To say that Dya Singh travels the world creating and spreading music, passion and happiness is not an overstatement. Originally from Malaysia, his father was a renowned Sikh spiritual minstrel from Punjab, and Dya learnt the Sikh songs and the art of singing beside his father in the Sikh ‘Gurudwaras’ from the age of five onwards. I was surprised to hear that he is no stranger to Sarawak. Dya was in Sarawak several times as a kid and as an adult; the first time was in 1964, and he told us that he still has fond memories of visiting family and of cycling around Kuching.
Dya Singh was one of the ‘mystic’ artist at the 2016 Rainforest World Music Festival. And Dya Singh’s connection to world music is absolutely clear: his impact on the world music stage has been nothing short of phenomenal. In Australia, the country he is based in, he has been one of the pioneers in the development of new Australian ‘World’ music. He sings about spirituality in his native Punjabi (with occasional English explanations) and he has single-handedly taken the traditional Sikh spiritual music of his ancestral Punjab into the world music stage. His music is a form that originated in Punjab and later spread throughout the western World with the diaspora of Sikhs worldwide.
Dya Singh group was formed in 1993 after Dya had stopped singing publicly for almost fifteen years. Their first concerts were presented in Australia, where he is acknowledged as the most significant singers and master musical interpreter of the centenary traditional Sikh hymns with diverse influences from around the globe.
Their performance at the Theatre Stage of 2016 Rainforest World Music Festival, accompanied by Dheeraj Shrestha at the tabla as well as his own daughter Gimel, was many things in one. It was hypnotic and uplifting, reaching out from his source indigenous music to fusion with contemporary music trends from other parts of the world for the perfect blend. The performance was intense and informative with interactions and improvisations between the musicians. Their creative and spiritual stage style conveyed a great sense of joy, a confirmation that music is transformational in that no matter what the context. Dya Singh music is soothing and inspirational, taking to you by the hearth and uplifting you with compelling rhythms. Through music, improvisations and messages delivered in chants and in words in between songs, Dya Singh gives a message that speaks of respect and love. They advocate and speak about greening and revegetation, peace and universal harmony, for a result that is much more than world music: it is a music that can change the world.
Nowadays Dya Singh travels widely throughout the world and is highly acclaimed by both Sikh and alternative mainstream audiences. Their achievements include the release of over 26 CDs, of which some have been recorded by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation & sponsored by various Federal & State Government Departments. Dya Singh has twice been awarded ‘Instrumentalist of the year’ by SAMIA (South Australian Music Industry awards), and the group has has twice been nominated ‘World Music Group of the year’ winning it once. Their International tours – USA, England, Canada, Singapore, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Singapore, Thailand & Malaysia, UAE (Dubai) and Kenya – have included arts, folk, new-age, world and sacred music festivals worldwide such as WOMADelaide, Woodford Folk Festival, Singapore Arts Festival, Vancouver Folk Festival, Winnipeg Folk Festival and the California World Music Festival,
At the Closing Ceremony of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, in December 2009, His Holy Highness – The Dalai Lama said: “Dya Singh is the true messenger of the universal message of Amritsar – the holy city of the Sikhs – and its Golden Temple. He and his group remind me of the Golden Temple – not as a holy shrine of the Sikhs alone, but a holy shrine of all people.”
Dya Singh is available for performances, concerts, conducting ceremonies, kirtan and short tours. For more of Dya Singh’s music:
Browse Rainforest World Music Festival for future dates at www.rwmf.net