Tag Archives: ghazal

Sufi Music Icon Abida Parveen to Perform in London

Abida Parveen

Pakistani vocalist Abida Parveen is set to perform on Friday, July 12, 2019 at Barbican Hall in London. Abida Parveen is one of the greatest Sufi vocalists of the modern era. She will perform traditional Sufi music (sufiana kalaam) together with her ensemble.

Abida Parveen sings ghazals and kafis – based on songs by Sufi poets – in Urdu, Sindhi, Saraiki, Punjabi and Farsi, accompanied by percussion and harmonium.

Parveen received her musical training by both her father, the renowned Ustad Ghulam Haider, who led his own music school and by Ustad Salaamat Ali Khan of the Sham Chorasia gharana.

Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London


Artist Profiles: Gulfam Sabri

Gulfam Sabri
Singer Gulfam Sabri belongs to a distinguished lineage of traditional musicians and represents the 7th generation of the Sainia Gharana of Rampur-Moradabad. He is the youngest sibling of the great Sarangi maestro Ustad Sabri Khan, who is a recipient of the Padma-bhushan award.

His illustrious father Ustad Sabri Khan initiated Gulfam Sabri into music at a very early age. In his keenness to explore the vast realms of music he has carved a niche for himself as a Sufiana & Ghazal singer and is committed to popularizing this art form. However, his singing is not only restricted to the Indian music but also involves collaborative work with western and Asian musicians, and theatre artists.

Gulfam Sabri has performed widely in concerts across USA, Europe, Africa, Australia, South-East Asia and in India as well. In 2000 he participated in the ?Re-Orient Festival`- Estonia and also had the honor to perform in UK’s prestigious festival BBC Live-2000, to usher the millennium at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham. This talented artist gave a solo performance followed by a Sarangi recital by his father- the living legend Ustad Sabri Khan and accompanied by his renowned brother Ustad Sarwar Sabri on the tabla.

In March 05 and November 05 `he not only performed in an International Sufi festival in Kabul-Afghanistan to commemorate the Chishti tradition of Sufism, but was also specially invited by the King of Afghanistan King Zahir Shah at his Palace to perform before a select elite gathering where his rendition of ghazals was well received by the discerning connoisseurs of music. The festival was organized by the Ministry of Culture ICCR- Delhi and In July `06` he performed for Asian Sufi Festival In Srinagar-Kashmir

Gulfam Sabri’s strength lies in the fact that his style of singing has retained the flavor of yesteryear’s ghazal singers and has received applause even from the younger generation.

In addition to his excellence within the tradition of Hindustani music Gulfam Sabri, who has been awarded the Sangeet Bhushana Award, Best Artist Award from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi and the Surmani, Mumbai, also specializes in extensive educational work on music and its various aspects.

Impressed by his knowledge of music at such a young age, the Fine Arts Society, Singapore, invited Gulfam Sabri to teach Indian music. He also holds lec-dems in schools, colleges and in schools for children with special needs. He believes that music is an art with therapeutic effects therefore these special children take to it easily making their life less stressful. This multifaceted artist has also performed and given lec-dems at Jazz Conservatoire, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia as well as in Sibelius Academy, Finland.

Recently, Gulfam Sabri in collaboration with Symphony Hall, Birmingham, UK, has held a series of workshops on the finer nuances of Indian music inspiring even the youngest of the young. This was followed by a tour of Hong Kong, UK and Ireland for Ghazal performances for the promotion of his CD Dehleez, which was released in the UK.


Baraka’s Vision of Persian Women’s Songs

Baraka – Gole Sangam Persian Women’s Songs


Baraka – Gole Sangam Persian Women’s Songs (Sketis Music SKMR-128, 2016)

Latvian world jazz ensemble Baraka focuses on the ancient Persian ghazal tradition that spread throughout Central Asia (Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan). Three female vocalists appear on Gole Sangam: Tajik traditional singer Zarina Tadjibaeva, Baraka’s regular soloist Devika Evsikova and spoken word artist Iran Raihi, who recites verses written by contemporary Iranian poets.

Even though Baraka specializes in what they call ethno jazz, this project sounds like a smooth jazz ensemble backing the vocalists. The fusion could have worked better with less saxophone and some additional traditional instruments. Aside from the vocals and percussion, there is barely any Central Asian musical influence.


