Jaswinder Singh to pay tribute to Ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh in Washington area concert

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Ghazal maestro Jaswinder Singh is flanked by his fans and well-wishers prior to his concert in the Washington area

“I put all my heart and soul when I sing. That is all I know” – Jaswinder Singh

By Geeta Goindi

Vienna, Virginia, April 2, 2012 – If you love great ghazals and melodious music, Washington area listeners are in for a real treat! Young and rising Indian ghazal maestro Jaswinder Singh will be paying a rich and heartfelt tribute to the legend Jagjit Singh, on Friday, at the Tysons Sheraton Premiere.

The upcoming concert, organized by Lavika Bhagat Singh and Vikram Kansal of One Entertainment, is already the talk of the town! Not surprising, given that there is always a demand and craving for great, authentic, uplifting music.

And music is in Jaswinder’s soul! In a wide-ranging interview with us, he said, “I put all my heart and soul when I sing. That is all I know”.

He emphasized, “There is a need to promote new ghazal singers. In every other genre, the new generation has come. In ghazals, it is time for a transformation”!

A devoted son with an excellent upbringing, possessing solid values, Jaswinder is eternally grateful for being so ably guided by his father, Mr Kuldip Singh, a gifted music director in his own right who has composed scores for such timeless numbers as “Tum ko dekha tho yeh khayaal aaya” (Saath Saath) and “Itni shakti hame dena daata” (Ankush).

Under his father’s tutelage, he has made singing his full-time career. “I only sing. I don’t know anything else besides music. Music is my bread and butter. Music is for my soul”, he told us.

Read on for details of our tete-a-tete with the most promising young ghazal maestro today…

GG: We are looking forward to welcoming you to Washington! Can you tell our readers about your current tour?
JS: My US tour started on March 14 and will run until April 22. We will be covering 14 cities. The Washington show is on April 6. This is my first solo concert tour, but the third time I will be performing in the US. Earlier, I was part of a musical play with Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar, ‘Kaifi Aur Main’. We did 12 shows in the US, including Washington. I’m very excited and looking forward to the DC concert because I know that DC has a very receptive audience. People are very good listeners. I’m sure it’s going to be a very melodious and entertaining event.

At the time of our interview, Jaswinder was elated by the response to his concert in Chicago where some 800 fans immensely enjoyed his performance. We queried him about the response to his shows.
JS: I’m getting a very good response. People are loving it! Everything is going very well. There will be another show in Chicago … I would like to mention that I have a set of very talented musicians. So, when we perform, you will enjoy the music.

GG: Tell us about your albums, ‘Ishq Nahin Aasan’, ‘Yours Truly’, ‘Dilkash’…
JS: I represent the younger generation of ghazal singers. All my songs, my albums, are very simple! They have a simple melody and they are all very romantic. I promote love; I promote ‘Ishq’; I promote ‘mohabbat’. That is the message I am conveying. I personally feel that there is only one thing that is fading away in our lives, and that is love. Once we have love in our hearts, in ourselves, for fellow human-beings, then the world will be a peaceful place. I always mention this ‘sher’ (poem) of Jigar Muradabadi: “Unka jo kaam hai, Ahal-e-Siyasat woh jaane, mera paigam hai mohabbat, jaha tak pahunche”. We have come with a message of love. That is the message conveyed by all my albums.

GG: It is only appropriate then that your concert is titled ‘Ishq 2012′.
JS: It is obvious that most of the ghazals which I will be singing are connected to love. I will sing from the heart and I’m sure it will touch the heart!

GG: Do you feel that there is a sizeable audience for ghazals here in the west?
JS: Yes, of course. There is a huge audience of ghazal lovers in the US. I personally feel that people are craving for good music, good poetry. We had a sold-out show in Chicago. We had an extremely receptive audience. The concert went on for about four-and-a-half hours. People enjoyed the ghazals and sent me farmaish (request). I’m sure that you will agree that there is a vacuum in ghazals now after Jagjit ji’s death. There are hardly three or four ghazal singers who are our seniors. I’m trying to fill that vacuum. I represent the younger generation of ghazal singers. I’m working very hard and I’m hoping that I get love, support and blessings from everyone!

GG: Your concert is being billed as a tribute to the ghazal legend Jagjit Singh. How have you been associated with him?
JS: When I started learning music, when I decided that I have to sing ghazals, my father, Mr. Kuldip Singh, who is my first guru, suggested that I should meet the ‘Badshah’ (king) of ghazals, Jagjit ji. He told me to spend some time with him, get some guidance and tips from him. So, for nearly 4-5 years, almost every alternate day, I used to be at his home from 10:00 a.m. to about 4:00 p.m. Jagjit ji, Chitra ji and I would practice the ‘palta’, ‘sargam’, ‘alaap’. Jagjit ji always told me, ‘Jaswinder, you are very talented. You have an extremely melodious voice. You have to do one thing in life – make your own way, make your own style. Whether you sing your own ghazals or mine or anybody else’s, always sing in your own style. Put your own emotions, improvisations in that ghazal so it sounds as if you are singing your own ghazal. You should not sound like a copycat’. That is what I have learnt from him. Jagjit ji was a great performer, besides being a great singer. I have learnt those nuances from him by observing him. When you hear me live at my concert, you will see how I perform. I try to entertain my audience with my music, with my poetry, with my songs. I don’t know how I sing. That is for you to decide.

GG: So, the concert will feature more than ghazals?
JS: Basically, if you go to any ghazal concert, by Jagjit Singh or Ghulam Ali, people expect you to sing a few ‘geet’ (songs) also. Jagjit ji used to sing a lot of Punjabi songs which were extremely popular. People would demand Punjabi songs. So, I being a Punjabi, I’m a Sardarji, do you think that people are going to leave me without singing Punjabi songs? Mostly, I will be singing all my hit ghazals, all the romantic ghazals from my CDs, and then I will be singing a few of Jagjit ji’s hits, and also some Punjabi songs. The evening will be very melodious and very entertaining. In Chicago and other cities, people had a gala time. They enjoyed the evening, they enjoyed the music and they danced. In Chicago, we had to stop the concert, otherwise it would have gone on for 5 or 6 hours.

GG: How did it feel to be awarded the title of ‘The Young Ghazal Maestro’ by the Indian Music Academy and presented by Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia in the presence of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, President of India at the time?
JS: For me, it was a great honor to get this title from living legends, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pandit Jasraj, who are like Gods in music. They gave me this award in front of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam who was the President at that time. I feel my responsibility has increased. People have a lot of expectations from me.

GG: Any plans for Bollywood?
JS: Yes. Of course. Jagjit ji, Pankaj Udhas, have sung ghazals and geet in Bollywood. That’s a great medium to promote ghazals. If I get such songs, I would definitely love to sing. It’s been a very rough path, a rough way. I had to struggle very hard. I have been working very hard. Singing ghazals is not easy. My album is called ‘Ishq Nahin Aasan’. The lyrics of the title song are: “Yeh Ishq nahin aasan, bas itna samajh lijiye, Ik aag ka dariya hai aur doob ke jaana hai”. It is a very symbolic statement. You have to sink and then rise. I am working very hard and I need the support and blessings and good wishes of everyone!

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At a press conference with India’s promising young ghazal maestro Jaswinder Singh, in Tysons Corner, Virginia, are seen from left to right: Karl Kalra, national promoter of the concert tour titled ‘Ishq 2012′; Jaswinder Singh; Lavika Bhagat Singh and Vikram Kansal, co-promoters and co-organizers of the Washington show
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