Fans across the globe are mourning the death of ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh on Monday. The velvet-voiced singer is widely credited for reviving the popularity of classical Hindustani love songs in Urdu (known as ghazals).
Singh was admitted to Mumbai's Lilavati Hospital on Sept. 23 and died on Monday of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 70.
His last public performance was on Sept. 20 in Dehradun.
During his illustrious career, which spanned four decades, Singh produced dozens of albums and performed hundreds of performances in India, Pakistan, and across the globe.
Singh was born in Ganganagar, then in Rajputana in British India. His father Sadar Amar Singh Dhiman, employed with the Government of India, hailed from Dalla village in Ropar district of Punjab and his mother, Bachchan Kaur, came from a deeply religious Sikh family of Ottalan village near Samralla.
He had four sisters and two brothers and was called Jeet by his family.
Singh was raised as a Sikh by religion. His birth name was Jagmohan, however his Sikh father rechristened him as Jagjit following the advice of his guru.
Singh rose to fame in the 1970s with his fresh voice and unique take on the art of ghazal singing. His 1976 album, The Unforgettables set new sales records and heralded the rise of a new star.
Singh is credited with bringing the ghazal genre, which was previously restricted to the elite classes, to the masses. He added more Western instruments while retaining the traditional orchestra (including a tablaa, harmonium, and various string instruments).
Singing in Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, and Gujarati, Singh cut more than 40 private albums and sang for innumerable Bollywood films.
In his later life, Singh lamented that the devotion and practice were disappearing from music and that the younger generation 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 a good singer. One should learn music for 15 years before actually trying their hands at singing ghazals, Singh told Hindustan Times.
In 2003, Singh was awarded the Padma Bhushan, one of India's highest civilian honors, from the Government of India.
India's minister for information and broadcasting, Ambika Soni, in her condolence message, said his death Monday had left a void that would be difficult to fill.
The pain and melancholy in his voice was a catharsis for many a lonely heart.
Thanks for lullabying my pain Mr Jagjit Singh, rest in musical peace. Your voice epitomises my childhood sweet pain and innocent fantasies, a Facebook user wrote in his tribute to the maestro.
God bless you dear Jagjeet. I am from Afghanistan and I always enjoy ur songs as much as an Indian does. You will never die. You will remain in fans hearts always. A diamond can't lose his shine by throwing it on the Ganga or buried it underground! another Facebook user writes.
The headlines across India say it all:
The king is dead, long live the voice - The Hindu
A tearful adieu to Jagjit Singh - Hindustan Times
Ghazal's golden voice falls silent - The Times of India
When the ghazal lost its king - Jagjit Singh - The Daily News & Analysis
Uski aawaaz mein chain hai, (In his voice, there is peace), popular lyricist Javed Akhtar wrote in the Hindustan Times. That's what Jagjit's friends, followers and fans felt whenever they heard his voice, and that list includes me, as well.
The demise of Jagjit Ji is possibly the saddest moment for music industry across the world, pop singer Daler Mehndi wrote in The Times of India. Rendering Urdu poems by Ghalib with such a consummate ease and effortlessness, he made ghazals accessible to the common man and brought a new meaning to the genre. His ghazals did not require the listener to understand the nuances of ghazal singing, as his words and mellifluous voice carried magic to directly touch the chords of your heart.
For a wonderful sampling of Singh's long career, check out Sundeep Dougal's blog for Outlook India.