The title of this post will no doubt inflame some readers because Suleman Shah is not forgotten at all. In the Pakistani province of Sindh, he was an idol during his lifetime. And in his death is idolized as one of that culturally lush country’s celebrated performers.
But he is forgotten in that other than to Sindhi patriots his music has been forgotten by the broader music listening world.
I’ve not been able to find any information of significance on Shah sahib, except a number of YouTube videos. All I can report is that he was apparently born in the provincial town of Mirpur Bhatoro (south of Hyderabad) and passed away some years ago. If anyone is able to provide more details on this one-of-a-kind singer please feel free to pipe up and leave a comment or two at the bottom of the page.
The music is pure Sindhi folk music that draws on mystical poetry and folk tales as old as the water of the Indus. The singing takes place in a live setting, perhaps at an open-air mehfil, with Suleman introducing each song with a bit of wonderfully evocative narrative. This man is a natural storyteller. Though I understand not a word of Sindhi, I’m totally hooked to the story. I imagine him as an itinerant actor/singer and all round performer, dragging his straggly band of musicians from one village to the next, providing late evening performances for his rural and small town audiences that mix music, religion, comedy and telling of ancient epics.
In his group you can hear all the instruments of Sindh: the dhol (round drum), the murli (snake charmer’s horn), bansuri (flute), borrindo (clay drum) and yaktoro (single stringed lute).
Another reason for inflamed feelings will be the titles I’ve given the tracks. As I’ve confessed earlier I do not speak Sindhi. But I’ve tried to grab a word or two from each song and use that as the title. I beg, in advance, forgiveness from all Sindhi speakers and once again request you to send me the real titles so I can make amends.
A final pretext for being irritated by this post is the background noise on the first two tracks. You see, this CD was given to me by a few friends after a night of drinking Black Dog Whiskey and salacious storytelling (mainly in Punjabi, which I understood better after a few bara pegs of Black Dog). How my friends voices got on to the CD I will never know and I do admit their conversation is slightly bothersome. But honestly, Suleman Shah’s singing and storytelling is no match for them and they soon shut up.
So with all these caveats and pre-apologies, I offer you, ladies and gentlemen the scintillating storytelling/singing of Syed Suleman Shah of Sindh!
02 De Allo
03 Marte Marke Mari
05 Key Nadi Ho
07 Asaan to Ishq Balbal Karega
08 Muddat Tarie
09 Ranjha Ja Hazaar
11 Hanu Barja