Singer Shabbir Sheikh was born in a small village near Vadodara to an officer in the Indian Revenue Services and grew up nurturing the dream of having a government job. His only association with music was his mother singing the “naat kalaam” for him and his siblings. He often sang Mohammed Rafi songs at tea stalls in the evenings at the behest of his friends and neighbours. His real passion, at that time, was painting, something which he continues till date.
While still in his mid teens, Shabbir began painting banners for films, like “Daadi Ma” (1966) and “Mamta” (1966). It was when he attended a cycle relay event that he sang into the microphone was the first time, an event that was to change his life forever. In 1980, immediately after the death of his idol, Mohammad Rafi, he joined a troupe that performed stage shows titled “Ek Shaam Rafi Ke Naam.” Shabbir Sheikh, who had, by that time, adopted the name Kumar, claims that he had the opportunity to attend Mohammad Rafi’s funeral. While there, he claims, his watch fell into the latter’s open grave, an incident that was nothing less than a signal for things to come.
Composer Usha Khanna was the first to give him his break as a chorus in the film “Tajurba” (1981). It was during this time when Manmohan Desai noticed how close his voice was to that of Late Mohammad Rafi. Introducing Shabbir to Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Desai asked him to sing “Sari Duniya Ka Bojh” (“Coolie”, 1983), which suited the character of Amitabh Bachchan well. Hence all the songs picturised on Bachchan were to be sung by Shabbir. Throughout the 1980s’ Shabbir Kumar lent his voice to songs like “Jab Hum Jawan Honge” (“Betaab”, 1983), “Bol Do Meethe Bol Soniye” (“Sohni Mahiwal”, 1985), “Zeehal-e-Muskeen” (“Ghulami”, 1985), “Sochna Kya” (“Ghayal”, 1990), “Gori Hain Kalaiyan” (“Aaj Ka Arjun”, 1990) and “Tu Pagal Premi Awara” (“Shola Aur Shabnam”, 1992). his latest was “I Don’t Know What To Do” (“Housefull”, 2010).