A familiar voice that is greatly missed by Punjabi music fans recently graced our Spotify playlists once again. This summer, artist and producer Ikky put out She’s the One featuring the beautiful vocals of the late Soni Pabla who passed away in 2006.
Soni Pabla was born in Bilaspur, Punjab and moved to Canada in 1994. He always had a passion for music and explored many other jobs to create a living, but music was always on his mind.
I remember being a little girl and making saris out of my mom’s old chunnis and putting on performances to Gal Dil Di and Boli Panieh. Pabla's music was a point of connection for my family, providing us with a moment to sing out loud and have a fun little dance party.
Now I find myself cruising down the road with the people I love, volume on full blast and experiencing that same magic once again.
Despite his short time in the industry, Pabla made an immense impact that is still felt today. He was a public favourite and just on the precipice of his fame when he tragically passed away from a heart attack at the young age of 30 while performing on stage in Brampton.
Twenty years ago, in 2002, Pabla, with the help of fellow musician, Rajinder Singh Raj, was signed to Planet Recordz to release his first album Heeray.
This was an immediate hit and led him to work with other industry big hitters such as Sukshinder Shinda, which gave us the album he is most remembered for, Gal Dil Di.
She’s the One features a beautiful tribute to the late singer through an art piece of Pabla created by Brampton artist, Harmanilla. The video also features other famous faces, such as Karan Aujla, and Tesher shown jamming out to the new song. It’s a video that is guaranteed to make your heart grow three sizes and put a smile on your face.
Four years into his career, the industry placed Pabla among the names of legends. Not a wedding reception or basement party goes by without his songs making an appearance.
Music has always been such an important part of Punjabi culture. Unfortunately, many legends in the Punjabi music industry also left this world at a young age. Amar Singh Chamkila was tragically assassinated alongside his wife, Amarjot, just before turning 28. The industry also lost U.K.-based artist, Kuly Ral of RDB at 35 to a brain tumour.
Another hall party hero is the evergreen Surjit Bindrakhia. Bindrakhia also passed at a young age due to cardiac arrest that was preceded by multiple hospitalizations and health issues. His legacy and voice remain alive through his son, Gitaz Bindrakhia.
Most recently, our community saw the untimely death of Sidhu Moosewala who, like Pabla, was at a turning point in his career—bringing together so many genres from around the world. Moosewala remains a part of history through putting Punjabi music on the worldwide map through his song 47 with U.K.-based artists Steel Banglez, MIST and Stefflon Don.
This pattern of untimely deaths in the Punjabi music industry gives us a moment to reflect on the high-stress and highly competitive environment that these singers live through. They give their heart and soul to their craft and leave nothing behind.
In Pabla’s case, he passed nearly 15 years ago, and still a new song with his vocals had the same, if not larger, reaction from the public as it did in his prime.
Soni Pabla continues to be a household name for those who love Punjabi music with a voice that has been in the hearts of every generation. Those who unfortunately passed young died doing what they loved, and their voice and magic continues on.
It really is true, legends never die, and their art lives on for eternity—and She’s the One is a testament to that.
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