Devander Pal Singh On his first ever visit to the UK, sat down with Kirat Raj Singh from SimplyBhangra.com to discuss his life so far and the plans for the future.
He was only 17 years old in 2012, when he finished runner up in the smash hit Indian talent show, “The Indian Idol.” Described as the “Young Sardar with the golden voice” by Bollywood legend, Lata Mangeshkar, the young singer has gone on to lend his voice to numerous songs both in Bollywood and Punjabi films.
KRS: Devander Pal Singh, Sat Sri Akal and welcome to the UK. How does it feel being here?
DPS: Sat Sri Akal ji. It feels great. I have been here two days and already seen so much love from the Punjabi community here. The UK is a very special place and I’m honoured to be in the capital of the bhangra industry in the west.
KRS: People were obviously introduced to Devander Pal Singh through the Indian Idol TV show, but our readers would like to know about your background before coming on to the show.
DPS: I was born in Patna Sahib in 1994, coming from a very musical family. My Nana ji (maternal grandfather) Ustaad Mohinder Singh ji, was a very famous tabla player who accompanied some of the biggest classical singers in the country in concerts, shows and on radio programmes.
It was my Nana ji who encouraged me to take up music and learn Gurmat Sangeet. When I moved to Ludhiana at the age of 12, I began learning classical singing from Ustaad Sukhwant Singh ji. I auditioned for the Indian Idol in Delhi as it was my mothers wish that I should perform on a national stage. The rest is as they say history…
KRS: Hundreds of Thousands of people audition for the show. Finishing as a runner up is an incredible achievement, but what are some of your greatest moments that you remember from the show?
DPS: It was a surreal experience and I had never thought I would have achieved such a feat especially as I was so young. But two moments especially really stick out for me throughout the process. First when Pundit Jasraj ji were the guest judge on the show and the contestants were asked to sing a classical raag. I sang raag Yaaman and received a standing ovation from Pundit Jasraj ji.
The other moment came when Lata Mangeshkar ji praised my “melodious voice” and “deep understanding of classical sangeet.” To have two major stalwarts praise my singing, it was definitely a highlight of my career.
KRS: During the contest you gained support from many different quarters but there was much said in the media at that time about your image as it was felt that a turban wearing singer would not be able to make it big in Bollywood. How did that effect you?
DPS: I know some felt that to be successful in Bollywood you need to have a certain glamorous image and they were uncertain if my “sabat-surat saroop” (turban and beard) would fit in. However I received nothing but support from those around me. Even Asha Bhosle ji commented backstage and told me that I should stay true to my roots, my faith and my dedication to singing.
I have always been keen to make my own space in the industry and my faith and my turban are an integral part of that.
KRS: Since Indian Idol, you have sung many songs in Bollywood films, Punjabi films and even performed in the Coke Studio with Harshdeep Kaur. What else can we expect from you in the coming days?
DPS: Well my latest bhangra single, “Tiyaari Viyaah Di” was released recently and very well received. It achieved a high number of views on social media channels and the feedback I have received has been extremely positive.
I also have a dharmik (religious) song releasing very soon to commemorate the martyrdom of the Sikh Warrior Baba Banda Singh Bahadur. Recently whilst on tour in the USA, I was lucky enough to perform alongside some great Punjabi singers like Ammy Virk and Miss Pooja and look forward to continuing to perform across the world.
KRS: What message would you give to your fans in the UK and our readers at SimplyBhangra.com?
DPS: I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart all those who have supported me and given my music so much love in the past few years. I hope I can continue to gain your love in the future and inspire those who listen to it to remain true to their faith, culture and roots.
Finally I would like to congratulate Simplybhangra.com on their 10th year anniversary and pray that they continue to serve the Punjabi community worldwide for many more years to come.
Devander Pal Singh will be performing at the Chorlton Irish Club in Manchester on Monday 9th May from 7pm. Contact 07438 352 483 for tickets.