Baraka – Gole Sangam Persian Women’s Songs


Personnel: Zarina Tadjibaeva on lead vocals; Devika Evsikova on vocals, bass, Chapman stick, fretless bass, Rhodes piano; Iran Raihi on spoken word; Deniss Pashkevich on saxophone and flute; Artem Sarvi on Hammond organ, Rhodes and synthesizer; Egor Kovaikov on acoustic and electric guitar, sitar; Dmitry Evsikov on bongo, conga, darbuka, ghatam, clay pot, daff; Marcis Vasilevskis on electric guitar; Vilnis Kundrats on tenor saxophone; Artur Kupetov on electric guitar; Madars Kalniņš on Hammond organ and synthesizer; Zigmund Kukovsky on bass; Janis Amantov on trumpet.



Artist Profiles: Abida Parveen

Abida Parveen

Abida Parveen, the queen of Sufi mystic singing spreads the message of love and induces a state of spiritual ecstasy with her Sufi mystic songs. An artist who has been recognized as a rue force in the realm of Sufi music, she proclaims her faith with her entire body. She is considered one of the most prominent contemporary exponents of the great ghazal and kafi musical styles from the Indian subcontinent. Rooted in the intense encounter between sensitivity and spirituality that is Sufism. She never ceases to sing her fiery love for the Divine.

The earliest memories of her childhood are all linked to her passion for music and her desire to sing. Born in 1954 in Larkana, Sindh into a family tat maintains close associations with the shrines of Sufi saints. She was imparted her initial training in the art of music from her father, Ustad Ghulam Haider, and later from Ustad Salamat Ali Khan of Sham Chorasia gharana. Her father, whom she refers to as reverently as Baba Sain, was also a singer and had his own small music school where he taught only male pupils. He was devoted to the Sufi poets and that is from where Abida gets her devotional inspiration. For her the Sufi poets of Sindh and Punjab are the ones who speak of the inner truths of the self and in their poetry, where she finds solace and peace. As she was growing up, Abida attended her father’s music school and that was where her foundation in music was laid.

Hyderabad Radio first introduced her in 1977. She is today the most popular and well-known folk and ghazal singer of Pakistan who breathed a new life into ghazal and semi-classical music. She holds an audience of thousands spellbound. Her appearance is a complete reverse of many other stage performers. She begins each number as solemnly as the previous one as the evening progresses, sinking deeper and deeper into her kafi’s and Sufiana kalam of the mystic poets. She is a woman of very few words and asks to be judged only by her music. This folk phenomenon, called Abida Parveen, is deeply religious and profoundly humble.

Abida Parveen is the finest singer of ghazal, geet and sindhi, seraiki and punjabi kafees. ‘While khayal and thumri became a part of her childhood training, her effective rendering of folk and traditional music with great sophistication and without losing the basic characteristics of the regional music of sindh has made her a versatile singer.’

Abida Parveen

Her command of kafi of sufi poets such as Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Hazrat Lal Shabaz Qalandar, Hazrat Sacchal Sarmast from sindh, and Hazrat Baba Bulhe Shah, Hazrat Khawja Farid Ganje Shakar, Hazrat Sultan Bahu, Hazrat Mian Muhammad Buksh, Hazrat Ghulam Farid, Hazrat Pir Mehr Ali Shah and Hazrat Shah Hussain from pujab embellishes her versatility. Apart from sufis of Pakistan, Parveen also sings mystic poetry of the Asian Indian subcontinent, which include sufis such as Hazra Amir Khusrau, Hazrat Nizamudin Auliya, Hazrat Kutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti and Hazrat Moulana Jalaluddin Roomi from Turkey.

Professor G.M. Mekhri of Sind University has rightly said that, ‘Abida Parveen is the spiritual daughter of Great Sufi Saint Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. She is the truly blessed voice.’ Abida has recorded all the poetry of Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, an 18th century poet and composer who blended folk music and classical raga in a style known as kafi from his book called ‘Shah jo Risalo’ according to their respective ‘Raags’ which were also laid down by him.

She has performed almost in all parts of the world and performed before international audiences and placed the name of the country high up I the field of music. Abida Parveen performed in Chicago in 1988. Her fist performance was based on classical and semi-classical art, the second was comprised of ghazals of prominent poets and the third rested on folk singing and different varieties of sindhi music. Her performance was recorded by the renowned organization Hazrat Amir Khusrau Society of Art and Culture, which issued a long play recording of her renderings.


