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Abida Parveen mainly sings Qawwali music in Urdu.
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Begum Abida Parveen:

Abida Parveen is a popular singer of Ghazals, Sufiana kalaam and Punjabi folk.

Abida Parveen was born in Larkana, Sindh, Pakistan in 1954. Her father Ghulam Haider, ran a music school. The family was also close to shrines of Sufi saints and she was brought up in the environment of deep mysticism, poetry and music of Sufi saints. She learnt music initially from her father and then from Sham Chorasia gharana master Ustad Salamat Ali khan. Her singing career took off after marriage to Ghulam Hussain Sheikh, senoir producer in Radio Pakistan.

Her style of singing is full throated, almost manly. The strong influence of Begum Akhtar is evident. Her classical background gives her command over ornamentation and control over notes. The intensity she brings to singing makes her a compelling artist.

Abida primarily sings Qawalees, Sindhi & and Punjabi Kafees of great Sufi poets of the past. After the death of Nusrt Fateh Ali Khan, many consider her the next great mystic singer on the world stage. She is also adept at singing ghazals. An album released by Times Music, Faiz by Abida, made a splash by featuring on the international world music charts. The album was notched at number 12 among the top 20.

The queen of mystical singing, Abida Parveen is the owner of one of the most remarkable voices on earth. Parveen is noted for her rich, melodious voice and her powerful renditions of devotional music. Spiritual daughter of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, the major Sufi (Mystic) saint of Sindh, an 18th century poet and composer who blended folk music and classical raga in a style known as kafi, Abida Parveen is considered one of the prominent contemporary exponents of the great ghazal and kafi musical styles from the Indian subcontinent.

Parveen's repertoire includes traditional Sufi (Mystic) music [kafi and qawwali], classical music and ghazals. Rooted in the intense encounter between sensitivity and spirituality that is Sufism (Mysticism), she never ceases to sing her fiery love for the Divine. Accompanied by hand-pumped harmoniums, tabla and dholak, her fervid and inspirational singing is an experience not to be missed. Abida is widely regarded as the best folk artist of Pakistan.

Born in Larkana, Sindh, Pakistan, she started her singing career with the enthusiastic encouragement of her father, Ghulam Haider, who ran a music school in Larkana. Though women in Muslim society are rarely encouraged to pursue a musical career or any other career related to performing arts, Parveen's father recognized his daughter's extraordinary talent of singing at an early age and encouraged her to pursue it. Parveen's professional career crystallized and sailed across the smooth waves of the ocean of music after she got married to late Ghulam Hussain Sheikh, a senior producer in Radio Pakistan who became her mentor. Subsequently, she vanquished the flags of singing in the toughest field of traditional Sufi (Mystic) music. Abida Parveen got training in classical vocal music from the late Ustad Salamat Ali Khan who belonged to Sham Chorasi Gharana of Pakistan (a well-known music family having training schools in different parts of the world) and was also widely regarded as the king of classical music. While Abida Parveen does not regularly perform purely classical music, her prodigious command of the ornamental idiom and developmental genius of this genre is apparent throughout her music.

Parveen's inspiration is the Sufi (Mystic) saint Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. She sings in Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi and Seraiki (a Sindhi dialect). She sings kafi, ghazal and qawwali in a different and unique style that is her own. Abida Parveen envelops herself completely in Sufi music and gets spiritual comfort while singing it. The land of Pakistan, from where she hails, is very rich and fertile in the genres of Sufi (Mystic) music*, folk music** and ghazals***.

At a time when Sufi (Mystic) music's star is on the ascendant, her brand of devotional singing is attracting attention worldwide. In order to fully understand the Sufi music of Abida Parveen, no awareness of Sufism (Mysticism) is necessary because Parveen's devotional music has the power to communicate to its listeners.

Parveen is immensely popular abroad and has millions of fans around the globe who adore her gloriously honeyed voice and her ability to render Sufiana poetry with immaculate ease. A number of world renowned music companies have released her albums  among them are World Music, Sony Music, Music Today and Times Music respectively. Whether Abida Parveen sings Sufiana kafis, ghazals or regional folk songs, she regularly transports listeners into a world of spiritual ecstasy. Though Parveen's voice is not conventionally feminine, it moves listeners with its sheer strength and depth.

