Ghazals and their Goddesses

The mesmerizing poetry was made even more spellbinding by their not so conventional voices!

The Ishq was made Sufiyana and the Love found more expressions than just romance!

Qawwalis were the new adult rock and lyrics found more meaning than music for a while!

- To all the gemstones who lend their voices and lives to ‘Ghazal Gayaki’

Here enlisting the female gems who have earned their places in millions of hearts by their ada and kala!!

1. Farida Khanum

Roots in Amritsar, born in Kolkata and now in Lahore, Pakistan; Farida is a Classical singer being entitled “Mallika-e-ghazal” by Times of India.

She started learning Ghazal from her sister Mukhtar Begum at age seven and later learnt Khayal, Thumri and Dadra from Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan. Her sister Mukhtar Begum would take her, a seven-year-old Farida, to Khan’s place for riyaaz.

She became a star in Pakistan when President Ayub Khan first invited her to a public recital in the ’60s. Khanum was awarded the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, Pakistan’s highest civilian honour.

Her claim to fame was the unforgettable ghazal “Aaj Jane ki Zid Na Karo”.

2. Abida Parveen

A Pakistani singer of Sindhi descent and one of the foremost exponents of Sufi music, she is held as one of the greatest world’s singers.

She received her musical training initially from her father, Ustad Ghulam Haider, whom she refers as Baba Sain and Gawwaya. He had his own musical school where Parveen got her devotional inspiration from. She and her father would often perform at shrines of Sufi Saints. Parveen’s talent compelled her father to choose her as his musical heir over his two sons. She sang her first complete kalam when she was 3 years old.

Parveen also has a distinct clothing style which she has created out of ease and comfort. She wears long simple frocks buttoned up to the top covered with a coat. She is always accompanied by an ajrak, a sindhi duppatta,which she claims come from the dargah of Shah Bhitthai and her wardrobe are full of it. Parveen always lets her curly hair untied.

Her claim to fame were the cherished Yaar ko Humne from the album Raqs-e-Bismil and Tere Ishq Nachaya which is a rendition of Bulleh Shah’s poetry.

3. Begum Akhtar

Akhtari Bai Faizabadi, fondly known as Begum Akhtar was a well-known Indian singer of Ghazal, Dadra and Thumri genres of Hindustani classical music.

Received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for vocal music, and was awarded Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan (posthumously) by Govt. of India. She was conferred upon the title of Mallika-e-Ghazal

She trained under Ustad Imdad Khan and classical stalwarts like Mohammad Khan, Abdul Waheed Khan of Lahore, and finally she became the disciple of Ustad Jhande Khan.

Her first public performance was at the age of fifteen. The famous poetess, Sarojini Naidu, appreciated her singing which encouraged her to continue singing ghazals with more enthusiasm.

She was amongst the early female singers to give public concert, and break away from singing in mehfils or private gatherings. She also acted in Indian Cinema and sang all her songs herself.

She has nearly four hundred songs to her credit.

4. Noor Jahan

Noor Jahan was the adopted stage name for Allah Wasai, a singer and actress in British India and Pakistan. With a career spanned seven decades, she was given the honorific title of Malika-e-Tarannum

She has recorded about 10,000 songs in various languages of India and Pakistan including Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and Sindhi languages.

Along with Ahmed Rushdi, she holds the highest record of film songs in the history of Pakistani cinema. She is also considered to be the first female Pakistani film director.

In 1957, Jahan was awarded the President’s Award for her acting and singing capabilities.

5. Penaz Masani

Penaz Masani is an Indian Ghazal singer who started singing in 1981 and has made over 20 albums in following years

In her career, she has won a number of awards, including the title of ‘Shehzadi Tarunnam’ and the 11th ‘Kalakar Award’ for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Music’. Masani has worked as a playback singer for Bollywood, in more than 50 Hindi movies and sung in over ten languages. Under the aegis of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, she has performed in countries as far reaching as Germany South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Vietnam.

She was honored with the Padma Shree award in 2009 too!

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