Ghulam Ali is another prolific ghazal singer from Pakistan. Ghulam Ali was born in Sialkot in 1940. He received the early training of classical music from his father who was also a singer and a sarangi player. At the age of 15, Ghulam Ali became a student of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan; the leading name in classical music. However Ghulam Ali was instructed by the brothers of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Mubarak Ali, Barkat Ali Khan and Aamanat Ali Khan who familiarized him with the finer points of classical music. Ghulam Ali’s career began in 1960 from Radio Pakistan.
Another person to influence Ghulam Ali and to make his singing style unparalleled was the poet Sufi Sahib. Sufi Sahib taught him the aesthetics of poetry and also taught him how to deliver the words without compromising the beauty of the poem.
Ghulam Ali blends various raags when composing his ghazals. His distinct style of singing along with his unique compositions has made his ghazals immortal.
Ghulam Ali is equally popular in India and his ghazal “chupke chupke raat din” was included in a film. Ghulam Ali has sung Punjabi songs as well and has also sung ghazals in Nepali language. Ghulam Ali has more than 50 cassettes to his credit and many leading recording companies have released his albums. Ghulam Ali mostly sings at live concerts all over the world.
Mehdi Hassan the legendary ghazal singer is the pride of Pakistan. Mehdi Hassan was born in Luna Rajasthan, India in 1927. He belonged to a family with rich musical roots, the Kalawant clan of musicians. Both his father and paternal uncle were dhrupad singers. Mehdi Hassan’s family migrated to Pakistan after partition.
Life was not easy and for some time Mehdi Hassan had to work as an auto mechanic to support his family. Mehdi Hassan got his first break on Radio Pakistan Karachi in 1952. Slowly he made a name for himself and in 1962 fame finally came to him when his ghazal “Gullon mein rung bharay” became immensely popular. From then onwards there was no turning back for the maestro; he was to rule the music industry for decades to come.
Mehdi Hassan was passionate about music and poetry. His command over the various raags and his deep understanding of the poetry made his ghazals so outstanding. He added a new dimension in ghazal singing. He composed the ghazal in the raag which best suited the mood of the ghazal. Even today no singer in the sub continent can match his low notes. Mehdi Hassan was the main playback singer from the 60s to the 80s. He also performed on television and in private functions. Mehdi Hassan has won a great number of awards both nationally and internationally. Lata Mangeshkar the iconic Indian singer paying glowing tributes to the Shahenshah-e- Ghazal Mehdi Hassan compared his voice to that of Bhagwan (God).
Mehdi Hassan’s popularity can be judged from this anecdote. While singing in the court of King Birendra of Nepal, Mehdi Hassan forgot a line of his song, “Zindagi mein to sub he piyar kiya karte hain”; the King got up and sang the line; a great honor for the singer indeed.
Failing health made him give up singing but Mehdi Hassan has carved a name for himself which will not be erased by time or tide.
Nayyara Noor is a talented singer from Pakistan. She as received no formal training of music but her natural talent and her passion for music has made her the great singer she is today. As a child she was very fond of Akhtar Begum and listened to her ghazals attentively.
During her college days, her teachers heard her sing and encouraged her to participate in the Radio Pakistan’s University Program in 1968. Nayyara’s singing career officially began in 1971. She recorded songs for Pakistan Television and movies. As a playback singer; the versatility of her voice surprised many and won accolades plus a large number of fans. Her romantic songs pulled the strings of the listeners’ hearts; her tragic songs cast a melancholy spell and her jolly teasing songs left the listeners smiling. Nayyara Noor won two Nigar Awards for her playback singing.
Nayyara’s national songs renew the spirit of patriotism in you. Nayyara Noor is best known for her ghazal singing. The reserved and graceful Nayyara has literally immortalized the ghazals she has sung. Although she has rendered ghazals by Ghalib, Fayez Ahmed Fayez, Nasir Kazmi and Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, her best performance in my opinion is Behzad Lakhnavi’s “Aye gazba-e-dil gar mein chahoon” recorded for PTV.
Munni Begum was born as Nadira in Murshidabad, West Bengal in India. She studied music under Ustad Khawaja Ghulam Mustafa Warsi and later joined a college of Music in Dhaka where her singing skills were further polished. Her family migrated to Pakistan after the war of 1971 which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. Munni Begum’s journey towards success was full of hardships but she never gave up. With her father’s blessings and encouragement, she inched forward towards success and today she is known all over the world where good music is heard and appreciated.
