Every music generation has its originators and pioneers, groups or artists who through fate or purpose are destined to become the ones chosen to create new music trends through their originality and stage presence. There are endless examples in the mainstream music industry, Elvis Presley in the Rock & Roll era, James Brown in the Soul music scene, The Beatles in the Pop and Alaap in the Bhangra.

 

Formed in 1977 by founder and lead singer Channi Singh, Alaap started out performing in temples and at small functions. They did not know that soon they were about to take over the world of Bhangra music by storm.

 

Channi was born in Salar Village (Punjab). During his childhood he had keen interests in music and singing. He would often sing the song ‘Mera man dole mera tan dole’ from the film ‘Nagin’ in exchange of a paisa when requested by his teacher. He graduated from the Government College, Malerkotla and then completed his MA in English Literature at the D.A.V. College, Jallandhar. During his studies, he won many awards and medals all over India in various cultural and sport activities, which included singing, Bhangra dancing and surprisingly wrestling. He learnt music from Professor Baldev Narang, a maestro in classical music and wanted to pursue his talent further, although he studied to be a lecturer in English. He did this by auditioning at the Jallandhar Radio Station and also for some recording companies, but every time he was rejected.

 

In 1976, Channi moved to England and soon realised that the Asian community, particularly the youngsters, had very few links with their cultural heritage. Channi believed that music would be the best approach in educating them about their cultural roots and due to this he thought of forming his own band. It was sheer destiny that soon after Channi arrived in England, he met a few talented musicians who later became his fellow group members. This was the beginning of a new era and the birth of Alaap. Fusing eastern and western instrumentation, Channi and Alaap created a new modern sound and became responsible for changing the entire face of Punjabi music.

 

During their illustrious career, Channi and Alaap have achieved much to be proud of. They have created history by breaking barriers and opening doors for Bhangra music in the mainstream, invited by world renowned figures, world music organisations and mainstream TV channels to represent Punjabi culture. Channi is also the first British Asian to compose and direct music for big banner Bollywood films such as Feroz Khan’s ‘Yalgaar’, ‘Janasheen’ and K.C. Bokadia’s ‘Shaktiman’ to name a few.

 

Channi and Alaap have received countless awards from various organisations worldwide in recognition of their contribution to the Asian music scene. In June 2012, a prestigious honour was bestowed on Channi when he became the first Punjabi music artist to be appointed an OBE from the Queen of England (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his services to Bhangra music, Charity and community work.

 

Alaap means ‘Leaders’ and in true sense they are the leaders of the modern Bhangra scene, which paved the way for many others to follow. Credited for pioneering modern Bhangra music around the globe for over 30 years, Channi and his band have become Bhangra icons. Fondly referred to as the ‘Godfathers of Bhangra’, Channi and Alaap have successfully continued their reign as the ‘the hottest and most successful Bhangra band in the history of the universe’.

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