In a proud moment for the Sikh community and lovers of Gurmat Sangeet, Professor Kartar Singh Ji, aged 81, who served as the Director of the Gurmat Sangeet Academy, was honoured with the Akademi Award. This prestigious award recognized his significant contribution to the traditional form of Gurmat Sangeet, particularly his mastery of tanti saaz in raags.

The award ceremony took place on the 14th of July, 2009, in New Delhi, celebrating the achievements of awardees from 2008. Professor Kartar received this esteemed accolade from the President of India.

About Prof Kartar Singh Ji

Professor Kartar Singh was born in 1928 in Ghumanke village, located in the Lahore district of Punjab, which is now a part of Pakistan. His journey in the world of Gurbani music began with traditional training from various teachers, including Giani Gurcharan Singh, Bhai Sunder Singh Kasoorwale, Bhai Dalip Singh, and J.S. Bhanwra. Over time, he refined his skills under the mentorship of Balwant Rai Jaswal.

Professor Kartar Singh stands as one of the eminent Gurbani singers. He not only excelled in the realm of music but also dedicated his life to teaching it. His teaching career commenced at the Malwa Central College of Education and later extended to the Guru Nanak Girls College in Ludhiana, where he held the position of the Head of the Department of Music.

In 2009, he assumed the role of Director at the Gurmat Sangeet Academy, located in Sri Anandpur Sahib, Ropar. Here, he imparted his knowledge and skills to numerous students, leaving a significant impact on their musical journey. Moreover, Professor Kartar Singh actively participated in the Basant Gurmat Samagam during the Hola Mohalla festivities at Sri Anandpur Sahib, a tradition he started in the year 2000. It was a special event commemorating the three-hundred-year anniversary of the Gurta Gaddi of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.He  rendered Gurbani in prescribed ragas accompanied by traditional instruments. His soulful renditions of Shabads, or hymns, were recorded and widely shared with the public.

Having started his practice at the age of 13, Professor Kartar Singh specialized in the well-regarded classical music style of 'tanti saaz.'  Not only was he a skilled musician, but he was also one of the very few legends in the realm of 'Gurmat Sangeet' who dedicated himself to teaching this spiritual music.

Prof Kartar Singh’s exceptional contributions to Gurbani music did not go unnoticed. He received numerous prestigious awards and honours in recognition of his talent and dedication. Among these, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, the highest honour for practising artists in India, and the Tagore Ratna Award were significant acknowledgements of his remarkable skills. Additionally, he was the proud recipient of the Shiromani Ragi Award from the Punjab government and the Gurmat Sangeet Senior Fellowship from Punjabi University. These awards highlighted his outstanding achievements in the world of music and his commitment to preserving and promoting Gurmat Sangeet.

On being awarded the Padma Shri, the classical singing legend told the Tribune, “Music is meditation and one has to meditate rigorously besides doing hard work to learn and practice it.” 

Prof Kartar Singh has written numerous books on Gurbani music. His writings aimed to share knowledge about this musical tradition. His contributions received widespread recognition and praise from both the general public and various institutions for his efforts in promoting Gurmat Sangeet.

Unfortunately, in 2022, at the age of 94, this legendary figure in the world of Gurmat Sangeet passed away in Ludhiana. His work continues to be celebrated and remembered for its significant impact on the world of music.

*Based on an article published in Sikhi wallpapers on 29th July 2009, and The Tribune on 4th January 2022


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