Music director Usha Khanna gave Shabbir Kumar a break in the film Tajurba (1981). Shabbir got a major break, when the director Manmohan Desai, who was looking for a Rafi substitute, noticed him recommended him to music director duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal (L-P). Within a few days, L-P gave Shabbir Kumar songs in the film Coolie, which was released in 1983. Shabbir's first released film with L-P was Main Intequam Loonga.
Shabbir Kumar was first noted for a duet with Lata Mangeshkar, Shaam Hai Ye Kuch Khoyi Khoyi from Prem Tapasya (1983). Music director Anu Malik got him to sing for Rajiv Kapoor in his debut film Ek Jaan Hain Hum (1983). Shabbir Kumar was acknowledged as a leading playback singer with the film Betaab. Music director Rahul Dev Burman got him to sing all the five songs for Sunny Deol. Also, in 1983, Coolie was released, in which L-P had given him all the seven songs, six for Amitabh Bachchan, and one for Rishi Kapoor.
In the 1980s, Shabbir Kumar sang for all the leading music directors including Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Rahul Dev Burman, Chitragupt, Kalyanji-Anandji, Rajesh Roshan, Usha Khanna, Bappi Lahiri, Anu Malik, Ravindra Jain, Raamlaxman, O.P.Nayyar, Shankar Jaikishan, Nadeem Shravan, Anand Milind, Jatin-Lalit, Uttam Singh. He did playback singing for leading actors such as Dilip Kumar, Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachhan, Jackie Shroff, Rishi Kapoor, Jeetendra, Mithun Chakraborty, Raj Babbar, Govinda, Chunky Pandey, Sanjay Dutt, Kumar Gaurav, Kamal Hassan, Rajnikant, Anil kapoor, Sunny Deol, Rajiv Kapoor and Akshay Kumar. Recently he sang for Ismail Darbar, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and A.R. Rahman.
His last Hit songs were Gori Hai Kalaiyan from Aaj Ka Arjun (1990) and Sochna Kya from Ghayal (1990). Shabbir then started concentrating on stage shows. He sang for many films and private albums in the year 2000, few hits were Ghaath (2000), Awara Paagal Deewana (2002), and Aan: Men at Work (2004), Recently Shabbir Kumar sang for Akshay Kumar in the movie Housefull (2010) which is a comeback for this legendary singer.
He has sung in different languages like Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Gujrati, Hariyanvi, Oriya, Malayalam and English. He is Awarded with 34 Gold Discs, 16 Platinum, 1 Kohinoor Disc and also received number of other awards. Received award as "The Best Playback Singer" in Dubai, U.A.E. "Mohammad Rafi Award" in Bombay first time ever in India, "Kalaa Ratan Award" from Honourable President of India Shri Giani Zail Singh as Best Playback Singer. His Contributions to Music industry over 1 thousand songs and more than 200 Films in his portfolio. He has performed several live concerts in UAE, Europe, South Africa, United States of America, Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and many other places.