Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Dictator's Favourite: Abida Parveen

Abida Parveen

Before I run off to another side of the musical universe for a while I just have to share a set of Abida Parveen songs with you.

It goes without saying that if you’re reading a blog and have even the slightest of interest in the music of Sufi Asia, Abida Parveen needs no introduction. Like her male alter ego, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, she has left a giant size imprint on the musical landscape of Pakistan and South Asia generally.

Born in the Sindhi lands of the Bhuttos, she studied with her father who operated a music school in Larkana. She travelled with him to the many urs celebrations through Sindh and Punjab where she was mesmerised by the Sufi poetry she heard sung by famous and anonymous itinerant musicians. She later spent time under the tutelage of the grand ustad Salamat Ali Khan before crashing onto the musical scene with her full voiced, enrapturing and highly animated singing.
Gen. Zia  ul Haq in poster commemorating his grisly death in a plane crash 1988.

An instant hit,  her most famous fan was President General Zia ul Haq, iron-gripped leader of Pakistan throughout the 1980s. Rather ironic that considering Zia’s promotion of strict Islamic mores and Abida’s obvious ‘un-Islamic’ stature as a female singer of religious kafian (Sufi songs).

I once had the stunning pleasure of attending one of her performances in what was then the Holiday Inn in Islamabad. It was at a rather odd hour, 4 pm. The audience looked like they were out of high tea.  Well, she nearly popped every speaker in the small hall and paralysed the high society attendees with the power of her voice and gesticulations.  We wandered out afterwards not quite sure what had hit us.

This is a collection from the Music Pakistan series and covers wide range of styles, tempos and poets.  Another fine job.  A few years ago I wrote an article in which I identified Ghoom Charkhra Sayan Da as one of the ten best South Asian songs of all time.  Ten years on I see no need to retract that statement. This is elemental music of the heart that hits you in the gut!

            Track Listing:
            01 Sohney Yaar Di Ghadoli (Sachhal Sarmast)
02 Ghoom Charkhra  Sayan Da (Baba Shah Hussein)
03 Yaar Sajjan Ji Faraqon Mari (Shah Abdul Latif)
04 Tunhjan Waran Khunda Karam (Pir Asghar Ali)
05 Jinhan Ji Aahiyan Doongar (Shah Rasidi)
06 Munjhi Dil Ohasaan (Shah Abdul Latif)
07 Ishq Achhi Mosan (Janan Fakir)
08 Khay Doongar Dakh (Khush Khair Muhammad)
09 Pasi Garrha Gul [Rano] (Shah Abdul Latif)
10 Likh Naz Sakhyo Nawan (Shah Abdul Latif)
11 Ishq Jo Dis Israr (Khush Khair Muhammad)

Listen here.


Anonymous said...

She hasn't passed away.

Miguel said...


ajnabi said...

hard to say...but I hope you're right. seems to be some credible reports but if she's not that's best.

Fawad Zakariya said...

Ajnabi Sahib, where did you hear this bad news. I have seen nothing on this. She certainly was struck with a heart attack while performing at LUMS in Lahore several months ago but since then there has been no credible news, at least in the media, about her condition. If she has passed away it would be major news for the sub-continent's music fans. I hope you are wrong.

ajnabi said...

I think I am mistaken. I did not pursue the reports (which looked VERY convincing) on the net or through my contacts. But I think we are lucky to have her yet.

Holly said...

Thank you for this lovely share! VERY curious about the list of 10 that you refer to in the post... is there a copy anywhere on the net?

ajnabi said...

Hi Holly,
you're welcome.
The article was in a early web based forum that has now grown into a major South Asia forum...I was in at the beginning and have not participated for years. the link is
interesting reading some of the comments that have come through over the years...! People are funny.

Dr.Bukhari said...

Yes.. not only alive but kickin .. still singing

Anonymous said...

I was there! Absolutely stunning. I met her many times after, in 1996 and 2003, and once in Kasur at Bulleh Shah.