and his mother, Bachan Kaur from Ottallan village, Samrala in a house that was known as Pat Ram Ki Chhikari (cluster of six houses). He had four sisters and two brothers and he was known as Jeet by his family. He was raised as a Sikh by religion.”

    4. Jai — on 17th October, 2011 at 7:35 pm  

      Parvinder Singh,

      Thank you for writing this very heartfelt article; I was aware that the great Jagjit Singh recently passed away but I didn’t write an article about it as I already intended to mention him in my impending Diwali article for PP.

      By the way, if you’re a fan of Mirza Ghalib (as am I) then you’ll find William Dalrymple’s book “The Last Mughal” very interesting reading. Ghalib is discussed in considerable detail and there are plenty of anecdotes and extracts from his letters & poetry which help to bring him to life and shed further light on his personality. I see that the Telegraph article you’ve linked to in your own article also mentions Jagjit Singh’s live performance of a ghazal based on the poetry of Ghalib’s patron and close friend, the Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, in India’s Parliament in 2007.

      I’m a huge fan of Jagjit Singh myself and have also been lucky enough to have seen him perform live here in the UK. As you said, at least we still have the memories, the music, and numerous video clips of his wonderful concerts. A part of Jagjit Singh will always live on, in that sense.

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