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WHO'S WHO | The Southall Story
WHO’S WHO

WHO’S WHO

Trevor Baylis | Kuljit Bhamra | Gurinder Chadha | Juggy D  | Piara Singh Khabra | Cleo Laine | Avtar Lit | Shakila Maan | Gulam Noon | Pragna Patel | Ammy Phull | Poko | Channi Singh |

Trevor Baylis OBE

Trevor Baylis

Trevor Baylis

Trevor Baylis grew up in Southall, Middlesex, and attended North Primary School. His first job was in a Soil Mechanics Laboratory in Southall where a day-release arrangement enabled him to study mechanical and structural engineering at a local technical college.

He is best known for inventing the wind-up radio. Rather than using batteries or external electrical source, the radio is powered by the user winding a crank for several seconds. This stores energy in a spring which then drives an electrical generator to operate the radio receiver. He invented it in response to the need to communicate information about AIDS to the people of Africa.

In October 1997, Baylis was awarded the Order of the British Empire by the Princess Royal at Buckingham Palace. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate by Leeds Metropolitan University in June 2005. He now runs Trevor Baylis Brands plc, a company dedicated to helping inventors to develop and protect their ideas and to find a route to market.

Baylis has lived in Eel Pie Island for many years; he regularly attended jazz performances at the noted Eel Pie Island Hotel.

For further info on Trevor Baylis


Kuljit Bhamra MBE

Kuljit Bhamra

Kuljit Bhamra

Kenya-born Kuljit moved to Southall in 1968 and attended Beaconsfield Primary School, then Southall Grammar School (now Villiers High).

Perhaps one of the most inspiring and influential musician, composer and record producer on the British Asian music scene. Spearhead of the Bhangra movement, Kuljit has composed and produced over 2000 songs and is responsible for the rise to fame of numerous Bhangra and Bollywood stars. His hits including Rail Gaddi, Giddha Pao Haan Deo, Nachdi Di Gooth Khulgayee, Patel Rap & pyar Ka Hai Bari are still played at weddings today. His two albums with Gurdas Mann & Mahendra Kapoor (Peer Tere Jaan Di & Bhabi Gal Na Kari) became international hits.

He has worked, both independently and collaboratively, on film scores for over ten years, including the soundtrack for the award winning Bhaji on the Beach, A Winter of Love, Bend it Like Beckham and appearances on The Guru, The Four Feathers and more recently Alexander, Brick Lane and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.

Kuljit also worked on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s massive hit musical Bombay Dreams, for which he gave a truly breath-taking performance as on-stage percussionist. Kuljit went on to write the Indian music for the West End musical The Far Pavilions, which was described by The Independent as “An electrifying Indian score”. Other theatre productions include Deranged Marriage, Lion of Punjab, Hansel & Gretel, The Snow Queen, The Ramayana & Laila Majnun.

He was recently invited to be Honorary Fellow of Exeter University and was also the last Artistic Director of The Society For The Promotion of New Music in 2008/9 – the first British Asian to hold this post in its 60 year history..

His cutting edge projects and passion for creating systems whereby musicians from varied cultures can perform repetoire together earned him the prestigious award of MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list 2009. The citation reads ‘ For Services To Bhangra & British Asian Music’.

For further information on Kuljit Bhamra


Gurinder Chadha OBE

Gurinder Chadha

Gurinder Chadha

Anglo-Asian director Gurinder Chadha was born in Kenya, her parents lived there until the political dissension leading to Kenya’s independence drove them to move back to her grandfather’s native India. As citizens of India, which was still considered part of the British Empire at that time, they settled in Southall, West London in 1951.

Chadha began her career as a news reporter with BBC Radio, directed several award winning documentaries for the BBC, and began a fruitful alliance with the BFI and Channel Four who produced the 30-minute documentary, I’m English But… (1989). The film followed young English Asians who, unlike their parents, listen to Acid Bhangra, a mix of Punjabi bhangra and rap. In 1990, Chadha set up her own production company; Umbi Films. Her first dramatic film short was the 11-minute Nice Arrangement (1991) about a British-Asian wedding.

