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12 Timeless Ghazal Singers You Must Follow

    Ghazals represent the effervescence of love that has undergone pain of loss. As the beauty of ghazals slowly fade from collective consciousness, we take a look at some maestros the world should not forget.
     
    The world has been blessed with some great Ghazal singers. These singers are admired across borders for their brilliant classical vocals and profound choice of lyrics. Their soulful melodies have brought solace to many, transporting them to a different world simply with their enthralling voices. Ghazals are appreciated for their meaningful Urdu verses and soul-soothing music. They invoke a sense of calmness within us, but also help us connect with our deepest feelings.
     
    With the music and entertainment space changing rapidly today, one does hope that Ghazals are not forgotten. What better way to remember them now, than discussing the geniuses that have left an eternal mark in the world and in our hearts. Let’s give them a go!
     
    • 1. Jagjit Singh (1941-2011)

    This name needs no introduction. Known as the ‘King of Ghazals,’ Jagjit Singh has been one of India’s most admired Ghazal singers. His songs have a place in every listeners’ hearts – no matter what age he/she be. His diction of Urdu was unbelievable and the range and depth of his voice are incomparable. He laid a lot of emphasis on simplicity and clarity; as a result, his endearingly honeyed voice became a part of everyone’s joys and sorrows.
     
    This great artist is considered among the most successful Ghazal singers of all time, in terms of both critical acclaim and commercial success. In 2003, he was awarded Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.
     
    His most memorable Ghazals are –
    • Tumko Dekha Toh Yeh Khayaal Hai
    • Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho
    • Baat Niklegi Toh Bohot Durr Talak Jaayegi
    • Woh Kaghaz Ki Kashti
    • Hothon Se Chu Lo Tum
     
    • 2. Hariharan (Born 1955)

    Hariharan is an Indian playback, bhajan and Ghazal singer from Trivandrum. His intonation, voice modulation and selection of ghazals make him a living legend. He is not just a maestro; but a music institute in himself.
     
    One of Hariharan's first Ghazal albums was "Abshaar-e-Ghazal" with Asha Bhonsle, which went gold in sales. Another outstanding Ghazal album was "Gulfam", which not only hit double platinum in sales, but also fetched Hariharan the Diva Award for the Best Album of the Year in 1994. In 2004, Hariharan was honored with the Padma Shri by the Government of India. He is also a two-time National Award winner. He has also won titles such as “Swarna Kuraloan” (for his mellifluous voice) in Sri Lanka and ‘Raga Chakravarthy” (King of Ragas) in Toronto in the year 2001.
     
    His most memorable Ghazals are –
    • Pathar Sulag Rahe The
    • Ajeeb Saaneha Mujh Par Guzar Gaya
    • Haal-E-Dil
    • Hosh Waalon Ne Mujhe
    • Aayi Idhar Baharein
     
    • 3. Pankaj Udhas (Born 1951)

    Pankaj Udhas is yet another popular Indian Ghazal singer. This man who has been a legend since the 80s, may not be in the limelight anymore, but his body of work is something most of us have grown up listening to. And his music is, as they say – like old wine that just keeps getting better with every year gone by.
     
    Pankaj Udhas started his career with the release of a Ghazal album titled “Aahat” in 1980 and subsequently recorded many hits later. He rose to fame for singing in the 1986 film Naam, in which his song “Chitthi Aayee Hai” became an instant hit. Moreover, his live concerts in various countries gave him global recognition. In 2006, Pankaj Udhas was awarded the Padmashree for his contribution to the art of Ghazal singing.
     
    His most memorable Ghazals are –
    • Chandi Jaisa Rang Hai Tera
    • Phir Haath Mein Sharab Hai
    • Chhu Gayi
    • Dil Gaya Tumne Liya
    • Kaise Likhoge Mohabbat Ki Kitaab
    • Aur Bhala Kya Mangu Mein Rab Se
     
    • 4. Talat Aziz (Born 1956)

    Talat Aziz is one of the country's leading Ghazal singers. His versatility and consummate talent make him one of the most successful vocalists in India. An evergreen favorite, with a distinctively smooth voice and charming stage presence, Talat Aziz has been singing in concerts for over four decades and has traveled the globe with his sell-out performances.
     
    Hailing from Hyderabad, Talat Aziz was trained in music by Ustad Samad Khan and Ustad Fayaz Ahmed of the Kirana Gharana. It was in February 1980 that Talat Aziz was launched by Ghazal virtuoso Jagjit Singh. In 2003, he was invited by the King of Morocco Mohd XI to Marrakech as his special guest to celebrate the New Year along with a host of celebrities from around the world including none other than Sir Sean Connery.
     
