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British award for Malkit Singh

May 08, 2008 10:54 IST

Bhangra singer Malkit Singh became the first Punjabi singer to be honoured by Queen Elizabeth II at the Buckingham Palace here with the award of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

"I was overwhelmed by the honour and could not control my tears of joy," 45-year-old Malkit Singh told PTI after receiving the award on Wednesday.

Twelve other Indians were also conferred MBE honours and two others received Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Singh said the Queen was pleased to see him in the typical bhangra dress. She told me "I like your dress and I am fond of Indian music. It is an honour not only for me but for all Indians. I am proud of it," he said.

Singh said when he came to the UK in 1984 there were many other famous bhangra groups including Aalap and Hira groups. But by sheer hard work and dedication he was able to make a mark globally.

He said for Indian visitors, taking a photograph outside the Buckingham Palace is a rare memento. "I never thought that I would have the honour of receiving the award from the Queen inside the Palace," he said.

Recalling his journey from Husseinpur village of Jalandhar district to London, Singh said his mother would have been happy to be present at the celebration but unfortunately she passed away in January this year.

Singh produced 21 albums and all became a hit.

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry established in 1917 by King George V.

Singh was also felicitated by Des Pardes, a Punjabi weekly on Wednesday night.

After receiving the award, Singh went to the Southall Gurdwara where he was felicitated on receiving the honour.

Singh has performed live in over 28 countries around the world and has taken his music from the Punjabi vernacular to cross-cultural experiments ranging from rap and reggae to the Hindi film screens.

From the classic debut song Nach Gidde Wich, the infectious feel-good Gurh Nalo Ishq Mitha -- Boliyan, his trade-mark anthem Tootak Tootak Thootian (Hey Jamalo), his songs became the benchmark sound of the 1980s.

He was bestowed with the honour of being the biggest selling bhangra artist in the world, recognised by the Millennium Edition of the Guinness Book of World Records in 2000.