Chadha’s feature directorial debut, Bhaji on the Beach (1993) was an Asian feminist comedy with a cheeky wit and a more serious political and cultural theme. It traced the adventures of three generations of Anglo Asian women on holiday in the vacation spot Blackpool. After Bhaji, Chadha directed a two-part drama Rich Deceiver (1995), for the BBC, and continued to work on documentaries. She followed up her previous cult hit with What’s Cooking (2000), the story of four Los Angeles families on Thanksgiving weekend. Bend It Like Beckham (2002), is Chadha’s most commercial film to date, a comedy about an Asian girl who takes a fancy to football while trying to balance it with her parent’s demands. Beckham became a smash hit and one of the highest grossing home-produced films of 2002.

Further info The Cinema of Gurinder Chadha


Juggy D

Juggy D

Juggy D

Southall-based Juggy D got his name from his first name Jagwinder which became Juggy, and the D from his last name Dhaliwal.Juggy D has been performing since the age of 14. He made his breakthrough alongside Jay Sean. Juggy D has also appeared on numerous crossover singles with some of the biggest stars such as Madonna, Ricky Martin, Mary J Blige and Craig David.

Juggy D has also made a track collaborating with rising star Veronica and Rishi Rich in the Bollywood movie Hum Tum. He, Veronica, and Jay Sean also have guest appearances in the Bollywood film Kyaa Kool Hai Hum. They sing the track off Jay Sean’s album Me Against Myself, “One Night,” featuring added vocals from Veronica. He also is one of the first people to experiment with Bhangraton. Juggy’s own debut album, Juggy D, was released in 2004 and became the first Punjabi language album to enter the UK national charts.

For further information on Juggy D


Piara Singh Khabra

Piara Singh Khabra

Khabra

Piara Singh Khabra (20 November 1921 – 19 June 2007) was a British politician who served as the Labour Member of Parliament for Ealing Southall from 1992 until his death.

He was the fifth Asian, and the first Sikh, to become a British MP. From the retirement of Sir Edward Heath in 2001 until his death, Khabra was the oldest MP sitting in the House of Commons, and at the end of his career was the only sitting MP to have served in the forces during the Second World War.

For further info on Piara Singh Khabra


Cleo Laine DBE

Cleo Laine

Cleo Laine

Born in Southall on 8 October 1927, Cleo was brought up in Clarence Street and attended Featherstone Road School.

Cleo showed early singing talent, which was nurtured by her Jamaican father and English mother who sent her to singing and dancing lessons. It was not, however, until she reached her mid-twenties that she applied herself seriously to singing. She auditioned successfully for a band led by musician John Dankworth, under whose banner she performed until 1958, in which year the two were married.

In 1979 Cleo received an OBE from Her Majesty the Queen for services to music, and in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June 1997 she was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire. She has also been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Boston’s Berklee College of Music in the United States and, in the United Kingdom from Cambridge University, the University of York, the Open University and the University of Luton. In 1998 the Worshipful Company of Musicians awarded her their Silver Medal for a Lifetime Contribution to British Jazz, and the British Jazz Awards have recognised her a number of times, including with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.

She lives with her husband, John Dankworth in Wavendon, Buckinghamshire, where in 1969 they founded their first charity, The Wavendon Allmusic Plan, with the aim of helping people broaden their views about music through performance and musical education. In the converted stable block in the grounds of their home they established an arts centre that has since become internationally renowned. The Stables, Wavendon has been host to many world famous artistes.

For further information on Cleo Laine


DR Avtar Lit

Avtar Lit

Avtar Lit

A businessman whose first attempts at radio broadcasting were regularly shut down by the Department of Trade has been named Britain’s richest Asian media entrepreneur.

Avtar Lit, 55, founded Sunrise Radio as a pirate station in the 1980s. Now part of a legitimate broadcasting empire that turns over £50m a year, it is a far cry from the days when government officials would interrupt broadcasts and confiscate Sunrise’s equipment.

The Sunrise Radio group comprises the eponymous London analogue station and has expanded recently with the acquisition of Star FM and Time FM. It is expected to more than double pre-tax profits to £5m this year. Mr Lit’s UK wealth – the Sunrise group also owns businesses in India and Sri Lanka – is valued at £65m.

