Sonu Nigam is a popular Indian playback singer and music director who started singing at a very young age. He had excelled as a playback singer and even experimented with different styles which he performs with ease. Many people claim that his style is pretty much similar to the legendary singer Mohammad Rafi and for this reason, Sonu Nigam is often called 'Modern Rafi'.
Sonu Nigam has a very sweet and melodious voice and is one of the greatest and most versatile singers in today's era. Till now, Sonu Nigam has sung more than two thousand songs in ten different languages. Sonu Nigam sang every other song in a Bollywood movie during 2010-2011. He has even worked with some most legendary people in the music industry, like Lata Mangeshkar and Khayyam.
Early Life and Educational Qualification
Singer Sonu Nigam was born on 30 July 1973 in Faridabad, Haryana. Agam Kumar Nigam is his father and Sonu's mother's name is Shobha Nigam. Nigam's father belonged to Agra, and he was also a playback singer in Bollywood. Madhurima Nigam is the wife of Sonu Nigam and they were married on 15 February 2002. Nigam has a son whose name is Nevaan. Sonu also has two sisters named Tisha Nigam and Meenal Nigam.
Mohammad Rafi was his idol, and he used to dub his singing style on stage shows; for this reason, people often call him modern Rafi. Sonu Nigam completed his schooling at J. D. Tytler School in Delhi and graduated from Delhi University.
Singing Career at Early Age
When Sonu Nigam was just 4 years old, he used to join stage performances with his father, Agam Kumar Nigam. Slowly he also joined his father at weddings and parties, where they performed together on different songs.
Sonu Nigam learnt all his music skills at home from his father. He has grown up by learning every inch of music from him. Sonu's passion for music surpassed every other interest, and later, he pursued this with full focus.
He decided to go to Mumbai at 18 with his father to try his luck in the Bollywood music industry. He continued his music training with maestro Ghulam Mustafa Khan and was looking for opportunities. After analyzing his music skills and performances, he considered becoming a playback singer in the Bollywood industry. Sonu Nigam even believed in superstitions, and once he even changed the spelling of his name 'Nigam' to 'Niigaam', he eventually decided to return with the original one.
Sonu Nigam has recorded devotional, romantic, patriotic, and ghazal songs in various languages like Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Nepali, and much more. He has even launched his pop albums and devotional albums in different languages.
Nigam's performance is not only limited to India. He has even performed internationally in the countries of Europe, the Middle East, Australia, and Asia. In 2007, Sonu collaborated with 'The Incredibles'. The Incredible comprised Asha Bhosle, Kailash Kher, Kunal Ganjawala, and Sonu Nigam. He also organized solo concerts in Canada and Germany by the name Simply Sonu. He became the first Indian singer to do so.
Starting Career: 1990-1999
Sonu Nigam got his first break as a playback singer in 1990 for a song from the movie Janam. Due to some unavoidable circumstances, the movie wasn't released. He even signed the contract with T-Series, but it was rejected because of S. P. Balasubramaniam. Though his contract was turned down, T-Series owner Gulshan Kumar was impressed by his passion and talent and gave him a chance for a song from the hit movie Bewafa Sanam. 'Achha Sila Diya Tune' song gave him great success in Bollywood Industry, and the song was a hit after which people started noticing and appreciating this young talented singer.
In 1993 Sonu Nigam released his first album titled 'Rafi Ki Yaadein'; after that, he sang songs for many movies like Khuddar, Hulchul, Shera, Jeet, Dulhe Raja, Veerta and many more. 'O Aasman Wale' Aaja Meri Jaan was his first release. Before this song, he already had sung many. During his initial days, Nigam struggled because he wasn't getting the opportunity for a playback singer. He did advertisements on radio. Sonu's primary source of income came from stage shows where he sang Rafi's songs. Sonu Nigam debuted in Tamil with the song name Vaarayo Thozi. In 1999, Sonu Nigam released his album Deewana under the T-Series label.
Career Peak: 2000-2010
The time between 2000 and 2010 was a golden decade of Sonu Nigam's life because he gave many hit songs for which he was nominated in many award shows and won many of them. Suraj Hua Maddham and Panchi Nadiya Pawan Ke were the two most popular songs sung by Sonu Nigam with Alka Yagnik within this period. The title track of the movie Saathiya got Sonu his first Filmfare Award. A. R. Rahman was the composer of the song and lyrics were written by Gulzar.
