CHART-TOPPING R&B star Jay Sean has paid an emotional tribute to his late grandfather, without whose support he says he never would have achieved such success.


Jiwan Singh Jhooti, who lived in Heston and worked for British Airways for most of his life, died earlier this month aged 80 after suffering a stroke.

Jay Sean (born Kamaljit Singh Jhooti) this week told the Chronicle how close he had been to the man he called 'Baba' and who taught him to 'enjoy the gift' of singing.

The international superstar, who last year became the first male British urban artist to top the US charts, said his grandfather was one of his biggest fans and would tell the rest of his family to keep quiet whenever he appeared on TV.

Jay, who quit his medical studies to pursue his dreams in his early 20s, told how he would have struggled to make the leap without the unwavering support of 'Baba' and his close family.

"He was always a believer in being the best you can be. He used to say 'I wanna see your name up in the stars'," said Jay.

"He'd be so proud every time I was on the front of the magazines or newspapers and he'd show everyone, saying 'look, my grandson is on the front page! Everyone else is inside!! He's on the FRONT!"

Jiwan Singh Jhooti was born in Punjab and came to London in 1961, working himself 'to the bone' for two years so he could afford to bring his wife and five children to live with him in Southall.

He and his family moved to Heston 15 years ago, where they lived in a bungalow they renovated themselves.

He was a keen singer and used to give Jay feedback on his music, which the R&B star described as 'brutally honest' but incredibly helpful.

How close were you to your grandfather? Do you have any special memories?

We were super close. We were friends. The thing I loved most was how much fun we had with him; he was a comedic character, always saying something or doing something to make us laugh. That was his favourite sound, because he knew that must mean we're happy, and that's all he ever wanted.
  
How did your grandfather support you?

He was always a believer in being the best you can be. He used to say 'I wanna see your name up in the stars!'. He'd be so proud every time I was on the front of the magazines or newspapers and he'd show everyone, saying 'look, my grandson is on the front page! Everyone else is inside!! He's on the FRONT!"

Did he inspire you to pursue your musical career?    

We realise now that he is the only other singer in the family. He loved to sing, especially after a drink or two. He had a great voice, but more importantly he just loved singing, and that is what I learned from him, to actually enjoy the gift, rather than worrying about whether you sang it perfectly or not.

Do you think you would have been able to achieve what you have without your grandfather's support?

No. You can't happily do this career if those you love most aren't by your side supporting you and cheering you on. I needed him.

Was he proud of your success and that of your brother?

Oh totally. He would sit at home all day watching MTV and all the other music channels, waiting for my video to come on, even though he'd seen it hundreds of times. He'd tell the whole family to 'shhhh!' so he could hear it properly and enjoy the whole song. My brother is a photographer and music video director, so he does all my imaging and my grandad couldn't have been more proud of the combination. "Look, this is Jay Sean, my grandson, shot by Amit and Naroop my other grandsons," he would say.

Was he able to see you play locally and/or at some of the bigger venues at which you've played in recent years?

Yes. I took him to many events, but perhaps the best was in Earls Court. There were thousands of fans, and grandad got his front row seats in front of the barriers, VVIP seating! The camera filmed him when I gave him a shout-out. We have a picture of that moment - it's priceless.

Was he musical or artistic himself?    

Yes, he was the original singer in the family! He would listen to my songs and give me his opinions, and was always honest! That's the best thing about him, he was bitterly honest, so you knew if he loved something, he really loved it.

What did he enjoy doing? How would you describe him as a character??

Baba loved life. That's what we called him, Baba, and he just loved living it up. He sang, he danced, he drank and partied, and he worked so hard all the way up to his final moments. He was driving everyone around, doing weekly Tesco runs, exercising, doing DIY around the house. He was the man. He truly showed us the way. He used to say 'everyone's gonna die one day, try living'. And he did, and he did it beautifully.