Mr Lit, whose Sunrise group commissioned the survey, said the Asian media rich list underlined changes within the Asian community in Britain. “Asians were known for corner shops. Now they are entering writing, media and broadcasting.” He added: “The community has new-found confidence and Asians are seen as a productive, hard-working community. They have this feeling that anything can be achieved and also the fact that Britain is a different place to what it was like 20 years ago. It was a lot less tolerant.”


Shakila Maan

Shakila Maan

Shakila Maan

Shakila Maan is an award winning British Director, based in West London. Her first feature film The Winter of Love (2001) was shot on location in Southall, London and opened the Raindance East Film Festival. The film is now available on DVD. Shakila won the Best Art Film at the Asolo Film Festival, in 2000 for her arts documentary Alone Together, a 30 minute documentary on the British artists Rabinder and Amrit Kaur Singh, examining the Mughal style of painting that the two artists work in whilst exploring contemporary British themes such as ‘O’ Come All Ye Re-eds’ is a portrait of Liverpool football club.

Creative Director of The Southall Story, Maan has been working in Southall since the early 1980’s: “Southall has been responsible for fashioning me both as an artist and activist and it would be true to say I am what I am because of Southall”.

Her graduation film Ferdous (Paradise) (1990) was picked up by Frameline Distributors in San Francisco, and widely screened in North America, UK, France and Australia. This innovative short film, shot on Super 8, explores the powerful themes of ‘deviant’ sexuality in Islam.

Maan has been at the forefront in creating radical and avant-garde British Asian theatre since the late 70’s. She set up her first theatre company Sahar Arts in 1978 where she wrote and directed a number of plays including Rani (1979) a Pakistani prostitute who makes it in suburbia and Spirits (1981) a doomed relationship between a young Brit Asian girl and a Rastafarian. She established Southall Asian & African Caribbean Arts Collective 1982, now known as Heritage Ceramics, and went on to study film at the London College of Printing.

Her work includes the cutting edge collaboration on Bhavani Bhavai (1999) with the creation of the character of ‘A woman in Southall’, performed and filmed on Southall Broadway. Bhavani Bhavai tells the story of untouchables and was inspired by a traditional Gujarati folk tale. In 2004, Shakila created and performed The Bride exploring the draconian immigration laws governing spouses entering the UK, when as victims of domestic violence women face destitution due to no recourse to public funds.

Performed under the banner of ‘Made in England’ with Parv Bancil’s company, Firebrand at The Contact Centre in Manchester, The Bride was received with acclaim and violent reactions with some audience members offended by the portrayal of a battered and bloodied Asian woman. Shakila’s other productions as writer and director for theatre include Not Just An Asian Babe (1997), a play exploring prostitution, religion, bi-sexuality, community and business politics, all set in a seedy night club and an abattoir. All Gods Angels (1998) is an intense and feisty monologue of a British Asian prostitute and her personal relationship with God that ends in tragedy in a London bed-sit. Not Just An Asian Babe and All Gods Angels were co-written with Parminder Sekhon.

Her other films include Restless Skies (2002) featuring Mamta Anand, The Line (2002) with Dev Sagoo in the lead, A Thousand Borrowed Eyes (1995) on Kathak dancer Nahid Siddiqui. In 2008, Shakila completed Zakhmẻ Dil (A Scarred Heart) for Save The Children Birmingham – Positive Press, a docu/drama on refugee young unaccompanied adults, telling their stories of treacherous journey of survival.

For further information on Shakila Maan


Sir Gulam Noon

Gulam Noon

Gulam Noon

Sir Gulam Noon founded Noon Products in 1989 and until September 2003 was also its Managing Director. After establishing several successful businesses in India, which he still operates, he settled in London in 1973 to set up Bombay Halwa Ltd (Royal Sweets) in Southall. The company, of which Sir Gulam is Chairman and Managing Director, specialises in Indian sweets, snack foods and aviation catering. He is a Trustee on the Board of several prominent charities. He served on the Board of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and was its President for a two-year term until 2003. He is a Director on the Board of numerous companies and Government bodies and has recently been appointed to the Board of Transport for London. He remains an energetic force at Noon Products and is still passionate about producing even more sophisticated varieties of high quality, authentic ready meals for an ever increasing market.

