Ustad Harbhajan Singh has the distinction of having been bestowed the title ‘Ustad’ by His Holiness Sri Satguru Jagjit Singh Ji – as Satguru Ji said “Harbhajan is like the tree (ustad) from which many fruits (music students) will come forth”. Today he is one of the most prominent musicians to have combined the classical music of North India and the devotional gurbani singing unique to Sikhism.
Born in March 1945, Ustad Harbhajan Singh grew up in Kujhar, a remote village now in Pakistan. His passion for music was revealed at the tender age of eleven when, without having received any tutelage he was playing the harmonium in the diwans and kirtandarbars of Sri Satguru Pratap Singh Ji. Recognizing the exceptional talent Sri Satguru Jagjit Singh Ji undertook the long arduous task of training him in the complete discipline of Gurbani Sangeet. This started with Ustad Tara Singh who taught him the Dilruba, a prominent instrument of antiquity, played whilst singing Gurbani Shabads. His talent for singing was nurtured by Maharaj Bir Singh Ji, Shri Hazur Singh, Chander Hans, and renowned vocalist Pandit Mahadev Prasad (Kathak). Ten years of demanding discipline saw Harbhajan Singh emerge a master in the singing of such difficult compositions as those in the style of Dhrupad and Dhamar, as well as conventional classical singing, it goes without saying that he was also required to memorize an awesome array of Gurbani Shabads.
Under the directive of Sri Satguru Jagjit Singh Ji to learn to play the sitar, Harbhajan Singh became one of the few privileged students of the Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, who tutored him for a further eight years. During this period Harbhajan Singh was appointed by Sri Satguru Ji to impart his knowledge to the next generation of Namdhari students at Sri Bhaini Sahib. His skills in teaching can be seen in the numerous prodigies who are today names in themselves to be reckoned with. Whilst on tour to the outside world as Sri Sarguru Ji’s Hazuri Raagi he has inspired young talent in places as far apart as Thailand, Kenya, Canada, U.S.A. and the United Kingdom, where by Sri Satguru Ji’s directive he has taught many students in all the various styles of Indian Classical Music.
By writing down in notational form compositions that were traditionally handed down by word of mouth he has made available an immense bank for reference to students and connoisseurs when he is not there to guide them. He has also emerged as an exceptionally gifted composer whose own compositions are being sung the world over. He was conferred the prestigious Sangeet Natak Academy Award in 2010 for his contribution to Gurmat Sangeet. Times Music also recently released a special CD of Gurbani Sangeet of Ustad Harbhajan Singh with Ustad Amjad Ali Khan which has been very well received.