Despite her fame and musical brilliance, Parveen remains extremely simple in everyday life. She always gets up and greets those who come to meet her and speaks in a friendly tone. As a musician, Abida Parveen considers that it becomes her prime duty to convey the message (mystical poetry) of her elders and help listeners understand those messages. These include people like Nizamuddin Auliya, Hazrat Amir Khusru, Baba Bulleh Shah, Baba Farid Ganjshakar, Hazrat Shah Hussain and Hazrat Sultan Bahu, who are the people of God.

Parveen has sung the spiritual works of Hazrat Amir Khusru, Baba Bulleh Shah, Hazrat Shah Hussain and Hazrat Sultan Bahu, which have been released in different albums. Besides, she has also released an album of Faiz Ahmad Faiz's ghazal poetry.

Whenever Abida Parveen takes up a project, she immerses herself completely in its creation. For instance, when she did the album of Faiz's ghazal poetry, she spent four or five months researching the poetry of Faiz. Similarly, when she prepared the album of Hazrat Shah Hussain's mystic poetry, she studied the poetic style of the period to which Hazrat Hussain belonged.

Parveen has recently recorded the works of Sant Kabir and is on her way to do a few more poet-based projects. Abida Parveen has even worked on a ghazal album that traverses poets from Wali Dhakni and Siraj Aurangabadi to Faiz, right up to Nasir Kazmi. Besides, she has also worked on another album of Faiz's poetry because she thinks one album is not enough to convey everything he stood for. In addition to that, Parveen has worked on an album containing the Sufiana writings of Hazrat Sultan Bahu who has not been sung too much.

Abida Parveen likes poetry, which has a message, and a poet who is able to convey something deep, appeals to her. People often suggest to Abida to add a western flavour to her traditional music but she always turns them down, saying our own music is so rich that it does not require such additions. She thinks if too many instruments are added in the music, it loses its flavour. And it is pretty obvious that in her kind of music, conveying the message is important instead of depending too much on the orchestration.

To this day, Parveen has performed in a wide range of venues from the shrines of saints to the world's greatest concert halls. She has received many awards; one of them is the Pride of Performance awarded to her by the government of Pakistan. Parveen has a long list of albums to her credit; some of them are Raqs-e-Bismal, Faiz by Abida, Mystic Poetry, Visal, Pakistani Sufi Songs, Jahan-e-Khusru and many others.

Parveen's desire is to open a music school where dedicated students can learn the techniques. Abida Parveen is a true human being. She is the pride of Pakistan and Pakistan is proud of her.

* Sufi music includes the highly structured genre of qawwali and kafi. Qawwali, a mystic style of music is one of the innovations of Hazrat Amir Khusru, the 13th century saint, poet and musician. Late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan introduced innovations in qawwali by using western instruments in it, which appealed to the listeners around the world. The big names in qawwali singing include late Ustad Fateh Ali Khan (late Ustad Nusrat's father), late Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan (late Ustad Nusrat's paternal uncle), late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, late Aziz Mian, Abida Parveen and Sabri Brothers respectively.

Kafi is a kind of poetic expression with a blend of mysticism. Most of the kafis have been written by the great Sufis (Mystics) of the Punjab and Sindh provinces, namely Baba Bulleh Shah, Hazrat Sultan Bahu, Hazrat Shah Hussain, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai and so on. A number of very talented musicians have excelled in the art of kafi singing, polishing the predominantly folk structure into a highly ornate semi-classical art form. These include Pathanay Khan, Shahida Parveen, Ustad Allah Dad, Abida Parveen and many others respectively.

** Folk music portrays the culture and traditions of a region. Pakistan has four provinces i.e. Sindh, Balouchistan, Punjab and NWFP. Each province has its own folk music portraying its culture and traditions. Amongst the pioneers in the field of folk music's presentation were late Alam Lohar, late Sain Akhtar, late Allan Fakir, Zahida Parveen and some others. The present scene is dominated by Arif Lohar (late Alam Lohar's son), Atta Ullah Eisa Khalivi and Abida Parveen respectively.

*** Ghazal is essentially a poetic genre, which has a strong tradition of singing attached to it. It deals with the whole spectrum of human experience but its central concern is love. Ghazal is an Arabic word, which literally means talking to women. Ghazal originated in Iran in the 10th century AD. But it is said to have begun with Hazrat Amir Khusru (the 13th century saint, poet and musician) in Northern India. Those exclusively known for ghazal singing are Fareeda Khanum, Iqbal Bano, Ghulam Ali, Mehdi Hassan, Hamid Ali Khan, late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen and a few others.
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