Bhai Avtar Singh Ji
Recorded Live in Boston, 2005, 2003, & Barcelona 2004, Southall 1975
Bhai Sahib Avtar Singh Ji with Bhai Baldeep Singh Bhai Kultar Singh and Bhai Swarn Singh Ji
Bhai Kultar Singh, Bhai Avtar Singh Ji and Bhai Swarn Singh Ji (l to r) at the Boston (Milford) Gurdwara on June 6, 2005
Bhai Kultar Singh, Bhai Ranjit Singh, Bhai Avtar Singh Ji and Bhai Swarn Singh Ji (l to r) at Sarbpreet Singh's home on June 13, 2005
The Ragi Jatha of Bhai Avtar Singh Ji, Bhai Kultar Singh Ji and Bhai Swarn Singh Ji represents an unbroken Gurmat Sangeet tradition that goes all the way back to the times of the Gurus. Bhai Sahib Avtar Singh Ji's father, Bhai Sahib Jwala Singh Ji was an accomplished Ragi, who imparted his knowledge of Gurmat Sangeet to Bhai Sahib Avtar Singh Ji and his older brother Bhai Sahib Gurcharan Singh Ji. Bhai Sahib Avtar Singh Ji and Bhai Sahib Gurcharan Singh Ji have rendered invaluable service to the Sikh Panth by preserving Gurmat Sangeet in its pristine form. They accomplished this by their unwavering commitment to the tradition over the years even as Gurmat Sangeet was being subverted by the pressures of popular culture and film music. The crowning achievement of their career was the publication of 'Gurbani Sangeet Prachin Reet Ratnavali' in which they documented hundreds of traditional Gurmat Sangeet compositions handed down from generation to generation in an unbroken oral tradition.
The Jatha has been renewed upon its being joined by Bhai Kultar Singh, Bhai Avtar Singh Ji's son, who gave up his professional career to return to his roots and propogate the family's tradition as exponents of Gurmat Sangeet.
Update (June 2005)
After a hiatus of 59 years, Bhai Avtar Singh Ji picked up a Taus again, thus bringing back to the practice of Gurmat Sangeet the use of a stringed instrument. These recordings, made during his visit to the Boston area in June 05, feature Bhai Sahib accompanying himself on Taus.
Bhai Sahib Ji was extremely pleased to hear kirtan by the children of the Boston Gurmat Sangeet Project; some of the recordings by the children, made during his visit are also featured on this page. During hsi Katha in the June 10 recordings, Bhai Sahib Ji mentions the children's kirtan in generous terms.
On June 11, Bhai sahib ji sang a magnificent Asa Ki Var, playing his Taus for the entire two hours ! In the Asa Ki Var, he sang fabulous shabads in Devgandhari, Prabhati, Asavari and Bhairavi.
The same evening, at Millis he sang, perhaps one of his
best renditions that I have had the pelasure of hearing, of an ancient
Dhrupad; the shabad was Gun Naad Dhun Anand Bhed.
Even though Bhai Sahib is no more, his contributions to Gurmat Sangeet have truly immortalized him. The Gurmat Sangeet Project is delighted to present rare recordings of Bhai Avtar Singh Ji and Bhai Gurcharan Singh Ji, recorded in 1975 at the Singh Sabha Gurdwara Sahib in Southall, England. These recordings provide a rare glipmse into Bhai Sahib's virtuosity as a Kirtaniya, which he seemed to be least interested in displaying, given his focus on Gurbani !. The magnificent Guldasta, set to Seventeen, yes Seventeen Ragas is truly a rare find as is the composition in Raga Malkauns. All the shabads except the last one were recorded in a Kirtan Darbar held on December 25 1975 to commemorate the 300th Shahidi Gurpurb of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. The last shabad was recorded earlier at a Rain Sabai on November 15, 1975.
The Gurmat Sangeet Project expresses its appreciation for S. Devinderjit Singh Ji, from the UK, who was kind enough to make this recording available.
Bhai Avtar Singh Ji, Milford, June 6, 2005
The Jatha with children from the Gurmat Sangeet Project, Boston Chapter, June 10 2005
The Jatha with children from the Gurmat Sangeet Project, Boston Chapter, May 2003