Legendary classical music vocalist Pandit Jasraj passed away on Monday at the age of 90. The legend breathed his last at 5:15 am EST (2:45 pm IST) on Monday, his daughter Durga Jasraj confirmed in a statement.
"With profound grief, we inform, that Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj Ji breathed his last this morning at 5:15 am EST due to a cardiac arrest, at home in New Jersey, USA. May Lord Krishna welcome him lovingly through the doors of heaven, where Pandit Ji will now sing Om Namo Bhagwate Vasudevaya exclusively just for his beloved Lord. We pray that his soul rests in eternal musical peace. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Pandit Jasraj ji's family, and the students of Mewati Gharana," Durga Jasraj said in the statement.
With a career spanning over more than seven decades, Pandit Jasraj was a recipient of various prestigious awards and honours including Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Vibhushan.
Born in the Hisar region of Haryana in 1930, Jasraj belonged to a family of musicians. His father Pandit Motiram and brothers—Pratap Narayan and Maniram—were also accomplished musicians.
Many of his family members belonged to the Mumbai film industry including nephews Jatin-Lalit and nieces Sulakshana and Vijeta Pandit.
He married director V Shantaram’s daughter Madhura in 1962, and had two kids—daughter Durga and son Shaarang Dev. In the year 2009, Madhura even made a film based on the life and accomplishments of Pandit Jasraj. It was titled Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj.
Jasraj started as a table player at an early age but soon turned to singing. He sang on radio for years before starting experimenting with his music. He became known for mixing the elements of traditional ‘khayal’ with ‘thumri’, which made the tone a little lighter but very effective. It was his effort to make the classical music more accessible to the general audience which took him to film music.
He collaborated with Pandit Bhimsen Joshi for the music of Birbal My Brother in 1975. One of his last songs were in Vikram Bhatt film 1920, it was titled ‘Vaada Tumse Hain Vaada’.
With many of the big names in both, Indian classical and film music, as his students, Jasraj also opened music schools in many parts of the world. He, along with Pandit Ravi Shankar, made the Indian music popular in the west.
A minor planet, between Mars and Jupiter, was named after Pandit Jasraj last year. He became the first Indian musician to join the galaxy of immortal composers like Mozart, Beethoven and Tenor Luciano Pavarotti.