Kids Corner


Rabbi Shergill's Punjabi Rock 'n' Roll & Funk





A graduate from Delhi’s Khalsa College, Rabbi Shergill was part of the local hard-rock music scene in his graduation days.

Inspired by Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Jimmy Page, Rabbi started writing his own songs and made a few demos too.

“I grew up in the 80’s, when the whole concept of western was like a zenith and one could not escape being a wannabe.”

He saw Springsteen perform in Delhi and after that, he says, “I always wanted to be him.”

Rabbi dropped out of his management course in the first year itself.

“I went to school just to please my mother and like all the Punjabi parents, even she had academic aspirations for me. I went along with it but deep down I hated it. And so, I dropped out of it and started creating music,” he recalls.


Defining his music, Rabbi clarifies, “Sufi is a misnomer for my music. I have just sung one Sufi song! My music is ‘rock and roll’ and ‘funk’ and I always keep thinking of ways to implement the funk into them.”

His latest album ‘Ganga’ also has a few of these elements. The album is all about a guy singing to a girl and telling her not to be deterred by the world and do her own thing. Listing his contemporary favourites, he reveals, “I love Shruti Haasan, I think she is a decent musician. I really like John Mayer. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music and a Bengali singer called Mou.”

Commenting on the rock culture scene in India, he opines, “Kids at college just learn to play guitar and form rock bands, which stick for a year or two. Then they either split or get into Bollywood. A lot of their music is not compelling, which is why they don’t last long.”

Thinking out of box

Explaining his creative process, he says, “I’m constantly trying to understand how I can step out of my own box. I think about all the things I want to talk about, get an idea and then somehow, magically some line appears. You can have a general idea about how to get there, but ultimately, it’s just pure magic.”

Rabbi’s flair for poetry can be traced back to his mother, who is a Punjabi poetess.

“Her poetry is amazing and yes, there’s a lot of poetry in my songs, which I would like to be considered as something that aspires to be poetry,” he explains.

Rabbi has given music for a Bollywood film, ‘Delhi Heights’. Though he loves composing original music tracks, he says performing has always been his first love. “Making music for films is a different area and I like doing it. But, performing will always be my first love. It depends on how things work out,” he adds.

Stint with Dewarists

Sharing his experience on the music show called the ‘Dewarists’, Rabbi recalls, “It was a fantastic experience and singing with Papon was an amazing experience. It was set in a very beautiful location in Kaziranga. I guess it will be one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.”

And like the romantics of old, he believes we are increasingly living in an artificial world. “We have to get out on to the streets, live in nature and discover ourselves. Big cities act like a pump that drains out everything. It is very irreconcilable,” he points out.



Conversation about this article

1: Arvinder Singh Khosla (Santa Clara, California, U.S.A.), January 10, 2012, 1:16 PM.

I remember him singing in one of the TV shows where he had sung a couple of songs. My interpretation was that he's not a sufi singer nor does he feel tied to being a Punjabi folk singer. I just hoped he knows that. He has a genre of his own and hope he achieves further heights in that. Disclaimer: I don't have any music knowledge. Just an avid listener.

2: Manjeet Shergill (Singapore), January 10, 2012, 6:38 PM.

I got a CD of Rabbi Shergill's songs - got a few people to listen to it. We all agreed it lacked something - the wow factor. One can only get better with time, focus and humility.

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