The song that gave Sonu Nigam the biggest success at this time was Kal Ho Naa Ho in 2003. The song was composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and written by Javed Akhtar. He won two awards for this track. The first was Filmfare Award, and the second was National Film Fare Award for a playback singer in the male category.
Sonu Nigam sang four songs with Shreya Ghosal for the movie Parineeta. In 3 Idiots, Sonu Nigam was the leading playback singer. Nigam re-released the album Rafi Ki Yaadein in 2007 in memory of Mohammad Rafi titled Kal Aaj Aur Kal.
In 2008 he released Classically Mild and a Punjabi track titled Punjabi Please and Rafi Resurrected. Sonu Nigam even released a song to tribute Michael Jackson after his death. In 2007, Drew Gilpin Faust became the 28th President of Harvard University. There Sonu Nigam sang bhajan during the inauguration programme with Harvard Students.
Present Time: 2010-Present time
In 2010, Sonu Nigam sang the title track Tees Maar Khan in 54 languages. He also sang the hit song Chori Kiya Re Jiya from the Dabangg. While recording the song Aye Janani, Sonu hit the highest note with open throat effort without using falsetto. In 2010, Sonu Nigam Global Indian Music Academy Awards for the title track All Izz Well. He also won the BIG Star Entertainment Award for best playback singer of the decade.
In 2011, Sonu Nigam collaborated with Britney Spears for I Wanna Go and DJ Avicii for Indian Levels. He also wrote and composed the song This Is It. The song was made to tribute Michael Jackson, for which Sonu collaborated with Michael Jackson's brother Jermaine Jackson. Between 2012 and 2015, many of Sonu's songs were redubbed in other singers' voices by music companies because he was fighting for singers' royalties and against the companies' illegal contracts. Sonu said that he wasn't scared of being out because he believed that good sense would prevail in the end.
Sonu Nigam also sang the Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin from the movie Agneepath in 2012, which became a huge success and bagged many awards. BIG Star Entertainment Award, 5th Mirchi Music Award, Zee Cine Awards, Times of India Film Awards, 18th and 19th Lions Gold Award and many more. This song also made him a nominee for best playback singer in the male category at Filmfare Awards. Sonu Nigam considers this song one of his best songs to date.
In 2013 Sonu composed the title track of the movie Singh Saab The Great and the movies Sooper Se Ooper and Jal. US Billboard Uncharted charts ranked him as the number one artist several times. Sonu's duet with Shreya Ghosal in Love is a Waste of Time and solo in Bhagwaan Hai Kahaan Re Tu received immense love from people. Sapna Jahan from Brothers was also a popular song.
In 2015 Sonu Nigam recorded songs with music director Khayyam for the project Gulam Bandhu. He also collaborated with musicians around the globe for Imagine, composed by John Lennon. In 2016 Sonu Nigam released a single named Crazy Dil, in which he featured himself along with his son and other co-actors of Bollywood like Farah Khan, Sunil Grover, Rajkumar Hirani, Kailash Kher and Natalie Di Luccio. He then released another one titled First Date with Jonita Gandhi.
Sonu also collaborated with the 6 Pack Band (Transgender Band) for the Sab Rab De Bande song. Tu Hi Na Jaane from Azhar was Sonu's first collab with music composer Amaal Malik. Sonu Nigam did an International collab with Indian-American DJ Kshmr for a song named Underwater. He received the 9th Mirchi Music Award for Indie Pop Song named Aye Jahaan Aasmaan. The song was sung with Shreya Ghosal, an independent song, and the composer was Abhishek Ray.
Sonu also sang a song for the movie Raees starring Shah Rukh Khan, which was unfortunately not included in the movie but later, the same was released on YouTube.
Sonu also sang the song Aye Zindagi by Vishal Mishra. The song has already had five versions sung by Asha Bhosle, Abhijeet Bhattacharya, Alka Yagnik, Suresh Wadkar and Shaan. Sonu was also featured in Totta with Kainaat Arora. In this song, he collaborated with Meet Bros. Main Badhiya Tu Bhi Badhiya, and Kulfi from 102 Not Out became very popular.
