Ghazal Singer Jagjit Singh (8 February 1941 – 10 October 2011).
Jagjit Singh was of Namdhari background. He was born at Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan, India into a Ramgarhia Sikh family. His father, Sardar Amar Singh Dhiman, was a surveyor with the government’s Public Works’ Department and hailed from village Dalla in Ropar district of Punjab. Jagjit’s mother, Bachchan Kaur, was a devoted housewife who was raised in a deeply religious Namdhari family in Ottallan village near Samrala bhaini sahib in Ludhiana district, Punjab.
His family had close links with Satguru Jagjit Singh Ji, Sri Jivan Nagar and Sri Bhaini Sahib where he was a frequent visitor. In his younger days Jagjit Singh used dress in Namdhari attire including ‘seedee’ dastar when he visited Sri Bhaini Sahib. Ustad Harbhajan Singh Ji recalls that once when in Sri Bhaini Sahib, he (Ustad Ji) was not well, Satguru Ji came to see him and Patshah ji told him that ‘Jagjit came to see me today! ‘
Along with Ustad Harbhajan Singh, Avtar Singh (tabla player) and others, Jagjit Singh used to learn at Sri Bhaini Sahib and Sri Jivan Nagar. After Jagjit Singh rose to fame, he settled in Mumbai. When ever Patshah Ji went to Mumbai , He would send sikhs to call on Jagjit Singh – such is Satguru Ji’s love for the great singer. In 1976 at a Sangeet Samellan where Patshah Ji performed the opening ceremony, Ustad Harbhajan Singh and Ustad Gurdev Singh took along Jagjit Singh to seek blessing from Satguru Ji. To cap it all, the ghazal maestro was named JAGMOHAN SINGH after his birth. Soon after MATA JIVAN KAUR Ji made a visit to their home. Mata Ji told his mother to change his name to JAGJIT SINGH as he would conquer the world. How true was this prophecy. Dhan Mata Jivan Kaur Ji.
Singh is considered to be the most successful ghazal singer and composer of all time in terms of critical acclaim and commercial success. With a career spanning five decades and many albums, the range and breadth of his work has been regarded as genre-defining.
Jagjit Singh’s 1987 album, Beyond Time, was the first digitally recorded release in India. He was regarded as one of India’s most influential artists. With sitar player Ravi Shankar and other leading figures of Indian classical music and literature, Singh voiced his concerns over politicisation of arts and culture in India and lack of support experienced by the practitioners of India’s traditional art forms, particularly folk artists and musicians. He lent active support to several philanthropic endeavours such as the library at St. Mary’s School, Mumbai, Bombay Hospital, CRY, Save the Children and ALMA.
Jagjit Singh was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 2003 and in February 2014, the government released a set of two postal stamps in his honour.