The hallmark of the "Great musician's" often lies in their ability to hone to perfection a strong and easily assimilated iconic, but singular image. It may evolve slowly and surely over the years but will always be presumed to be a natural maturing. Daler Mehndi, as a musician, performer and song - writer, defied this convention completely. He continually re-invented himself and his art at breakneck speed and illogical disjointedness.
It seemed as though time was always at a premium. With complete disregard for the then prevalent - regional- Punjabi- music style loyalty or so called integrity, he combined the most unlikely forms of music with newfound subject matter sprinkled with his fetish for "RabRab" (God) words, rendered with versatile Power Pitched Vocals, performed with exquisite choreography and character, ornamented further with the signature self designed Maharaja Robes, Bejewelled Turban and Jewellery - a Style only befitting a Maharaja presenting the then unknown and unborn Indian Pop Industry with its first true Pop Icon.
He deconstructs that which makes him singular, and then a new element arises to confound and entice the masses who think they have just figured out his latest incarnation. His USP was his Originality. Mehndi exemplifies the new aesthetic from his humble folkie yet celebrated beginnings from Bolo Ta Ra Ra to the glitter and glam of the rocking Balle Balle & Jalwa, to the pied piper rage of Tunak Tunak , to the elegance of Ru -Ba -Ru & Shaam Say Maine Puchha, at each twist and turn of his career, creating more than one myth to harken back to his creative visions.
Daler Singh was born in Patna, Bihar on August 18th, 1967. This is the same town where the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh was also born some 300 old years earlier. Daler was born into a family of musicians who had been singing for seven generations. His early influences on music are his parents, who taught him the ragas and Shabad's from the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. At age 11 inspired by the Patiala Gharana style of Indian Classical Music, he ran away from home in search of the Late Ustad Raahat Ali Khan Sahib of Gorakhpur for lessons. Gave his first stage performance in front of an audience of 20,000 at the age of 13 in Jaunpur where his parents found him standing center-stage, his shoulders overflowing with garlands of flowers, sandalwood and money.
Classical music of the great Indian Maestros heard on radio, concerts and cassettes of the legendary Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Nazakat Ali- Salamat Ali, Mehdi Hasan, Parvaiz Mehdi, Chote Ghulam Ali Khan and the Illahi Kirtan Durbars attended all over India provided him with an introduction into the world of gurmat sangeet, thumri, khayal, ghazal.
By 1991, he formed his own group comprising of his brother's, cousins and musician friends. Daler performed at the Who's Who and within a year was a must have at each socialite's do. The legendary Impressario the Late A.J Jaspal of IPCA who gave Daler a Professional set up promoted Daler "as the Golden Goose to Watch out for." In 1994, A J Jaspal sent Daler to compete at the prestigious annual Voice of Asia International Ethnic and Pop Music Contest at Azia Dynasys in ALMATY, Kazakhstan. Daler Mehndi representing India was judged 2nd amongst 200 contestants from world over by 20,000 strong audience. He was quoted by the judges as the 'MOST ORIGINAL SOUND FOUND IN 3 DECADES'.
That was the first time Bhangra Music was acknowledged outside Punjab (a Northern State of India) and firmly plastered its presence on the global scenario. Daler Mehndi saw himself at an International setting amidst an alien audience craving for more and critics lapping him with accolades and praises which provided him with an introduction to the showy world of Pop and mod, and by 1995 he was Daler Mehndi, with long flowing robes, bejeweled turban and aspirations of stardom rustling about his head. Mr. Shashi Gopal of Magnasound signed him immediately for a 3 Album Contract for 3 years.