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Top 10 moments of Atma Ahir

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BRITISH Asian music veteran Atma Ahir has been lighting up the bhangra scene ever since the early 1990s.

His interesting career has seen him go from founding the award-winning act Geet The Mega Band to carving out a solo career. The singer recently released his catchy Punjabi track, Morni, written by Somal Mouliwala and set to music by Harbans Azaad.

Eastern Eye got him to reflect on his musical journey and select 10 memorable moments. He said: “Music has been an important part of my life and has gifted me so many beautiful memories, so it’s difficult to select just 10. Here are the ones that come to mind, but there are many more.”

Childhood: During my childhood in India, I was more interested in playing with friends than studying, so I failed fourth grade twice. I was a naughty child who used to steal sugarcane, melons and mangoes from other people’s farms. Thankfully, everyone loved me, as I was also very kind and loving. It was my passion for performing and singing that ultimately set me on the right track. That started me on my wonderful career in music.

First break: In the early years, I used to sing at home and at college with friends, but I never took it seriously. I was more interested in acting. To get my equity card (for acting), I needed work, which I got through performing session work with other bands. That’s when I took up singing and was approached by the late Balwinder Safri. He had seen me singing and helped launch my career with the band, Geet Sangeet. After that, I formed Geet The Mega Band. (I also got an equity card, which enabled me to do walk-on parts in TV shows such as The Bill, Casualty and Boon).

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Top 10 inset awesome album 0bf 60

Winning the Asian contest in 1988: Winning the Asian song contest with Geet The Mega Band at The Dome in Birmingham was such a great platform. That was a great beginning for me and the band; it gave us so much confidence. The stepping stone into the music industry provided by Muhammad Ayyub ji of (record label) Oriental Star Agencies was special because they were the pioneers of south Asian music overseas.

Awesome album: After two years of hard work, we recorded our first album as a band, No Problem. It was released by Oriental Star Agencies and became a massive hit. It was number one on the UK as well as international charts for many weeks. I still remember when it crossed 25,000 in sales and earned us a gold disc. This was at a time when there were no social media platforms to promote it. Wordof-mouth publicity turned it into a hit.

Further awards: Winning a best newcomer award as a band in 1991-1992 at the Asian Pop awards organised by Amarjit Sidhu at The Dome in Birmingham was special. It provided such a great platform for new bands and solo artists to display their talent. I was proud to be part of that. As a new band, it gave us great exposure and led us towards performing at packed venues around the country.

Live performances: Being on stage has always been the biggest thrill and there have been many memorable performances. After No Problem became a huge hit, we toured India and performed live in Mumbai for the film industry. A performance in Agra and another at the internationally renowned Womad Festival are also memorable. There were many other stage shows and wedding performances that generated so much joy.

Top 10 inset Hans Raj Hans atma ahir 41 47 2
With Hans Raj Hans

Hans Raj Hans: This career has enabled me to meet so many musical greats, but one that stands out is Hans Raj Hans. Becoming a student of the legendary singer not only helped me improve my singing skills, but also taught me so much about music and enabled me to understand myself better. I remember travelling to India every six months to receive music lessons from ustadji.

T-Series: Today T-Series is perhaps the biggest Asian record label in the world. Working with them was everyone’s dream in the early years.

Travelling to India and signing up with such a big label was special. Releasing my two albums, Dil Mang Lai and Vanjara, along with filming a music video in Mumbai was a great achievement and a moment of pride.

Top 10 inset Morni 000px

Morni: My latest EP has taken nearly three years to complete and includes the song, Morni. My father had passed away due to the coronavirus when I first started on these tracks, so I put the record on hold. I finally went back to the studio and completed the songs, as that is what my father would have wanted. I released Morni on my own label, Heer Records, and it has received a positive response.

People: Finally, the greatest musical moments have come from those who have appreciated my music. From those who came to watch our band perform live in the early days, to anyone who has listened to my songs, I am truly grateful to every well-wisher. As artists, we make music for the people and if they are happy, then so are we.

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