    His most memorable Ghazals are –
    • Phir Chiddi Raat
    • Zindagi Jab Bhi
    • Ab Kya Ghazal Sunaoon
    • Aawargi Hamari
    • Tumhin Se Roshan Hai Raat
     
    • 5. Bhupinder Singh (Born 1940)

    Bhupinder Singh is an Indian musician, chiefly a Ghazal singer and a Bollywood playback singer. Born in Amritsar, Singh's training began with his father, who was a musician. While Bhupinder kept getting film playback offers, he released his Ghazal EPs, popular ones being ‘ Aankhon Ka Tha Kasoor ’and ‘Aahat Si Koi Aaye ’
     
    Bhupinder is a singer of style and variety. This singer also introduced modern instruments into Ghazal orchestration. By introducing flutes, Spanish guitar, drums, and other stringed instruments, Singh gave Ghazal a modern sound, which began to attract new listeners. The softness and charisma of his voice definitely makes him one of the top singers of India.
     
    His most memorable Ghazals are –
    • Har Ek Ranj Mein
    • Ishq Mein Jalte Rahe
    • Charagar teri mohabbat ka asar kafi hai
    • Aaj peene ki dawat hai
     
    • 6. Anup Jalota (Born 1953)

    Anup Jalota is an Indian singer/musician, best known for his performances in the Indian musical form, the bhajan, and the Urdu form of poetry, Ghazal. Jalota started his musical career as a chorus singer on All India Radio. He has recorded over 1,500 bhajans, Ghazals, and film songs. He has performed over 5,000 live concerts spread over 400 cities across five continents.
     
    Anup Jalota is the only modern Indian singer who really sings Ghazals in style. Undoubtedly a prodigy, his voice and tone are intricate and accurate than more seasoned singers. Anup Jalota was awarded the Padma Shri in 2012 for his contribution to the field of Art-Indian Classical Music.
     
    His most memorable Ghazals are –
    • Aisi Lagi Lagan
    • Chaand Angdaiyaan Le Raha Hai
    • Tumhare Shahar Ka Mausam
    • Jag Mein Sundar Hai Do Naam
    • Main Nazar Se Pee Raha Hoon
    • Hum Se Achi to Kahin Aaine ki Khismat Hogi
     
    • 7. Farida Khanum (Born 1929)

    Farida Khanum, also known as Malika-e-Ghazal is a classical singer from Pakistan. She has been trained in Khayal, Thumri, and Dadra genres by Ustad Aashiq Ali Khan. Farida Khanum is a gem in the world of Ghazals. The emotions she invests, the throw of the honey-sweetened rich voice, the style of delivery, the adaa, etc —make her unique from the rest.
    Born in 1929 in Calcutta, British India, Farida’s family moved from Amritsar to Lahore in Pakistan when she was 18 years old. She gave her first public concert in 1950 at the young age of 21. She then joined Radio Pakistan, where she gained recognition for herself. The Ghazal she is most associated with is ‘Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd Naa Karo’ written by the famous poet Fayyaz Hashmi.
     
    Farida Khanum became a well-known singer when President Ayub Khan invited her to a public recital in the 1960s.
     
    His most memorable Ghazals are –
    • Woh Ishq Jo Humse Rooth Gaya,
    • Maine Pairon Mein Payal to Bandhi Nahin,
    • Raat Jo Tum Ne Deep Bujhaye and
    • Woh Mujh Se Hue Ham Kalam
     
    • 8. Ustad Mehndi Hasan (1927 –2012)

    Mehdi Hasan Khan was a Pakistani Ghazal singer and playback singer for Lollywood. One of the greatest and most influential figures in the history of Ghazal singing, he is referred to as the "Shahenshah-e-Ghazal" (Emperor of Ghazal).
     
    He was distinctively known for his melodic patterns and innovative ragas. Critics and fans alike have marveled at Hassan’s ability to sing with such lightness, given his essential training in the classical tradition. In 1964, his Ghazal "Gulon mein rang bharay, baad-e-naubahar chale" for a film Farangi, gave him a major breakthrough into the Pakistani film industry; he never looked back after that.
     
    By the time he breathed his last, Mehdi Hassan had not only gained millions of fans across the world, but had also been honored with some high civilian awards from the governments of Pakistan, India and Nepal.
     
    His most memorable Ghazals are –
    • Alam-e-Khwaab ho ya
    • Aagay Barhe Na Qissa -E -Ishq -E- Butaan Se Hum
    • Aaj tak yaad hai woh Pyaar ka Manzar
    • Aaj Tu Ghair Sahi
     
    • 9. Ghulam Ali (Born 1940)

    Ustad Ghulam Ali is a prominent Pakistani Ghazal singer. He is considered one of the best ghazal singers of his era. His style and variations in singing are unique, as he blends Hindustani classical music with Ghazals, unlike any other Ghazal singer.
     
