One of the beautiful things about Pakistani music is the depth of female talent. The Washerman’s Dog has been waiting for some time to share the ghazals of Farida Khanum and the time has now come. (Why, I don't know, it just has.)
My excellent friend Peter was the one who introduced me to the Begum sahiba, way back when we were both unmarried and had not much else to do but shoot the shit and smoke the blackest of charas from Baluchistan. He knew I loved good tabla playing and so he slipped me a tape on which Farida sang a Punjabi folk tune accompanied by a tabaliya on steroids. It was hilariously good music but what came through even over the incessant, rapid fire drum beat was the expressive voice of Farida Khanum. I went out and bought several more tapes of the Malika-e-ghazal (Queen of ghazals) and she has been very near the summit of my favorites list ever since.
Born in Calcutta into a family of musicians (her sister was the mighty Mukhtar Begum…whose music will be posted here in the future) she studied with Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan (Patiala gharana) but her education was interrupted by the madness of the Partition. Like Roshanara Begum, Nur Jehan, Ustad Bundu Khan and many others and with equal trepidiation and anxiety, Farida Khanum moved across the continent to take up residence in Lahore, the new country of Pakistan’s historical and cultural heart. Perhaps because she was still a teenager the adjustment was less traumatic. The young singer continued her musical journey learning and performing light classical thumris as well as developing an amazing mastery of the ghazal.
In 1950, at the age of 15, she sang publicly for the first time and immediately began an association with Radio Pakistan which continued for the rest of her life. She gained national fame and acclamation some years later when President Ayub Khan invited her to sing in a public recital. Her ghazal, Woh Ishq Jo Hamse Rooth Gya is probably better known (and loved) than the national album. She has received a number of awards on both sides of the India Pakistan border where she is loved by all who love the finest ghazal singing.
To my mind Farida Khanum’s voice is one of the most expressive and versatile of any of her peers. She can belt it out like Koko Taylor on a Saturday night as well as slowly tickle out a long classical piece that ebbs and flows in intensity. Her voice has control as well as a looseness that is uncanny rare and very pleasing. You can listen to her for years and always hear new things.
03 Muddat Hoee Hay
04 Yeh Kiya Kay Ik Jahan Ko Karo
05 Hai Yahan Naam Ishq
06 Woh Ishq Jo Ham Say Rooth Gaiya
07 Grifta Dil Hain
08 Mere Qabu Mein Na
09 Chaman Mein Rang
10 Tum Aaye Ho Na
11 Lutf Woh Ishq Mein
12 Aafat Ki Shokhiyaan Hein
*Note. Track one on this collection is hopelessly reproduced and so I’ve not included it. Sorry. But more Farida will be coming so despair not.