Dya Singh's impact on the world music stage has been short of phenominal. He sings about spirituality in his native Punjabi (with occasional English explanations) and blends traditional music with modern and contemporary trends. He has single-handedly taken the traditional Sikh spiritual music of his ancestral Punjab (frontier province on the border of present day India and Pakistan, south of Afghanistan) into the world music stage reaching out from his source indigenous music to fusion with music from other parts of the world. He attributes his unique music to his birth and formative years in multiracial Malaysia, to staunch Sikh parents (his father was a Sikh missionary and minstrel sent to Malaysia from Punjab), and the multicultural opportunities in Australia. Today Dya Singh heads one of the foremost 'world' music groups in Australia named after him and has nine albums in ten short years. The group was born in 1993. He has twice been awarded 'Instrumentalist of the year' by SAMIA (South Australian Music Industry awards). The group has twice been nominated 'World Music Group of the year' winning it once. In the year 2000, Dya Singh was awarded "Male Artiste of the Year" by the Australian World Music Organization. The group now travels widely throughout the world and is highly acclaimed by both Sikh and alternative mainstream audiences.
The basis of the music is Sikh (spiritual), Punjabi and North Indian (in that order). This, being Dya Singh's narrower background. It then embraces music virtually from any other part of the globe including blues, jazz, folk (all kinds), country & western, country, Australian indigenous, bush, etc. The only criteria laid is that it should enhance the universal spiritual messages of truth, love, peace, harmony, equality and justice that Dya Singh stands for. Influences to date within the music of Dya Singh include Vietnamese zither (dang thranh), Southern European gypsy violinist, European flute, Polish dolcimer, blues and electric guitar, bouzouki, didgeridoo, Nepalese drums and tabla, Irish bohdran and irish fiddle.
Dya Singh believes Sikh music needs radical 'evolution' towards universality and greater acceptability especially to the younger generation of Sikhs especially those born overseas (outside India). The only other group of Sikhs who appear to be doing something towards this greater universality of Sikh music are white American Sikhs who have effectively introduced gurbani (Sikh scriptures) to western music.
The music of Dya Singh firstly digs deep into the vast reservoir of Sikh and Punjabi classical, spiritual and folk music. It then reaches out to music from other parts of humankind, giving it a truly universal feel. This helps to portray the universal messages as espoused in the holy writings of Sikh and other Indian sages included in the holy scriptures and 'guru' of the Sikhs, the Guru granth Sahib.
Dya Singh sings in his native Punjabi with the occasional explanation in English. But the true joy and upliftment of the music of Dya Singh is the spiritual feelings and passion with which the group presents its music and sentiments.
Daya Singh can be contacted at DyaSingh@Khalsa.com