Kirtan of Dharam Singh Zakhami and Jatha.
 

 
  Bhai Amrik Singh Bhai Shamsher Singh Bhai Dharam Singh Bhai Hariqbal Singh (Leeds 1974)

 

 

Leeds executive committee picture, 1974.
When I was a young lad there was just one Gurdwara in Leeds, a rather grand old converted church, situated on Chapeltown Road.The whole Sikh community of Leeds would gather here, creating a great sense of unity and friendship. For a few weeks in the 70's there came a Kirtani Jatha from India by the name of Dharam Singh Zakhami and Jatha. A jatha of remarkable qualities. They consisted of Amrik Singh Zakhami (dilraba), Shamsher Singh Zakhami (harmonium), Dharam Singh Zakhami (harmonium), and Hariqbal Singh Zakhami (tabla). To say that I was bowled over by their kirtan is an understatement, I have yet to hear anyone as good.   They were all trained in the art of Indian Classical Music, this is evident in the copious amounts of taans, tihais, kaydhas and paltas used in their Khayal style kirtan. What made them so special though was the chemistry between Bhai Shamsher Singh and Bhai Amrik Singh. Each one would anticipate the others move and play off it, great to watch and listen to.On top of this you had a tabla player who could not only sing but play a mean tabla.
Bhai Amrik Singh (Leeds'74) Bhai Amrik Singh and Jatha (Canada 2001) Bhai Amrik Singh (Canada 2001)  

For me Bhai Amrik Singh is the most wonderful kirtania I have ever heard, above all it is the piare of the kirtan which comes through in his performances.

Dharam Singhs first jatha consisted of himself and his two brothers, Bhai Shamsher Singh and Bhai Gursharan Singh (previously named Fuman Singh) on tabla. In the 70's Gursharan Singh left the jatha and tow of Dharam Singhs sons joined - Bhai Amrik Singh and Bhai Hariqbal Singh.

Bhai Dharam Singh Ji was a very learned man and a great parcharak (preacher) he passed away in 1980

Bhai Shamsher Singh Ji formed a new jatha with Bhai Mohanpal Singh on vocals and his son on tabla, Bhai Sahib Ji passed away in the mid 80's.

 

Bhai Amrik Singh Ji still continues with his own jatha with his brother Bratpal Singh on dilruba/israj and his son on vocals. He currently resides in Jalandhar, Punjab.

Bhai Hariqbal Singh Ji moved to Bombay/Mumbai after his fathers death, he started his own jatha for a while and later turned to doing katha and still continues to do so.

I have a collection of the kirtan of Dharam Singh Zakhami and Jatha but I am always on the look out for some more. I know they stayed in the London and Birmingham area for some time and if anyone has their kirtan from their I would be interested to hear from you. If you would like some of their kirtan, just let me know!

Here are some samples of their kirtan.
Apologies for the size of these files but they are well worth a listen.

 

Awar Allah Noor Apaia - Group Kirtan (250K .WAV) MPeg
Sach Dihawo Mughad Mana - Group Kirtan (250K.WAV) MPeg
Apnai Jan Ka Pardha Tahkai - Amrik / Shamsher Singh (250K.WAV) Mpeg
Ant Na Pavait - Amrik Singh (250K.WAV) Mpeg
Note:

 

Kirtan is the singing of the shabads (hymns) contained in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Sikh holy scriptures)and various other Granth Sahibs(Dasam Granth, Vars of Bhai Gurdhas Ji etc) in the raag style (musical mode) that they were written in.

 
Khayal is a style of vocal music in Indian classical Music that some ragis use when singing Kirtan.
 
Taan is a musical/vocal improvisational run performed within the confines of the raag.
 
Tihais,Kayhdas,Paltas are terms used extensively in Indian Classical Music.
 
Harmonium is a small keyboard type instrument, a favourite with Kirtan Jathas.
 
Dilruba is a bowed string instrument.
 
Tabla are the precussive instrument used in Kirtan.
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