Kanwal: My music’s in praise of the Almighty


TALENTED singer Kanwar Grewal has risen from humble beginning to become an internationally renowned singer and delighted music lovers with his meaningful songs.

The classically trained Sufi sensation has also won over audiences with mesmerising live performances and is hoping to do that during his upcoming UK tour, which commences later this month. I caught up with the voice behind hit singles like Ranjheya Ve and Ticketan Do to talk about his amazing journey in music.

When did you first get connected to music?

Basically it is related to an incident that happened to me when I was in primary school. Actually I was very fond of music from my childhood and one day locked myself in a room, and started dancing to songs being played on my tape recorder. My father saw me and asked me whether I had any interest in music. When I answered “yes”, he bought me a harmonium and arranged a music teacher for me to practice with. Since that day I have been in this field and so can say that was the exact start of my musical journey.

How do you look back on your journey in that field so far?

It’s been good until now. All my efforts are to just work on good and meaningful songs for all the music lovers out there.

What led you towards the Sufi genre?

In 2010, when I was working at Punjabi University in Patiala, one of my friends took me to a small village where a lady Sufi saint used to teach meditation. Everyone there called her Bebeji. After I was introduced to her, they asked me to sing, and I started with the Sufi kalaam (hymn) Allah Hoo. While singing I felt divine and internal peace for the first time in my life. At that very moment I felt that this is the perfect path for me to join.

How did it make you feel when your first song was released?

It was an amazing feeling. I remember in 2012, when I was continuing my job at Punjabi University in Patiala, I met the lyricist Baba Beli. When I heard the lyrics of a song he had written titled Akhan, I knew that should be my first release. Thankfully it got a great response.

Did you ever expect that you would achieve so much global success?

No, I never thought this in my life. When I used to sing at school, college and university it was purely for passion and never for fame. Even today I love to sing for myself and for the passion, not for fame. And that will continue for a lifetime.

Who has been the most interesting person you have met in your music journey?

Actually to me everyone is interesting, so specifying any one name would not be justified.

Which of your song is closest to your heart?

I love all the songs I have performed, and they all have a special place in my heart. But recently I have collaborated with Dominos Studio on five songs and am looking forward to sharing them with my fans. These songs are very special to me as I really worked hard on them.

How much does performing live mean to you and which has been your most memorable stage show?

Actually, live singing means everything to me. If you ask about my most memorable time, then that is when I used to sing in the Kutia [in the gurdwara] for satsang. The pleasure and peace I got from that had never come to me anywhere else while singing.

Are you looking forward to touring the UK and what can we expect from your shows?

Touring in the UK is very special as I started my overseas musical journey from there in 2014. So I am excited to meet the people out there again. I hope to do good shows and entertain audiences.

You have a lot of emotion in your voice. Where does that come from?

When singing becomes your habit and way of life then emotions will come straight from your heart and through your voice. I believe this could be the only reason.

Do any of the songs affect you emotionally?

Yes, of course, because music is full of emotions so there are many songs which make me emotional. Basically good and meaningful music will always make you emotional. That is a good thing.

What music do you like listening to yourself?

As I said, it’s the music that draws emotions. Music relating to the Almighty is my first choice.

Who is your musical hero?

I loved Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan saab since my childhood and he will be my all­time musical hero. For him singing was a habit and way of life, not just a profession.

What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?

All the advice I have got from Bebeji has been the best and I am trying to implement that in my life.

What can we expect next from you?

I do not plan for the future because the future is not certain. The next moment is totally uncertain so my plans are left in the hands of destiny and I follow that.

Finally, what would you say is your greatest unfulfilled ambition today?

I have got much more than my expectations from life, but now my only unfulfilled desire is to get answers to three questions – who am I, where have I come from and where do I have to go?