Sonu Nigam or Sonu Niigaam (Hindi: सोनु निगम; born July 30, 1973 in Faridabad, Haryana, India) is a highly acclaimed Indian playback singer whose songs have been featured in numerous Bollywood and Kannada movies. He has also released numerous Indi-pop albums and acted in a few Hindi feature films. He recently changed the spelling of his last name from 'Nigam' to 'Niigaam' in accordance with numerology.
Early years and playback singing
Sonu Nigam began his singing career at the age of three, when he joined his father on stage to sing Mohammad Rafi's "Kya Hua Tera Wada". Then on, he accompanied his father on his singing assignments at weddings and parties. In his teenage years, he participated in several music competitions successfully. He moved to Mumbai with his father to begin his Bollywood singing career at the age of 18.
His initial years in Mumbai proved to be a struggle, and he started by singing covers of Mohammad Rafi songs, mainly for the "Rafi Ki Yaadein" album series. These albums contributed to his label for some time as a "Rafi clone." His first movie song as a playback singer was in the movie, "Janum" (1990), which was never officially released. He got a break as a playback singer in Gulshan Kumar's movie, "Aaja Meri Jaan". He then sang the song, "Accha Sila Diya", for the album, "Bewafa Sanam" (1995), which gave him the recognition as an established playback singer.
Sonu started hosting "Sa Re Ga Ma," a television singing talent competition, which soon became one of the most popular shows on Indian television. The first episode of "Sa Re Ga Ma" was aired on May 1, 1995. Singing offers poured in thereafter, though slowly at first. He rose to fame with the song, "Sandese Aate Hain", in Border (1997). Anu Malik was the music director of this movie. Sonu's image as a Rafi clone changed after his rendition of the Nadeem-Shravan composed song, "Yeh Dil Deewana" in Pardes (1997). Since then, he has created a unique style of his own, and has become a role model for budding male singers in India.
Over the years, Sonu has become a major force in the Indian music industry. He has provided playback singing for a large number of Hindi movies and won many awards. His rendition of Kal Ho Na Ho has been highly popular. He is recognised for his versatile voice as well as excellent emotion range. Sonu has sung with clear pronunciations, in many languages besides Hindi, including Bengali, Oriya, Kannada, Punjabi,Tamil, Telugu, English, Bhojpuri, Urdu, Nepali and Marathi.
His 2008 playback songs include songs from Yuvvraaj and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, in which he sings a song paying tribute to yesteryear Bollywood actors like Raj Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Shammi Kapoor, Dev Anand and Rishi Kapoor. The song is picturised on Shahrukh Khan and the music direction is by Salim-Sulaiman.