“Music is God gifted”

Sunny Dua
At a time when both Ghazal singers and listeners are finding themselves on the back seat of music world, son of soil (City of Temples- Jammu) Jitender Singh is making waves by singing original compositions and ruling the hearts of millions by his voice which he believes can be perfected only by persistent practice.
Born and brought up in Jammu, Jitendra’s journey into the music world had started when he was in school but he perfected the art only when he reached his Guru (Teacher) Pandit Mani Prasad of Kirana Gharana at Delhi.
Success for this renowned ghazal singer Jitender Singh Jamwal is when audience during any performance requests the singer to sing his/her own song or ghazal which when followed by thundering applause and showering of love becomes an acknowledgment for the hard work that had gone into making of an artist. Born and brought up in Jammu – City of Temples and trained in Indian classical vocal music, Jitender Singh is one such example who with his hard work has established himself as a ghazal singer par excellence.
He owns to his credit many performances, awards, recognitions and positions at national and international level. In an exclusive interview to Daily Excelsior, Jitender Singh said, “I practice singing every morning without any excuse which is a must for budding artists as well as an established performer. He loves Jammu as much as he loves music and never misses any opportunity to visit his birth place to meet his family, friends and also perform for his fans and admirers.
Having made a mark in the world of music especially in ghazal singing he has also given his voice to Dogri songs, jingles and bhajans besides given music in scores of films, TV serials, plays and dance dramas. He gives credit for his being a singer to his father who introduced him to the music and his teacher (Guru) Pandit Mani Prasad of Kirana Gharana. Keeping a pace with modern day technologies, he also has a great fan following on social sites including YouTube were ‘Shani Chalisa’ recited by him has crossed over five crore hits.
Bhajans, Shabads and Mantras recited by Jitender are so melodious that his voice has become a household name wherein his admirers play his audios at home during morning and evening prayer times. Ghazals though are a passé yet keep making rounds in every era, he said adding that music is innate and especially classical which can be refined only if it springs in any vocal cord. Born to Rajinder Singh Jamwal and Raj Rani, Jitender had an inclination towards music right from an early age.
Narrating his journey into the world of music, he said that all his family members are music lovers especially his father who wanted him to learn vocal formally. A strong believer in spirituality, Jitender said, “Music is God gifted art and one can only refine it for which a real Guru (teacher) is also needed. Institute of Music and Fine Arts, Jammu used to hire artists from outside the state when his father first sent him to learn Tabla in late 80s but this was not his cup of tea.
His real journey into the world of music started when he for the first time unleashed his talent/creativity at Jammu University and won accolades. He then represented Jammu University at inter university competition held at Akola, Maharashtra where he sang Log Behre Hai Inhe Dil Ki Sunayana Na Karo…Band Darwaazo Pe Awazen Lagaya Na Karo…(People are deaf, don’t open your heart to them….Stop knocking at the closed doors….) in light vocal category and won first prize. Written by Ashok Ambalvi, this very composition of Hari Krishan made Jitendra an instant hit amongst his friends and competitors.
Ever since then he never looked back. Fascinated by his scintillating performance at Akola and seeing depth in his voice, his friends like Sudershan asked Jitender to move to Delhi and learn music vigorously. Having sought a formal consent from parents and his passion drew him to Kathak Kendra near Mandi House where National School of Drama (NSD) is also located and is the hub of performing arts. This gave him an environment and he started practicing robustly by waking up at five every morning.
His first teacher in Delhi was Brijmohan Mishra, popularly known as Pandit Birju Maharaj who is an exponent of Handia (Rikhipur), Allahabad Kalka Bindadin Gharana of Kathak dance in India with whom he sang and travelled around the globe. Jitender during his prime time also got a job at Kathak Kendra, Delhi but left it to pursue his passion. Continuing his journey, he finally moved to Pandit Mani Prasad of Kirana Gharana who after a formal ritual of ‘Ganda Bandhan’ (A ceremony) adopted him as student (Shishya).
Jitender recalls that during initial years of his career, he for a brief time performed at private events and also directed music independently. This gave him an edge and he was able to execute title songs of about five hundred Tele-serials. “My journey was consistent as I was not in a hurry. To upkeep the ethics of music, I also declined offers to sing at not so desirable places and never compromised on my principles. I was put in the highest grade by All India Radio (AIR) about two decades ago and now I am a member of same committee that decided grades for artists”, he said adding that this could become possible by not getting deviating from the goal.
Asked about greatest challenge that he ever faced, he narrated, “Getting a teacher who enlightens you and brings out the best in you is one such challenge which I overcame by having Pandit Mani Prasad as my teacher. Music I believe is a God gifted art and is inbuilt. A good teacher explores that in you, sharpens it and then inspires you to take on the world”. Another challenge about two decades ago was to make yourself reach to right audience especially when there was no such exposure or medium that newcomers have today in the form of channels and social sites.
Recalling his best performances, Jitender Singh said, ” one stage performance at FICCI auditorium in Delhi where music icons like Suresh Wadekar and Kavita Krishna Murti were also performing people showered their love and made me sing more than my allotted time slot. Another one such performance was at Siri Fort Auditorium where I performed alongside ghazal singer Anoop Jalota, Bhupendra, Mitali and Hari Haran”.
Asked what he does off the stage that encourages him on stage, Jitender informed that consistent practice and living a simple life keeps him motivated all the time. Prayers, meditation and company of a chosen few friends besides family including his wife Kanika Ghosh Singh, an acclaimed Kathak Dancer are big support and good enough to keep him engaged off the stge.
Asked to give a message to youngsters or those who intend to take music as career, he said, ‘classical music is the base and parents must guide their wards well. No music is bad but instead of getting fascinated by anything that doesn’t build a strong foundation focus should be on learning classical music and practicing the same for hours. Finding a true Guru (Teacher) should be another task so that your ward doesn’t land up wasting his years’.
Expressing his concern over ghazal singing taking a back seat and depleting takers of this kind of music, he said it’s a phase that comes. Music keeps rotating and resurfacing. During the time when names like Jagjit Singh, Mahandi Hassan, Hari Prasad, Bhim Sen, Pandit Jasraj, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahib, Hari Haran and Madhu Rani used to sing another kind of music was being developed that never deterred their true admirers. They continue to rule the hearts of their admirers even today. It’s the duty of parents to feed right kind of music to their children and young generation so that they do not get deviated from basics.
Jitender Singh concluded saying, “voice is basic element of a song and every individual is gifted with a specific acoustic feature which segregates one from the rest. Irrespective of competition in the world of music one must concentrate on his/her own voice, practice consistently and then leave an everlasting impact on the listeners. That’s what music is all about!