Mohammed Rafi
He was equally adept in ghazals, qawwali, thumris and bhajans along with contemporary music.
Aref via Wikemedia Commons

Today is legendary Bollywood singer Mohammed Rafi’s 91st birth anniversary.

Although he died 35 years ago, Mohammed Rafi’s voice is a permanent fixture in the cultural and musical landscape in many parts of India.

Born in Amritsar on December 24, 1924, Rafi was trained in classical music by Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan, Pandit Jiwan and Feroze Nizam. Sometime after his birth, his family moved to Pakistan. One of his relatives first recognized his talent when at 13 he would sing Sufi songs.

But it would be many years before he moved to Mumbai in 1944 and went on to become one of Indian cinema’s greatest treasures.

In the 1950s and 60s, he was one of the most sought-after singers in Mumbai, as his voice alone could ensure the commercial success of a film. Upcoming musicians remembered him fondly as he did not charge them.

By the time of his death on Jul 31, 1980, Rafi had sung more than 4,000 songs 14 languages including Assamese, Konkani, Bhojpuri, Odia, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi,Sindhi, Kannada, Gujarati, Telugu, Magahi, Maithili and Urdu. Apart from Indian languages, he also sang songs in English, Farsi, Arabic, Creole, and Dutch.

He was equally adept in ghazals, qawwali, thumris and bhajans along with contemporary music.

Some of the more famous songs sung by Rafi are Man Tarpat Hari Darshan Ko Aaj, Mere Meboob Tujhe Meri Mohabbat Ki Kasam and Tere Husn Ki Kya Tareef Karoon. For his songs he had won several Filmfare Awards and one National Award too. He also held the Guinness World Records for singing the most number of songs briefly.