    Along with singing Ghazals, Ghulam Ali composed music for his own Ghazals. His compositions were raga-based and sometimes include a scientific mixture of ragas. He is known for blending gharana-gaayaki into ghazal and this gives his singing the capability to touch people's hearts.
     
    Many of his hit ghazals have been used in Bollywood movies. He was introduced to Hindi cinema with a Hindi film song “Chupke Chupke Raat Din” written by the poet Hasrat Mohani in B. R. Chopra's film, Nikaah (1982).
     
    Recently, in February 2013, the maestro became the first person to receive the Bade Ghulam Ali Khan award. He also got the first Swaralaya Global Legend Award (2016) at Trivandrum, Kerala, India. Ghulam Ali was also the singer of choice for His Late Majesty the king of Nepal Mahendra Birbikram Shah Dev.
     
            His most memorable Ghazals are –
    • Saaqi Sharab Laa
    • Baharon ko Chaman
    • Barsan Lagi Sawan Bundiya Raja
    • Bata do tum humein bedaad karna
    • Bechain bahut phirna ghabraaye huye rehna
     
    • 10. Begum Akhtar (1914 –1974)

    Akhtari Bai Faizabadi also known as Begum Akhtar, was an Indian singer and actress. Known as "Mallika-e-Ghazal" (Queen of Ghazals), she is regarded as India’s finest ghazal singer of all time.
     
    Begum Akhtar evolved her own signature style of thumri-dadra, in which she combined both the Purab and the Punjab styles of Hindustani classical music. Her style of singing is inimitable and only a few can match up to her style. Moreover, most of her songs are self-composed and based on ragas. 
     
    At the tender age of fifteen, Begum Akhtar gave her first public performance. People were so moved by her voice that she gained instant recognition. Her Ghazals even impressed the famous poetess of India, Sarojini Naidu.
     
    Begum Akhtar received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for vocal music in 1972, was awarded the Padma Shri, and later Padma Bhushan, by the Government of India.
     
    Her most memorable Ghazals are –
    • Wo Jo Humme Tumme Qaraar Tha
    • Hamri Atariya Pe
    • Kuch to Duniya Ki
     
    • 11. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948 –1997)

    Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, born Pervez Fateh Ali Khan, was a Pakistani vocalist, musician, composer, music director and primarily a singer of qawwali, a form of Sufi devotional music.
    His voice is quite unlike any other. It's heavy and hulking powerful, yet also nimble and pointedly precise. Unique and multi-talented, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan captivated the hearts of millions across the globe with his magnificent and haunting voice. In his lifetime, he also collaborated with many Western musicians. His vocals appeared on soundtracks to films directed by Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone and Tim Robbins.
     
    Many honorary titles were bestowed upon Khan during his music career. He was given the title of Ustad (the master) after performing classical music at a function in Lahore on the anniversary of his father's death.
     
    His most memorable Ghazals are –
    • Hungama Hai Kyon
    • Yeh Dil Pagal Dil Mera
    • Dil Mein Ek Leher Si Uthi
    • Chupke Chupke Raat Din
     
    • 12. Abida Parveen (Born 1954)

    Abida Parveen is a Pakistani Muslim singer, composer, and musician. Parveen is referred to as one of the world's greatest mystic singers. She mainly sings ghazals, Thumri, Khyal, Qawwali, Raga, Sufi rock, Classical and Semi-classical music. Parveen is best known for singing in an impassioned, loud voice. But the core of her music is her spirituality; it’s evident not just from her performances, but in the philosophy she brings to her art.
     
    In 1977, she was introduced as an official singer on Radio Pakistan. Since then, Parveen has risen to prominence. Today, she is considered one of the finest vocal artists of Pakistan. She also performs across the globe. Although Parveen is a highly acclaimed singer, she has never rendered her voice to films. However, her pre-recorded songs have been used in films, on the insistence of her fans.
     
    Abida Parveen received numerous awards during her lifetime. She is among the 500 Most Influential Muslims of the world, with the power to induce hysteria in her audience.
     
    Her most memorable Ghazals are –
    • dil-e-nadan tujhe hua kya hai
    • hazaron KHwahishen aisi ki har KHwahish pe dam nikle
    • wo jo hum mein tum mein qarar tha tumhein yaad ho ki na yaad ho
    • ye na thi hamari qismat ki visal-e-yar hota
    • kal chaudhwin ki raat thi shab bhar raha charcha tera
     
    With their ability to stir our souls and expose the most deepest of feelings within us, Ghazals have carved a distinctive place in the world of music. No wonder they are considered classics. When one is feeling lost or looking for peace of mind, all they need to do is tune in to the Ghazals by these amazing artists. Their vocals will not only ring magic into your ears, but will also rejuvenate your mind and soul.