Nigam began his singing career at the age of four, when he joined his father Agam Kumar Nigam on stage to sing Mohammed Rafi's song "Kya Hua Tera Wada". Nigam began accompanying his father on his singing appearances at weddings and parties. He moved to Mumbai with his father to begin his Bollywood singing career at the age of 18. He was trained by Hindustani classical singer Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan.
Nigam married Madhurima Mishra on 15 February 2002. He has a son named Nevaan.
Nigam's first film song as a playback singer was for Janam (1990), which was never officially released. He then began making radio commercials and also acted in some of them.
His first released song was "O Aasman Wale" from the movie Aaja Meri Jaan (1993). Sonu had also sung the title track of Aaja Meri Jaan, but it was dubbed by SP Balasubramaniam. He released his first album "Rafi Ki Yaadein" in 1992. After this, he sung in some movies, including Muqabla (1993), Meherban (1993), Shabnam (1993), Aag (1994), Khuddar (1994), Hulchul (1994), Stuntman (1994), Ramjaane (1995), Gaddar (1995), etc. Sonu Nigam was supposed to playback the song "Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh" from 1942: A Love Story and Sonu was the first choice of R.D. Burman for this song, but the song was eventually recorded by Kumar Sanu. He began hosting the TV show, Sa Re Ga Ma in 1995 and sang "Accha Sila Diya" for the film Bewafa Sanam and achieved great success because of it. In the same year, he sang the Anu Malik-composed song "Sandese Aate Hai" in Border and performed the Nadeem-Shravan-composed song "Yeh Dil Deewana" in Pardes in 1997, which took him out from his stereotyped image of singing. Nigam's album Deewana, with music directed by Sajid-Wajid, was released by T-Series in 1999 and is one of the most selling and celebrated albums till date.
Nigam provided playback singing for Hindi movies, including the title song for the film Kal Ho Naa Ho in 2003 to "Abhi Mujhme Kahin" for Agneepath in 2012 and many more.. However, from the past few years, he has gone selective about his songs so that he can focus more on creative works. His upcoming project with Bickram Ghosh named "Bollywood Retro" is one such project.
Nigam has released albums of Mohammed Rafi's songs including Rafi Ki Yaadein, a collection early in his career, which was re-released in Rafi's memory in September 2007 as a six-disc collection of 100 songs, titled Kal Aaj Aur Kal. In 2008, soon after releasing Classically Mild, he released a single Punjabi track entitled "Punjabi Please" and Rafi Resurrected, a two-disc collection of Rafi songs with music by the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He contributed to the lyrics of several songs and directed the music for his album Chanda Ki Doli.
Sonu has always been loved and respected by the Bollywood industry. Among the new generation of singers, Lata Mangeshkar loves Sonu the most.Shah Rukh Khan has been always seen heaping praises on Sonu whom he considers as an true artiste.Shankar Mahadevan considers Sonu Nigam as his favorite singer in recent times. Music director Himesh Reshammiya also believes that Sonu is the best singer in the industry. Filmmaker Shirish Kunder is full of praises for Sonu. Shekhar of Vishal-Shekhar duo considered him as the finest live performer. Even Shaan who is one of his contemporaries admiring him from a long time. Singing sensation Armaan Malik idolizes Sonu Nigam as his God and Guru draws a lot of inspiration from him.
After the death of Michael Jackson, Nigam released a song as a tribute to Jackson which was included on the tribute album The Beat of Our Hearts.
In July 2008, he participated in a three-city tour of the United Kingdom, singing Rafi songs with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) . This followed the release of these songs by the CBSO and the Indian music company Sa Re Ga Ma on Rafi Resurrected.
He participated in a US tour with Sunidhi Chauhan in 2009 called The Explosion 2009 tour and in a UK tour titled All Izz Well in November 2010. In 2011, Nigam collaborated with Kakas Entertainment and Laxmikant-Pyarelal for a Maestros Concert performing Mohammed Rafi songs.
His songs include "Cheluve Yeke Bande", from the film Majnu, composed by Gurukiran; "Titanic Heroine Nee Nanna Cheluve", from the film Snehaloka; the title track from the film Monalisa composed by Valisha Sandeep; "Hamsave Hamsave" from the film Gatti Mela, composed by Hamsalekha, "Kannale Kannale" from the film Aham Premasmi, composed by V.Ravichandran and "Baaninda Baa Chandira, from the movie Kanti, composed by Gurukiran. The 2006 film Mungaru Male created a sensation and spawned several records, mainly in Karnataka.
The songs "Mungaru Maleye" and "Anisuthide" were composed by Mano Murthy and written by Yogaraj Bhat and Jayant Kaikini respectively. Nigam has said that he finds Kannada songs more fulfilling than the Hindi numbers. In an interview with Deccan Herald he said "Kannada songs make me feel positive". He went on to say: "I highly respect the musicians of Karnataka and many of my favourite songs are in Kannada. I consider Bangalore as my second birthplace. Even if someone requests me to sing a Kannada song while I'm performing in the West Indies, I will sing it for them".
Sonu Nigaam during a Peace Rally in Mumbai on 20 November 2011
Nigam hosted the TV show Kisme Kitna Hai Dum on Star Plus in 2002. He appeared as the judge on Indian Idol in seasons 1 (October 2004 – March 2005) and 2 (November 2005 – April 2006), and was a celebrity judge in seasons 3 (17 August 2007) and 4 (16 January 2009 and 6 February 2009).
On 23 August 2015, he appeared on "The Anupam Kher Show" sharing his life experiences. He has been also one of the three judges of Indian Idol 2016–17.
Film and voice-over acting
Nigam's acting career started as a child in films including Betaab (1983). As an adult, he acted in films such as Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani, Kash Aap Hamare Hote and Love in Nepal. He has been signed to be in Ankhon Ankhon Mein, about a blind singer. Nigam provided the voice for the lead character, in the Hindi dubbed version of Aladdin.
Awards and honors
Sonu Nigam receiving the Best Male Playback Singer Award from the President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
Gave both the Hindi Speaking and Singing voice to Aladdin in this film. Dubbed by Modi Entertainment.
His tweets against making the Azaan (Muslim call for prayer) through loudspeakers had landed him in controversy. In his tweet he stated that Azaan through loudspeakers disturbs his sleep. He later clarified that he is not against any specific religious ritual, but against the use of loudspeakers on religious buildings. He clarified that noise pollution should be stopped, irrespective of whether it is from a temple or a mosque. Later, Nigam again sparked controversy, when he posted a video of Azaan from his home which proved that he was indeed disturbed very early in the morning. Syed Sha Atef Ali Al Quaderi, vice president of West Bengal United Minority Council announced a reward of ₹10 Lakh to anyone who shaved Nigam's head, to which Sonu Nigam responded by shaving his own head to claim the reward.
Nigam has deleted his Twitter account on 24 May 2017, citing a lack of respect for freedom of speech.
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