He held the mic for the first time at 3(!) performing Rafi saab's kya hua tera vaada on stage with his father. Sonu Nigam got his first break as a playback singer at 17. Zee TV's Sa Re Ga Ma, at 22 gave him much popularity. He'd become a household name by then. Singers like Kumar Sanu and Udit Narayan reigned the 90s. Sonu, along with Shaan, came into the limelight in the latter half of that decade.
His Yeh Dil Deewana... (for Shahrukh) from Subhash Ghai's Pardes (1997) got him in the celluloid spotlight. Some of his hits during that time include:
Sandese aate hai - Border (1997)
Satrangi re - Dil se (1998)
Pehli pehli baar baliye, Mujhe raat din - Sangharsh (1999)
Aisa lagta hai - Refugee (2000)
Having worked with almost every music composer then, Sonu had finally become the most sought after singer in the hindi film industry. Newbies like KK, Atif Aslam, Mohit Chauhan (of 'masakali' fame) may be the flavor of the season, but Sonu is a timeless favorite. What I admire most is his versatility. He can carry off classical stuff (soona soona from his album Classically Mild) with the same ease and honesty as a playful number like all izzz well (3 Idiots) or a romantic number like tumhi dekho naa (Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna).
He's lent his voice to some of Bollywood's most beautiful romantic numbers.
Suraj hua maddham - Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (2001)
Jaage jaage armaan hai - Mere Yaar ki Shadi Hai (2002)
Kal ho naa ho... - Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003)
As he completes his 37 years next week, here's wishing him another successful 37 years ahead. Way to go!