Live In U.K. Vol 3 (Star Compact Disc, 1994)
Pakistani Sufi Songs (Inedit, 1995)
Are Logo Tumhara Kya (Timeline Records, 1998)
Jahan-E-Khusrau – A Festival Of Amir Khusrau (Times Music, 2001)
Baba Bulleh Shah (Oreade Music, 2002)
Sings Sufi Music (Times Music, 2002)
Hazrat shah Hussain (Times Music, 2002)
Visal (World Village, 2002)
The Sufi Queen (Times Music, 2004)
Heer (ZYX Music, 2004)
Ishq (Accords Croisés, 2005)
Sufi Soul (Saregama, 2005)
Ghalib (Times Music, 2008)
Kabir (Times Music, 2009)
Mast Qalandar (Navras, 2010)
The Best Of Abida Parveen (Music Today, 2011)
Raqs-e-Bismil (Music Today, 2011)
Ho Jamalo (Music Today, 2011)
Qalander Asra Hai (2011)
The Sufi Queen (Vol.1) (2011)
30 Greatest Hits Abida Parveen And Noor Jehan (2011)
Treasures (Vol.1) (2011)
Eternal Abida (2012)
Lal De Rang Vich Rangi Aan (2012)
Sufiana safar (2012)
Tera Lal Sakhi Mera Lal Sakhi (2012)
Shaane-e-Ali (2012)Ru-e-Ali (2013)
Zikr – Soul of Sufism (Vol. 2) (2014)
Tasawwuf (2014)


Enthralling Ghazals

Kiran Ahluwalia – Kiran Ahluwalia
Kiran Ahluwalia – Kiran Ahluwalia (Triloka/Artemis TRI-CD-82055, 2005)

The musical style called ghazal (not to be confused with the duo of the same name) originated in Persia ten centuries ago and crossed over to India a few hundred years after that. Ghazals are, in essence, poems set to music, and to this day it’s a form that’s neither strictly classical nor popular but very much its own.

Indian-born, Canadian-raised Kiran Ahluwalia developed a passion for ghazals as well as Punjabi folk music at an early age, carrying that passion halfway around the world when she moved with her parents to Toronto. Against their wishes she decided to pursue music full time, making her way back to India to study classical formats and the poetic structures that are at the heart of ghazal (the latter was more elusive, since there are not too many ghazal masters in the limelight these days). It’s to our great benefit that Ahluwalia was thus driven, since the result is her new self-titled CD.

With so much new Indian music veering toward the club-friendly bhangra style and the like, it’s refreshing to hear an emerging artist not only aiming more for the roots but doing it from a home base in Canada that may well make her the only composer of contemporary ghazals in the Western Hemisphere. And while the disc is clearly built around the strength of Ahluwalia’s original ghazals (her music, others’ words), she tackles some traditional Punjabi songs that are equally lovely.

Dense but lilting foundations of tabla, sarangi, harmonium and other familiar Indian instruments are heard, enveloping Ahluwalia’s clear, agile high vocal tones as she sings poetic/parabolic lyrics dealing mainly with love on various levels.

Opening up the fusion possibilities of ghazal a bit, some songs echo with a folksy feel one might associate with Ahluwalia’s adopted homeland, including typically fine fiddling by Cape Breton’s Natalie MacMaster. An inspired and heartfelt album, sure to please.

Buy Kiran Ahluwalia


Introduction to Ghazal

Westerners have become increasingly familiar with the classical music of India since it first became fashionable in the 1960s. But the Persian tradition, without a Beatles/Ravi Shankar collaboration to promote it, has remained a mystery, although it is becoming more recognized.Several centuries of Mogul rule in northern India left a strong imprint on Hindustani music: a result of the mysticism, poetry, and musical subtleties of the Persian language and culture.

The name Ghazal reflects that link: in the Persian tradition, a ghazal is a specific genre of poetry, characterized by an unusual blend of ecstatic spirituality and very earthy desires.

Ghazal in India

In India, ghazal has evolved into a form of semi-classical music that remains popular to this day, and usually takes the form of a love ballad. In both cases, the imagery of the texts often obscures the difference between spiritual and physical love.

Desire for a lover can be described in such exalted terms that it transcends the purely physical aspects of love. While these poems and ballads can be serious artistic and spiritual endeavors, they also reflect a sense of play – almost daring the audience to determine whether it’s really what it appears on the surface, and suggesting that spiritual and romantic love are two sides of the same coin.

(Excerpted from the liner notes by John Schaefer from “Moon Rise on the Silk Road” by the ensemble Ghazal. Courtesy of the World Music Institute)