When in 2012 he talked about high heels and Bobbi Brown make-up in his Punjabi song High Heels, composed by Yo Yo Honey Singh, no one expected singer Jaz Dhami to pay a tribute to the Punjabi language in his 2013 track, Meh Punjabi Boli. But the, the Birmingham boy is full of surprises.
In the city on Friday at the launch of Now That’s What I Call Desi, a compilation of songs by Universal Music that has Jaz’s 2014 track Zulfa in the lead, the singer shared aspects about his lesser known persona.
In India, Jaz has so far been a part of successful collaborations. Apart from High Heels, in which Yo Yo Honey Singh also rapped, Jaz’s latest — Zulfa — sees him tie up with music producer Dr Zeus. Though happy with his foray, the young singer says he was uncertain if his kind of music would be appreciated here, despite the fact that he was already popular in the UK.
“Before High Heels came out, I wasn’t sure if there would be an appetite for my kind of music here. In the UK, besides my debut single Sadi Jind Jaan with Aman Hayer (2008), my debut album, JD, comprised successful tracks such as Theke Wali, Tera Mera and Bari Der. Here, I think it was my collaboration with Honey Singh that played a key role in conjoining our fan base.
Similar was the case with Zulfa,” says Jaz, born Jaswinder Singh Dhami in the UK, who traces his roots to Sindhran, district Hoshiarpur. “My father was a struggling singer in a Punjabi band in the UK, but he wanted me to excel as a singer. So, he introduced me to classical singing.
Apart from a degree in classical music and a diploma in popular music and sound technology from the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, UK, I undertook lessons in classical music from Panjab University, Chandigarh,” he says. While his work has been appreciated, Jaz is certain he doesn’t want to try his hand at acting.
“I only see myself as an international star. In the future, I hope to make the Khans lip sync to my songs,” says Jaz, also a football coach and a part of various campaigns such as Search for an Asian Star campaign by the Chelsea Football Club and Back the Birmingham Bid for the 2018 World Cup. He has played a crucial role in encouraging Asians in the UK to get into football, as he tells us, “For the very first time, a 10-year-old Asian has managed to be a part of the Liverpool Football Club.” Next on his cards is a single with rapper Badshah, a collaboration with American rap star French Montana and an upcoming album.