Popular Pakistani female singer Shabnam Majeed’s magical voice leaves you in a trance even when she stops singing. She inherited her love for music from her father who was a music composer. Since childhood Shabnam heard her father’s compositions and sang to them but her father discouraged her from adopting signing as a profession. It was most probably because of the discouraging attitude of the music industry; however Ustad Nazir Hussein recognized Shabnam’s passion for singing and told her father that it would be wrong to confine her talents. It seems Shabnam was not the only child to have caught the music bug, her brother Waheed Majeed is also in the music industry as a music composer. Shabnam is married to Wajid Ali Wajjo a famous tabla nawaz.
Shabnam began her career at the tender of eight when most girls play with dolls. She sang her first song in the Sindhi music program for kids “Roshan Tara”. Shabnam then started doing programs from Radio Pakistan Lahore; a medium she describes her radio experience as invaluable and regards radio a university as it helps the singer to be more expressive. Shabnam shot to fame when she sang the “remix” of the song “dil cheez kiya hai” but it was her melodious voice that captured people’s hearts and imagination.
Shabnam is one of the few Pakistani singers whose voice can do justice to a various genre’s of music such as ghazals, classical and semi-classical songs and folk. The songs she sang for films are quite popular. The song Main Piya ki thi” composed by Jawad Ahmed for the film Moosa Khan is one of the best songs sung by her. However the song “Ishq Mohabat Apna Pun” directed by Shoaib Mansoor is by far her best rendition (personal opinion). Shabnum is also the only female singer whose song stayed at number 1 position for a whole year on the Channel V Charts.
Faraz Anwar is a rock guitarist of Pakistan. He currently tops the list of the talented guitarists of Pakistan. Faraz made his presence known to all by winning Pakistan’s national music competition. By the age of fourteen he was a full fledge guitarists with the ability of setting the stage ablaze with his fiery music. Allan Holdsworth the owner of Gnarly Geezer Records launched Faraz’s album “Abstract Point of View” in 2001 and considers him the “Guitar Guru ofAsia”. Faraz was also associated with the band “Mizrrab”.
Amir Zaki is an accomplished and most popular guitarist of Pakistan. He started playing guitar from the age of 14. Aamir rose to fame in the 90s and was also associated with Vital Signs for a short time. However his real claim to fame was his album Signature; the song Mera Pyar which he composed and sang is still popular. Aamir is truly creative and a genius who though believed in his music but never believed in himself. Whatever work he has done so far both nationally and internationally has won him accolades.
Asad Ahmed is another gifted guitarist who has played for the leading Pakistani bands , singers and has given solo performances too. At present he is associated with the band Karavan and plays on Coke Studios.
Mekaal Hasan is another prolific songwriter-composer and guitarist ofPakistan. Inspired heavily by Sufism; Meekal Hasan and his band currently rule the Pakistani music scene. Meekal Hasan has worked in collaboration with international stars such as Pete Lockette and Billy Cobham etc.
Shallum Asher Xavier is one of the best guitarists inPakistan. He has played with several bands and singers and has been awarded as the “Best Guitarist” for two years in a row.
People in Pakistan love music. They consider it “the food for soul”. Pakistanis have a song for every occasion be it joy or sorrow, trial or triumph every mood is musically expressed.
In the early days of its birth, classical music was at its zenith and even the composition of film songs was heavily influenced by classical music. Roshan Ara Begum, Noor Jehan and M. Kaleem were some noted singers.
Ghazals and geets are genres of music popular in Pakistan. The composition is semi classical. However training in classical music was a must for all singers. Iqbal Bano, Farida Khanum, Mehdi Hasan, Ustad Amanat Ali and Habib Wali Mohammed were popular ghazal singers.
Qawalli is devotional sufi music. It is performed by a group of singers singing after the lead singer. Although well known in the sub continent, Aziz Mian Qawal and Sabri Brothers gave a new life to Qawwali. Their soulful rendition transported listeners in a trance. Qawwali was modernized by Nusrat Fateh Ali. Abida Parveen is a big name in sufi music.
The 1965 war gave birth to Milli Naghmay (national songs). They infuse a spirit of patriotism in listeners.
Music of Pakistan is incomplete without mentioning the folk/ regional music. The four provinces of Pakistan have a sound of their own as well as some musical instruments. The theme of the folk songs is usually the simple rustic life. Alan Fakir, Alam Lohar, Zarina Baloch, Pathanay Khan are some famous singers.
Pakistanis had their first taste of Pop music when Ahmed Rushdi sang ‘Ko Ko Korina’ in 1960s. 80s was an era of pop music. Nazia Hasan, Alamgir, Mohammed Ali Shehki were some pop sensations. Western influence in Pakistani music was noticeable.
The music after the 80s was a beautiful fusion of east and west. Music thrived more in the form of bands like Vital Signs, Junoon, Awaz and Strings. Junoon introduced “Sufi Rock” the world over.
To date Pakistani musicians are experimenting and producing beautiful melodies.
Pakistan got its first taste of pop music in the late 60’s when Waheed Murad was seen swaying to the tunes of Ko Ko Korina sung by Ahmed Rushdi for the film Armaan. This song revolutionized the music scene in Pakistan as well as across the border.
Singers Alamgir and Mohammed Ali Shehki took pop music one step further in the late 70’s. Their songs were an instant hit and very popular among the younger generation.
In 1980, Nazia Hassan a teenage Pakistan born British became a house hold name with her very first song sung for an Indian movie. Her first album Disco Dewane sung along with her brother Zohaib Hassan enjoyed phenomenal success. Inspired by the Hassan siblings, a number of singers followed their footsteps some of them are Tehseen Javed, Saleem Javed and Hasan Jahangir. Hasan Jahangir’s “Hawa Hawa” was a super duper hit.
In the early 90’s, the band Vital Signs took the music scene by storm with their song “Dil dil Pakistan”. They were largely helped by their looks and video. Soon many bands such as Junoon, Awaz, and Strings etc joined the band wagon. Of all the bands, Stings still exist. Junoon introduced and popularized a new genre of music the “Sufi Rock”. Shehzad Roy, Ali Haider and Najam Shiraz are some individual singers of the 90’s worth mentioning.
The girls of Pakistan have also contributed to pop music. Besides Nazia Hasan other leading female singers are Hadiqa Kiyani and Fareha Pervaiz. Recently two girls from Peshawar have formed a band Zeb and Haniya. Their music is much appreciated in Pakistan as well as abroad.
TOP TEN POP SINGERS
1. Atif Aslam
2. Ali Zafar
3. Ali Azmat
4. Hadiqa Kiyani
5. Ali Haider
6. Princess Annie
7. Nazia Hasan
8. Junaid Jamshed
9. Shafqat Ammanat Ali