Jasraj was born on 28 January 1930 in Pili Mandori, a village in the Hisar district of Haryana (now Fatehabad district) in a middle-class family to Motiram, a classical singer. Motiram died in 1934 when Jasraj was four, on the day he was to be appointed as the state musician in the court of Osman Ali Khan. Jasraj's elder brother, Pandit Pratap Narain, was also an accomplished musician. Pandit Pratap Narain was the father of music composer duo Jatin-Lalit, of singer-actress Sulakshana Pandit and of actress Vijeta Pandit.
Jasraj spent his youth in Hyderabad, and travelled often to Sanand in Gujarat to study music with musicians of the Mewati gharana. The Thakur Sahib of Sanand was deeply dedicated to classical music, and was an accomplished musician himself. He had collected around him a court of scholarly and accomplished musicians, and a lot of Jasraj's musical training happened in this environment. In 1946, Jasraj moved to Kolkata, where he began singing classical music for radio.
Jasraj is married to Madhura Shantaram, the daughter of film director V. Shantaram, whom he had first met in 1960 in Mumbai. They married in 1962, initially living in Kolkata, and moved to Mumbai in 1963. They have two children, a son, Shaarang Dev Pandit, and a daughter, Durga Jasraj, a television anchor and presenter. Jasraj's wife Madhura has directed documentaries and children's plays, and directed and produced ballets, Geeta-Govinda, Kaan Kahaani and Surdas, and the TV series, Faster Phene. Madhura made a film, Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj in 2009 and directed her first Marathi film, Aai Tuzha Aashirwad, in 2010, in which her husband and Lata Mangeshkar sang in Marathi.
Jasraj was initiated into vocal music by his father, but initially trained as an accompanist, playing the tabla at vocal performances by his brother, the singer Maniram. He credits the vocalist, Begum Akhtar, as being his inspiring him to take up classical music. Jasraj began training as a vocalist at the age of 15, and performed his first stage concert as a vocalist at the age of 22. Before becoming a stage performer, Jasraj worked as a performing artist on radio for several years.
He initially trained as a classical vocalist with his brother, Maniram, and later with the musician and vocalist Jaywant Singh Waghela and Gulam Kadar Khan of Mewat Gharana. In addition, he trained under Swami Vallabhdas of the Agra Gharana.
Although Jasraj belongs to the Mewati gharana, a school of music known for its traditional performances of khayals, Jasraj has sung khayals with some flexibility, adding elements of lighter styles, including the thumri, to khayal singing. During the initial stages of his career he was criticised for incorporating elements from other schools of music, or gharanas, into his singing. Music critic S. Kalidas has noted, however, that this borrowing of elements across gharanas has now become more commonly accepted.
Jasraj created a novel form of jugalbandi called Jasrangi that is styled on the ancient system of moorchhana, between a male and a female vocalist, who each sing different ragas at the same time. He is also known for presenting a variety of rare ragas including Abiri Todi and Patdeepaki.
In addition to performing classical music, Pandit Jasraj has worked to popularise semi-classical musical styles, such as Haveli Sangeet, which involves performances inside temples. Additionally, he has also sung classical and semi-classical compositions for film soundtracks, such as the song, 'Vandana Karo,' composed in Raag Ahir Bhairav by the composer Vasant Desai, for the film Ladki Sahyadri Ki (1966). Other notable film performances include a collaboration with the Indian classical vocalist Bhimsen Joshi for the soundtrack of the film Birbal My Brother (1975), and a ballad, Vaada Tumse Hai Vaada for a horror film directed by Vikram Bhatt, titled1920 (2008).
In memory of his father, Jasraj organises a musical festival every year called the Pandit Motiram Pandit Maniram Sangeet Samaroh in Hyderabad, India. The festival has been held annually since 1972. Jasraj participated at the Sawai Gandharva Music Festival.
On 28 January 2017, the production house Navrasa Duende celebrated Jasraj's 87th birthday and 80 years of his service to music as a classical music concert with the title 'My Journey', an Intimate Evening with Pandit Jasraj at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi. He received a standing ovation.
Jasraj has tutored several students who have gone on to perform as classical musicians including Sanjeev Abhyankar, Kala Ramnath, Tripti Mukherjee, Suman Ghosh, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Anuradha Paudwal, Sadhana Sargam, Shankar Mahadevan, and Ramesh Narayan.
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