Music is changing daily, evolving some may say. As music fans and artists search for a new sound the respect shown to ‘folk’ music in every genre seems to be dwindling. In a recent interview senior Pashto artist Suriya Khanum aka Mahjabeen Qazalbash opened up on her feelings. Her words can be mirrored for Punjabi folk music also.
Suriya Khanum has earned several titles and has many prestigious awards. She has represented Pakistan in the US, UK, Germany and Gulf States. She has produced numerous albums. Known as the melody queen, Ms Qazalbash besides Pashto has sung in Urdu, Persian, Turkish, Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Hindko and Seraiki.
During the interview, Mahjabeen showed displeasure over the dwindling standard of folk music. She made a point of asking young artists to produce more quality material by instilling the true spirit of singing. Her comments were not just aimed at singers but also musicians. Mahjabeen said the standard of folk singers was dropping as musicians and singers were solely dependant on computer-generated music. A lack of learning from mentors and ustads is a huge issue and is why she feels music is seemingly lifeless in this modern era.
Mahjabeen asked music directors and budding folk singers to produce quality music as it played a significant role in shaping the outlook of people towards a balanced and tasteful society. The public will only embrace folk music if the quality of it is high. Being a folk artist in name only is just not good enough. In-fact she goes onto to say cheap imitations of folk music are more damaging than pop music.
She said that she still did two hours practice on a daily basis and never accepted a music project that robbed her of art and high standards. “Music is a spiritual education, not just a mental luxury. It should convey a message and purify the souls,” she added.
Ms Qazalbash said that her favourite artist was Madam Noor Jahan but noted singers Gulnar Begum, Kishawar Sultan, Mashooq Sultan and Khial Mohammad remained dear to her heart. She said that young folk singers should not depend too much on computer music and should learn the delicacies of music.
Mahjabeen Qazalbash said that there was a good space for new artists but hard work and learning from Ustads were perquisites if they wanted to carve out a niche in a music career. Wanting a music career to span decades means you never stop learning and learning instruments and chords was vital to longevity. Folk singers should know the strength of the live music, she added.