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Monday, October 10, 2011

Ghazal King Jagjit Singh (1941-2011) No More!


Today, the 10th of October, 2011, 8.10am—the end of a momentous musical era. Indian Ghazal king Jagjit Singh breathed his last at a Mumbai hospital following a brain hemorrhage he suffered on September 23. He had been put on life supporting system and though there were signs of improvements in between death prevailed finally.

Jagjit Singh had a strong, soulful, filling and soothing voice supported by powerful melody that lingered in the auditorium and on the spellbound listeners. Along with his singer wife Chitra Singh Jagjit Singh created his own Ghazal genre that almost matched the popularity of the film music genre. His forays into playback singing and music direction for several mainstream Hindi movies and television serials heightened his music’s mass appeal even further. The singer-composer couple also created history in Indian music by using the first ever digital multi-track recording for their CD Beyond Time (1987)—India’s first digitally recorded album.

We did our school and college days getting to know his voice and his music. The Unforgettables (1975), the first Jagjit –Chitra Singh album to release in India and a huge commercial success—is still unforgettable and nostalgic for us. We came to love and grow with Ghazals thanks to Jagjit Singh. Ghazal, a complex and poetic musical form in Urdu language having its Arabic origins, had been simplified by Jagjit Singh with the inclusion of easy lyrics and modern musical instruments to increase its mass appeal. His commanding voice and infusion of melody revived an almost dying genre. Despite having the greats like Begum Akhter, Mehdi Hasan, Talat Mahmood and Ghulam Ali as contemporaries his music kept on growing more and more popular except for raising a few puritan and critical eyebrows initially.

Jagjit Singh had a sense of pain and melancholy in his voice that got more acute after his only son died in a tragic road accident in Mumbai in 1990. Though he fell silent for six months after the tragedy, this melancholy enriched his voice further making it more touching and appealing. He had left behind a huge body of work behind in a career spanning five decades and 80 albums. His concerts had been regular in different parts of India and abroad. He was to perform in Mumbai with Ghulam Ali on the day he was taken ill and hospitalized, never to return to stage ever.



We deeply mourn this great loss to Indian music and the Ghazal genre.


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