Sonu Nigam also sang the remake of Badan Pe Sitaare, originally sung by none other than Sonu's idol, i.e. Mohammad Rafi. It's because the movie Fanney Khan had some references related to Mohammad Rafi; therefore, to maintain originality Anil Kapoor requested him to do so, and that is why Sonu agreed. Sonu also revealed that initially, he hesitated as it would tamper with the original song, but at Anil Kapoor's request, he did it.
Sonu also sang songs related to social causes like Tik Tik Plastic, whose objective was to nullify the use of plastic as it harms the environment. He then sang an anthem named Mumbai River Anthem to save Mumbai river.
In 2021 Sonu Nigam did a UK tour titled Rafi Kishore aur Main, which Grace Entertainment presented. The show was just wow not only because of Sonu Nigam but also because there were very talented musicians, even some of them from the original composition. He sang his tracks along with the legendary singer's track like Kishore Kumar and Mohammad Rafi, which made the audience glued to their seats for almost four hours.
Sonu Nigam has even launched his NFT collection, which consists of some key moments of his life and some details about recordings. He is also the first Indian singer to perform this initiative. Music Label Company
I Believe Music is Sonu Nigam's own music label company which was launched on 30 July 2020. The first track released under this label was Rudhrashtakam.
Host and Reality Show Judge
From 1995 to 1999, Sonu Nigam was the host of the reality music show named Sa Re Ga Ma. Sonu Nigam was also the host of Kitna Hai Dum's show in 2002. In Indian Idol season 1 and 2 Sonu became one of the judges of the show. In seasons 3, 4 and 6, he was a celebrity judge.
Sonu also hosted Life Ki Dhun on Radiocity 91.1 FM, where he interviewed musicians. He was the judge at STAR Voice India in season 1 and season 2. In Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar music reality show, Sonu was the celebrity judge. Nigam was also a judge and mentor on Chhote Ustaad - Do Deshon Ki Ek Awaaz with Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and in X Factor Season 1 with Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Shreya Ghoshal. To share his life experiences, Sonu Nigam also appeared on The Anupam Kher Show on 23 August 2015. He was also the main judge of Indian Idol 2016-17.
Nigam also hosts the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 13th, and 14th Music Mirchi Awards. He also appeared as one of the judges for the music show named Super Singer Season 3, along with Kaushiki Chakroborty and Kumar Sanu. It was a Bengali music reality show held on Star Jalsha.
Sonu Nigam once tweeted a few tweets related to loudspeakers in mosques, temples, gurudwara and other religious places. He said that the loudspeakers disturb people, which is a kind of forced religiousness for people who don't want to follow any religion.
Members of some religious groups were offended, and this landed him up in a controversy. Later he tweeted a few more tweets to clarify that he is not against any religion and stands by his statement. His statement applies to loudspeakers placed on any religious building, be it a mosque, temple, or gurudwara. He is against using loudspeakers beyond certain times, which creates noise pollution.
Things got worse when he posted a video of Azaan from his home and stated how it disturbs his sleep in the early morning. Syed Sha Atef Ali Al Quaderi was so offended that he announced prize money of 10 lakh for anyone who shaved Sonu Nigam's said. Al Quaderi was the vice president of the West Bengal United Minority Council. Sonu Nigam gave a bold reply by shaving his head to claim the prize money.
In 2017 Sonu Nigam deactivated his Twitter account by stating that it lacked freedom of speech and said that sensible discussion is impossible on Twitter because of the polarised atmosphere. After the demise of actor Sushant Singh Rajput in 2020, Sonu Nigam shared a video where he said how big companies also monopolize Bollywood music and face discrimination. He requested music companies to be fair with newcomers.
Sonu Nigam didn't reveal any name and only gave his point of view regarding what's happening inside the music industry. However, in his 2nd video, he names Bhushan Kumar, CEO of T-Series, and tells him to stay away. In 2022 Sonu Nigam was accused of working with two blocklisted people, Rocky and Mr Rehan Siddiqui, who supported Pakistan terror groups. This news came out when Rajendra Singh Pahl contacted Sonu to perform at a concert, and Sonu told him to contact Rehan.
Sonu Nigam is a very talented singer and will remain one of our favorites throughout our life. Because of issues with music companies, he know he sings very rarely but does concert.