Culture Circle: Upcoming singer dabbles in an array of music genres

Being an emerging vocalist from the provincial capital, Maham Suhail is also a poetess and part-time visual artist who has made great efforts for promotion of music.

This year, she was one of the 10 singers selected from around the world to have received the Goethe Talents Scholarship 2017 by the Music Board Berlin, Germany. She is also a co-producer, music director/composer and participant in a self-conceived inter-provincial music production, which was a folk fusion between Gilgit-Baltistan and Punjab. She has also contributed as a vocalist and producer to a project in Kolkata in 2016. She created an international ensemble working with folk jazz fusion, including Bengali folk instruments and language.

Maham told Dawn that she would be performing at the upcoming Rafi Peer Mystic Sufi Music Festival in collaboration with dhol maestros Goonga and Mithu Saeen, “One will be an experimental traditional song, titled ‘Dhol Tarana’ (tarana being a non-verbal language of syllables woven into melody form — an invention of Sufi saint Ameer Khusro), on a unique dhol rhythm devised by Mithu Saeen,” she explained.

She wrote and composed the tarana during joint rehearsals last year with Mithu Saeen. It is currently in production and would be performed live for the first time at the mystic Sufi festival. Akmal Qadri, Amir Azhar and Rakae Jameel are scheduled to accompany the troupe on flute, guitar and sitar, respectively.

She said her passion for music convinced her to take it up professionally a few years ago. Since then she has been performing, composing as well as recording and producing. The piano was the first instrument she learnt to play and has been vocally trained through choir singing in her early days as well as eastern classical in the past few years. Her influences include a range of genres from eastern/western classical/semi-classical, to folk, rock ‘n roll, blues, jazz to name a few. Her voice is a blend of these styles, and her music translates more often than not into world music.

Maham also works as a research writer, taking keen interest in fading cultural and music forms, and performing with indigenous musicians and instruments from around the world.

In 2013, she introduced the fading Sufi music form of Shabd Kirtan as a vocalist for the first time to the annual All Pakistan Music Conference in Lahore. She started practicing music professionally the same year, having the honour of being the last disciple of the last Shabd Kirtan raagi of the Rababi lineage, Bhai Ghulam Muhammad Chand.

She has lived in Kolkata, Santiniketan and New Delhi for six months during which she was a scholar at the prestigious Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata for two months.

Lahore will have a new vibe of cultural activities starting from the first week of the new year as the Lahore Music Meet (LMM) starts from Jan 6 at Alhamra Art Centre, The Mall.

The two-day festival is being organised this time in collaboration with the Punjab Council of Arts. It would be the third edition of the LMM; however, the council is collaborating with this festival for the first time, said additional secretary culture and executive director of the council, Saman Rai. She said Natasha Noorani, the moving spirit behind the festival, and the council had mutually decided to feature a blend of old, new and contemporary vocalists and instrumentalists during the two-day festival. Meanwhile, Ms Rai said the Information and Culture Department had got the approval of Rs80m for the Artistes Welfare Fund. She said the government would now issue 1,000 Khidmat Cards to the artistes all over Punjab.

In another development, the Information and Culture Department would run cultural buses on Dec 25. There would be cultural performances in the buses, mostly music-based. The department has got decorated three buses from the Lahore Transport Company for the purpose.

All Pakistan Music Conference will hold a musical event on Jan 1 at Alhamra Art Centre, The Mall.

Dr Amjad Pervaiz, Nauman Akhtar Khan, Akmal Qadri, flutist Muhammad Aslam and Sarangi player Zohaib Hassan would perform in the event.

Agalaxy of film stars, directors, producers, fashion models and film cast attended the premier of Arth- The Destination, a film by Shaan Shahid, at Cine Star Cinema, Township on Thursday night.

The red carpet had Saleem Sheikh, Meera, Iffat Omar, Syed Noor, Afzal Khan Rambo, Irfan Khoosat, Uzma Hassan, Shaan and Humaima Malik.

The film before its release had made a great hype because its Shaan’s first ever musical film having a nice blend of romance. Films cinematography, production and Uzma Hassan’s superb acting are a few things which need to be mentioned. The film is a remake of Mahesh Bhatt’s 1980s movie Arth and Shan, in his own words, wanted to strengthen the film trade between the two countries by going for the remake of the Indian movie.

Shaan has stepped into Raj Kiran’s shoes, Humaima Malick playing Smita Patil’s role; Mohib Mirza Kulbhushan Kharbanda, and Uzma Hassan—playing Shabana Azmi’s role.

– Shoaib Ahmed

Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2017 – Dawn News