Sonu Nigam is one of those versatile musicians who has sung his way into our hearts. The man with a velvet voice and a humble demeanour, Nigam can surely breathe new life into any song’s lyrics. Given that both of his parents were singers, he had a natural talent for singing from an early age. Recalling some of the best recollections of his childhood with his family—which consists of his mother, father, and sisters—he says, “We truly were a very close-knit unit.”
Early on, the artist became interested in music, and at the tender age of three, he began to sing. He joined his father on stage to perform “Kya Hua Tera Wada,” a song by Mohammad Rafi. From then on Sonu started accompanying his father to several stage shows. Reflecting on his first experience with song recording, he remarks, “I’ve been singing professionally for 45 years along with 33 years as a music artist. At the age of 16, I made my very first recording in Delhi in 1989. This was recorded for the album Father and son, one by one, a cover version of a song that my father and I sang.”
“My parents have been pure hearted true people with a lot of self-respect. I inculcated the art of simple living from them. They always knew we were not meant to be an ordinary family. They always made us feel we belonged somewhere else. I took it seriously,” he explains.
When speaking of his own successful career, Nigam notes that it wasn’t an instant phenomenon. “Success has come to me in periodic instalments. My father and I landed in Mumbai in September 1991, and I’d say that day marked a paradigm shift in our life,” he says.
And shortly after, his career was launched when he received his first break in the 1990 film “Janam,” and when he performed back-to-back songs like “Sandese Aate Hain” in the 1997 movie “Border.”
Having a modest demeanour and a diligent spirit, the artist recalls that the only obstacle he encountered while studying music was a lack of access to professional music instruction. He sighs, “I had to self-train myself by listening to my seniors from radio and cassettes.
The entertainment sector is undergoing a structural transformation right now. The sector has changed from being physical to being digital due to the proliferation of digital technology. Sonu Nigam, who arrived on the scene when digital technology was unheard of in India, saw this first-hand and to a great extent. Back then, he remembers, “We’d record in half inch, one inch and 2 inches tapes. As they say size matters, more inches meant better and bigger sound. It was difficult to do fine punching mostly back then so we practiced singing a song in one take many a times. That, possibly, has been the base of my speed while recording all these years.”
“Today, it takes some convincing to get me to sing a song honestly. I have been in the business for so long that I can have the luxury of choosing the songs I want to be a part of, the people I want to work with. If not now, then when?”
Sonu Nigam has contributed more than three decades of smooth, beautiful singing to the Hindi film music industry, yielding a tremendous collection of songs in a variety of genres. Sonu recently recorded the single Main Ki Karaan from Laal Singh Chaddha, which is dedicated to his favorite actor, Aamir Khan. He smiles and says, “I have always loved Aamir Khan from the time he arrived on screen. So, it is always special to sing for him. This project also gave me an opportunity to know him as a human being. So that makes it all the more special.”
In addition to Hindi, we are all aware of the Modern Rafi’s long history of involvement with regional music, and with his most recent Marathi song, Manaat Shirali, which is undoubtedly garnering a lot of appreciation, he has indeed demonstrated his long-standing relationship with music. “This year has been special in many ways,” he exclaims. “Numerous independent and non-Hindi works have also received praise, in addition to Laal Singh Chaddha. Like my independent song Yaad, the Kannada film Gaalipatta 2 songs, Manaat Shirali from Boys 3, and Mukti Daao from the upcoming Bengali movie Kaachher Manush, to name a few,” the artist continues, admitting that he considers himself extremely fortunate to have been able to enjoy new releases in so many different formats after working in the industry for so many decades.
We hope Sonu Nigam continues to produce chart-topping tunes in the years to come given that he is a true gem of the Indian music biz.