Her journey from Mintgumri in Pakistan to India has been melodious throughout. Classical and ghazal singer Pamela Singh, who is in Chandigarh to perform at Sham-e-ghazal, an event dedicated to iconic singer Begum Akhtar and organised by Pracheen Kala Kendra, talks about her beginnings in the realm of music.
Born in 1944, Pamela’s neighbour in her home in Pakistan was Malika Pukhraj, a renowned Pakistani ghazal and folk singer, who had sung the popular nazam, Abhi Toh Mai Jawan Hoon. “Her nazam keeps me young,” smiles Pamela, who is a postgraduate in vocal music from Post Graduate Government College for Girls, Sector 11, Chandigarh, from where she retired as the head of the department of music in 2002.
Pamela recalls her interaction with India’s ‘ghazal king’ Jagjit Singh, whom she considers a dear friend and guide. “When I was pursuing graduation from Government College for Women in Ludhiana, I became interested in music. That was the time I met Jagjit, who used to travel from Jalandhar to perform. I remember requesting him to teach me his style of singing ghazals. But after two classes, he said, ‘Pam you cannot use my style as you are inspired by Begum Akhtar.’ I have known Jagjit since the time he wore a turban and had a beard. He also introduced me to Chitra (Singh, his wife), during one of his performances in Chandigarh. Those were beautiful days and I must say his death is a loss to the music industry,” she sighs.
While studying, Pamela also became a part of a theatre group in 1985, called The Company and which was headed by Neelam Mansingh Chowdhary. The experience gave Pamela’s talent in acting a platform, though her inability to recall dialogues proved a hindrance. But Neelam encouraged Pamela to sing. “It wasn’t just a backdrop score but a proper singing act that I was given to me to perform,” says the singer, who has travelled to London, France, Australia, Dubai and Pakistan for various international theatre festivals.
Pamela has also done cameos in recent Hindi films such as Love Aaj Kal and Band Baaja Baaraat. She says, “Love Aaj Kal happened by chance when I applied for the auditions and got a call. I also sang a folk song. In Band Baaja Baaraat, I played actor Anushka Sharma’s aunt’s role. I do like acting, but singing is my first love. I do not eat food till the time I do not do riyaaz every morning.”
Pamela signs off as she hums a ghazal that she plans to sing today, “Ae Mohabbat Tere Anjaam Peh Rohna Aya…”
Revel in Pamela Singh’s singing today (Thursday, October 11) at Bhaskar Rao Indoor Auditorium, Sector 35, Chandigarh, from 6.30 pm onwards.