MASTER percussionist Gubzy Singh Lackhanpal has had a magnificent career filled with magical moments.
The dynamite dhol player and tabla maestro has performed in over 46 countries, with leading artists that include Malkit Singh, DCS, Apache Indian, Beverly Knight, AS Kang, Sukshinder Shinda, Hans Raj Hans, Surinder Shinda, Balwinder Safri, Bally Sagoo, Jasmine Sandalas, Manmohan Waris, Kamal Heer, Pardesi, Ranjit Bawa, Amy Virk and many others.
The Birmingham-based talent has played on hit songs and expanded his career into music production. He is currently working on a world music album set to release in 2024.
Eastern Eye got the award-winning British maestro to select highlights from his actionpacked career. Gubzy said: “From being guided by my father Jaswant Singh Lackhanpal as a youngster to learning from great masters and performing globally with international artists, I have been blessed with great memories. Here are 10 in no particular order.”
Orchestra: I have performed with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) on numerous occasions, including Citizen Khan: Under The Sitars, which was a unique show connected to the sitcom at Birmingham Symphony Hall. In 2023, it was taken to another level at the BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall in London, where I performed with the CBSO for a sold-out Lata Mangeshkar tribute concert, celebrating the late great singer’s magnificent legacy.
Award: It is always great to be recognised for your hard work. The best musician trophy at the 2018 UK Bhangra Awards was particularly special because it was voted for by the public. It was a great reminder of all the hours of hard work I had put into my craft.
Learning: It takes a lifetime to learn different aspects of music and even that is not enough. I had no intention of teaching until my high school music teacher Mrs Williams asked me to do a workshop for students at Shireland Collegiate Academy. It turned into a full-time job from 2007-2019, which I balanced with my music career. It was so very satisfying for me to give back to the community. In many ways, it led me back into education after a successful career and enabled me to graduate in 2016 with a first-class degree in music production and performance. It was something I had always wanted to achieve and was inspirational to other students.
Malkit Singh: I have had many great performances with bhangra legend Malkit Singh, which included The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles – to be on a stage that great legends like The Beatles had performed at was magical. I also performed with him and The Pussycat Dolls at the golden jubilee celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II in 2002, which was an amazing early experience.
Apache Indian: I have performed with Apache Indian all over the world, including his 30th anniversary tour in 2023. Between 2004-2006, I did a world tour with the music legend, which took us to 26 countries. This included world-famous festivals like Womad and Summer Jam, along with international venues like Lincoln Centre in New York. This world tour was one of the best parts of my career – to perform in front of mostly non Asian crowds was challenging but rewarding. Taking folk instruments of tabla and dhol globally to promote the culture is always an honour. Performing with Apache Indian, Fleur East and the Reggae Revolution Band in 2021 on the BBC’s One Show was also memorable.
Debut single: Producing and releasing music was something I always had a passion for. My first single in 2012 was Midland Boyz with my father Jashi. The video was shot in Birmingham featuring leading names like Malkit Singh, Apache Indian, Shin DCS, Musical Youth and Kash ‘the flash’ Gill. The track went to number one in the world music charts within a few hours of release.
Melas: I have been blessed to perform at some of the world’s leading venues and biggest stages. The Birmingham & Sandwell mela was special because it was my home city. We performed with students in front of 80,000 people. Taking students from the local academy to gain experience and confidence in front of massive crowds was an amazing thing to be part of.
Songs: From a very young age, I have been fortunate to be around recording artists and subsequently got a very good understanding in studios. I have been lucky enough to record for some of the biggest bhangra anthems to date, including Captain Bhangre Da (Ravi Bal & Daljit Mattu), Mama Bada Great and Maa (Malkit Singh), Hoor (Balwinder Safri), Punjabi & U Know It (DCS) and many more. Being able to perform on many recordings, which have now become classics has been a blessing.
Movie: It was great to be approached by one of the music directors to perform on some songs for the Punjabi film Shadaa. The 2019 film starring Diljit Dosanjh was a huge success around the world.
Concert: I recently performed at the year’s biggest bhangra concert at Birmingham Symphony Hall, headlined by Panjabi MC and Tru Skool. Being on stage with the artists, recreating classic tracks and performing them live was magical. It adds to the wonderful moments I have had on stage. I hope to have many more.