Early last month, the late ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh’s wife, singer Chitra Singh announced the launch of an official album that features 12 of her husband’s last, unheard works. Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali, who paid tribute to the 70-year-old at a memorial concert in Mumbai last month, says he was delighted to hear the announcement.
“Jagjitji always sounded great. I haven’t heard any of the songs on this album yet, but I’m sure the ghazals will be as beautiful as ever,” says Ali, adding, “If possible, I’ll be the first one to buy this album once it’s out. I can never forget Jagjitji. It was an honour for me to be the first one to pay tribute to him at a concert attended by his entire family.”
Several months after the maestro’s demise, Ali, who is known for songs like ‘Para paara…’ remembers the last concert where he was expected to perform with Singh in Mumbai. “It was so sudden. I didn’t expect him to go away like this,” he says. “I was hoping that he would recover and we would perform together. It’s always an honour for anyone to share the stage with him. Today, when I pray for his soul and his family’s well-being, I also ask the almighty why he didn’t let us sing together for that one last time.”
The two singers first met in 1976 in London where Ali was to give a private performance. “Chitraji was with him. I didn’t expect him to be at my concert. He was a renowned man then, and I was just about getting there,” recalls the ghazal king, adding, “After the performance, he walked up to me and hugged me as if we were long lost brothers. Even today, when I’m performing at concerts and I’m requested to sing some of his best ghazals, either from the album where he recited Ghalib’s poetry or any other, I turn it down. I don’t think I can ever sing the way he did. There can never be another Jagjit Singh.”