Initially she recorded songs for radio and television. Munni Begum adopted a very simple style from the very beginning. She simplified ghazal singing; and ghazal was no more a genre of music understood and enjoyed by the intellectuals but even common masses could now relate to it. Munni Begun also played the harmonium while singing and some of her famous songs are her own compositions. Her song “Ek bar muskurado” is still fresh in the listeners’ minds. Munni Begum was well liked by the people because of her clear voice vibrant voice and distinct style of singing but the ghazal “mareez e mohabat unhe ka fasana took her to new heights of glory. Munni Begum has produced 40 cassettes in her entire career. Munni Begum is now settled in Chicago USA.
Tahira Syed is a ghazal and folk singer from Pakistan. She is the youngest child of the legendary ghazal singer Malika Pukhraj. At the age of 12, Tahira started learning the basics of singing. After spending a couple of years learning classical music from Ustad Akhtar Hussain, her singing skills were later honed by her mother.
Tahira’s voice is quite different from that of other female Pakistani singers. Her voice is a bit heavy, resonant but graceful nonetheless. Tahira mostly sang ghazals, Pahari and Punjabi folk songs during her singing career. She started her singing career in 1968-69 from Radio Pakistan; a medium which served as a base and launched the careers of many singers and actors of Pakistan. Tahira has lent her voice to a couple of film songs as well. The film song which vibrates in the memories of many is “Hum sa ho to samney aaiy”. The famous music director Nisar Bazmi composed the song and asked Tahira to sing it. The song was a hit and Tahira put an end to all speculations that her voice did not suit playback singing.
Blessed with good looks, elegance and charm; the lady also graced the cover page of National Geographic magazine in 1985.
Tahira is not that active on the music scene and that’s why the new generation is not aware of her which is quite unfortunate. Singers like Tahira did not achieve fame overnight but worked hard for it.
Farida Khanum the iconic ghazal singer of Pakistan was born in 1935 in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in the pre partitioned India. She was brought up in the city of Amristar.
She showed inclination towards music from an early age and used to accompany her elder sister Mukhtar Begum to Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan’s place where she (Mukhtar Begum) went for riyaaz (practice of classical music).
Mukhtar Begum was more than a sister to Farida Khanum; he was also her first teacher of classical music. From the tender age of seven, Farida Khanum learnt khayal from her sister. Later under Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan’s guidance she perfected her singing skills.
She chose to migrate to Pakistan when India was partitioned in 1947. Farida Khanum’s first public appearance was in 1950. She later sang for the Radio Pakistan; her deep rich voice ruled over the hearts of Pakistanis and fans across the border for years. Even today her melodious voice and her perfect rendition of ghazals remain unmatched.
When on stage her majestic presence, her total command over the classical raags and her style of delivering the lyrics really overawes the audience; after all she is the Malika e Ghazal (Queen of Ghazals).
Farida Khanum was awarded the Hilal-e- Imtiaz by the Pakistani government in 2005. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh honored her with the Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Award in 2005 too.
At the age of 74, Farida Khanum still exudes the same charm and magic when she sings. Farida Khanum is a living legend, a strong pillar on which the Pakistani music industry stands.
Iqbal Bano the noted ghazal singer was born in Punjab in 1935. She was brought up in Delhi where she received her training in pure classical and light classical music from Ustad Chaand Khan. On his reference, she started her singing career from All India Radio Delhi.
In 1952 Iqbal Bano migrated to Pakistan along with her family. The same year she was married to a landlord who promised never to be hindrance in her singing. Iqbal Bano received invitations for performances from Radio Pakistan. She also did playback singing for Pakistani movies in 19500; some of which are still remembered because of her soulful singing. In 1957 Iqbal Bano first sang for the public in Arts Council Lahore.
Iqbal Bano has sung several beautiful ghazals in her typical classical style for which she has been appreciated by people from all walks of life. But she is best known for rendering the poems of Fayez Ahmed Fayez be it the soul stirring sensitive “Dasht-e- Tanhai Mein” or the inspirational “Hum Dekhenge”, she has truly immortalized Fayez’s work. Hum Dekhenge became the hallmark of her career as she sang the song in public when the then military government had banned such songs and the poet himself was declared a persona non grata by the military dictator.
Besides singing in Urdu, she also sang in Persian and was popular in Iran and Afghanistan. Iqbal Bano was awarded the Sitara-e- Imtiaz for her contributions to Pakistan’ music industry.
This iconic ghazal singer passed away on 21st April 2009. She has left behind numerous unforgettable melodies and also a void which is impossible to fill.