Listen to Sir Gulam talk about how his company has evolved from a small confectionary business to a national supplier of supermarket chains.


Pragna Patel

Pragna Patel

Pragna Patel

Pragna Patel is a founding member of the Southall Black Sisters (1979) and Women Against Fundamentalism and has worked as a coordinator and senior caseworker for SBS since 1982.Currently, she is the chair of SBS.

Pragna has written extensively on race, gender and religion and in 1993 won two Cosmopolitan Achievement Awards: in the Public Service category and was also the overall winner for the year.

In 2000 Pragna was nominated for the Emma Humphries Memorial Prize.

For further info visit the Southall Black Sisters website.


Ammy Phull

Ammy Phull

Ammy Phull

Ammy Phull, a Creative Director of The Southall Story, is a Commercial Photographer. He has long been an active participant in Arts, Entertainment and Education since graduating from LCP in the mid-eighties. The proceeding years have been spanned involvement with Arts Co-Operatives, Equality & Diversity Training, mobilising a PR Company and changing the face of teaching Modern Indian Dance in the community and in schools. For Ammy, each new image, choreography, or creation, needs to be unique and have the ability to make a statement. This ethos is present in his work across the private and public sector.

Being the photographer of the first ever Asian music publication, Ghazal & Beat (1987 on), inspired the professional. This also helped him to create a unique visual archive of a pro-active community. Ammy is adept at combining the sharp direction of the commercial world with the exuberance of the Arts. “Southall has been pivotal in honing the creative and the individual that I am, today.”


Poko

Poko

Poko

Lead singer of reggae band Misty in Roots. The group began life as a Southall-based British roots reggae band in the early 1970s. Their first album was 1979’s Live at the Counter Eurovision, a record full of Biblical Rastafarian songs. This powerful, atmospheric live album is a classic and often considered the best live reggae album ever. It was championed by radio DJ John Peel, helping to bring roots reggae to a white audience. At this early stage, the band was a collective with five lead singers and various musicians, though by the time of the second album the band had slimmed down to just three members. Along with Steel Pulse and Aswad, Misty in Roots were one of the most popular English reggae bands in the late 1970s.

In 1979 Clarence Baker, a member of the collective, was severely beaten and injured by the SPG during the protest in Southall against the National Front provocation. The punk band The Ruts who were partners of the People Unite cooperative honoured him in their song “Jah War” which appeared on their album The Crack.

After a break from recording in the 1990s, they returned, releasing a new album in 2002 and continuing to play concerts as of 2008[update].


Channi Singh

Channi Singh

Channi Singh

Born in Salar Village (Punjab), Channi Singh graduated from the Government College, Maler Kotla and then completed his MA in English Literature at the D.A.V. College, Jallandhar. During his studies, he won many awards and medals all over India in various cultural and sport activities, which included singing, Bhangra dancing and surprisingly wrestling. He learnt music from Professor Baldev Narang, a maestro in classical music, and wanted to pursue his talent further, although he studied to be a lecturer in English. He did this by auditioning at the Jallandhar Radio Station and also for some recording companies, but every time he got rejected. In 1975, he got married and moved to England to settle with his wife.

While in England, it took Channi a few months to realise that the Asian community, particularly the youngsters, had very few links with their cultural heritage from back home and were highly influenced by Western music. Channi believed that music would be the best approach in educating them about their cultural roots. Due to this he thought of forming his own band and it was sheer destiny that soon after Channi arrived in England, he met a few talented musicians who later became his fellow group members. This was the beginning of a new era and the birth of Alaap.

Channi formed Alaap in 1977, when they started out performing in temples and at small functions. They did not know that soon they were about to take over the world of Bhangra music by storm. Alaap means ‘Leaders’ and in true sense they are the leaders of the modern Bhangra scene, which paved the way for many others to follow.

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  1. [...] debate and change, and has nurtured and produced many successful and high profile individuals. Cleo Lane is a Southall girl; Trevor Baylis OBE who invented the first windup radio in response to the AIDS [...]

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