Abida Parveen is a popular singer of Ghazals, Sufiana kalaam and Punjabi folk. Abida Parveen was born in Larkana, Sindh, Pakistan
in 1954. Abida was born in Larkana (Sindh province, Pakistan) in 1954. She received her musical training initially from her
father, Ghulam Haider, and subsequently from Ustad Salamat Ali Khan.
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.
She embarked upon her professional career from Radio Pakistan, Hyderabad, in 1973. Her first hit was the Sindhi song "Tuhinje
zulfan jay band kamand widha". This song had been sung by many other Sindhi singers before her, but Abida brought her
own unique style to it, rooted in classical music. She has sung in Sindhi, Urdu, Hind and Seraiki.
Although she is associated most closely with the verses of the Sufi saint Shah Abdul Latif, she has also sung the verses
of other Sufi saints, including Amir Khusrau, Bulleh Shah, Sachal Sarmast, Sultan Bahu, and others such as Kabir and Waris
In recent years, it has become fashionable to call Abida the true inheritor of the mantle of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, a
giant of Sufi music who died in 1997. While such judgements are necessarily subjective, there is certainly much that Abida
has in common with Nusrat. Like him, she possesses a truly magnificent voice, is unassuming despite her superstar status,
and her music is informed by a deep commitment to the ideals of Sufism. For both, the act of singing is a passionate offering
to God, and for both the deepest part of their magic lies in the fact that they are able to bring the listeners heart to resonate
with the music, so deeply that we ourselves become full partners in that offering.
Abida Parveen is regarded as a singer who has compromised neither the form nor content of her classical training while
nevertheless retaining a compelling freshness that is endearing to a contemporary and often younger audience. Her singing
has been compared to Afro-American Blues and Jazz singers like Nina Simone, Billie Holliday and Mahalia Jackson. While this
comparison may have merit, it would be technically inaccurate to compare classically trained devotional singing to Jazz or
Blues traditions. Where these two traditions do occasionally meet, however, is in the deep soul-searching, the melancholy
that is sometimes expressed in anticipation of the divine release of the soul from its earthly torpidity and bondage. The
only western style of singing remotely comparable to Abida's would be certain forms of sacred music, for example the Tallis
Scholars. Sacred music, like sacred art, draws its inspiration and technical brilliance from years training at the feet of
a musical director, spiritual Guru or Ustad in Urdu. Such training is incomplete without devotional homage to the teacher
and an understanding of the ideals of transcendence as well as immanence in artistic expression. This training, under a good
Ustad can take the shape of heightened awareness of the healing and spiritual properties of music, much like Nada Siddha,
the inner sounds discovered through deep meditation and yoga under a competent Guru. Abida has repeatedly said that her singing
has many healing effects on the listener, and in this sense Abida may be compared to the great North Indian musician, Tansen,
whose music was said to have created spontaneous and miraculous effects on his listeners.
Abida is perhaps equally renowned as an accomplished Ghazal singer in Urdu and Sindhi, and an exponent of Punjabi, Urdu
and Sindhi Sufiana Kalam, which literally translates as the 'Sayings of the Sufis', comprising the poems and aphorisms of
the great Sufis of the Indian sub-Continent. Sufiana Kalam is also closely aligned to Sikh Punjabi devotional singing, otherwise
known as the "Shabad Kirtan tradition". It is always interesting to witness, in times of heightened communal tensions
in the Indian Sub-Continent, Abida's husky but equally delicate voice proclaiming a deeper bond of Universal Love that soars
above the boundaries that divide religious and secular denominations. In this sense, her message can be compared to the likes
of Kabir and Nanak, both of whom united Hindu and Muslim. The mystical aspect of Abida's musical message contains broad humanitarian
Abida Parveen has been gifted with perhaps one of the very greatest female voices of recent times for the proclamation
of arguably one of the most important messages of our time. Abida has received many prestigious music awards for her singing,
and is often invited to music festivals in India and abroad. Widely and professionally regarded as the "Singers' Singer"
or the Artists' Artist, it is not surprising that her admirers include some of the very best singers of the sub-continent.
Although she is not as well known as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in the West, Abida regularly tours the USA, Europe and the UK.
President's Award for Pride of Performance (1982) and the Sitara-e-Imtiaz (2005).