Coke Studio Episode 4: A multi-region musical excursion!
(Pakistan, 02 July 2011) Coke Studio’s Episode 4 will present a series of musical excursions from various regions across the country. The sessions will reveal the cultural significance of music to an ethnic identity, featuring songs in six regional languages: Sindhi, Balochi, Brahvi, Punjabi, Siraiki and Braj, in addition to our national language, Urdu. From obscure, indigenous song-craft to the more widely recognizable genres of music, these languages and dialects convey the spirit and essence of a region and express the unique cultural characteristics of a people.
Featuring in Episode 4 is the band, Sketches with their rendition of “Mandh Waai” – a modern day tribute to the revered Sindhi poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai which faithfully adheres to the repetitive refrain aspect characteristic of Waai and keeps the focus on the poetry with the simplicity of its acoustic arrangement.
Folk legend Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi returns to Coke Studio in Episode 4 with “Pyaar Naal” which epitomizes the eloquence of Siraiki. Indeed Coke Studio has enveloped the essence of this romantic number by enhancing the mood through the appropriate choice of instruments including the accordion, played by House Band member Jaffer Zaidi and the mandolin by guest musician Amir Azhar.
Akhtar Chanal Zahri also features again on the sets of Coke Studio in Episode 4, bringing with him the vibrant rhythms of Balochistan with “Nar Bait”, a traditional Balochi Brahvi folk song. This ancient indigenous style of music employs vocal accents in conjunction with percussive elements to enhance the rhythmic pattern of the groove.
Episode 4 also features a tribute to folk singer Reshma as rendered by artist Komal Rizvi with “Lambi Judaai”. Coke Studio has reinvented the popular classic by presenting the nostalgic melody against a backdrop of rich chordal elements to take on the quality of a ballad from the ‘50’s where Rizvi builds on the emotions and expressions of the lyrics.
The Coke Studio sessions will culminate with a collaborative number by maestros Sajjad Ali and Sanam Marvi with “Rung Laaga” sung in Braj and Punjabi. The song centers on the symbolic significance of colour in a cultural context. This Coke Studio version will musically present an alternative perspective to the conventional symbolism by using an uncharacteristically somber musical arrangement to dramatic effect.
With the airing of Episode 4, the Coke Studio journey continues – pushing the known boundaries of experimental fusion – the musical explorations of the imprints and impressions of a myriad of influences reveal an ever-widening vista of cultural diversity and the exciting promise of potential discoveries! Be part of this experience on 03 July 2011 06:00 PM and onwards on television channels, radio stations and online, across Pakistan, with the final episode to air on 17 July 011! In the meantime, keep yourself logged on to www.cokestudio.com.pk to follow the Coke Studio journey.
Coke Studio Season 4 Episode 4 Airing Date and Time:
Episode 4: 03 July 2011, Sunday, 6:00 PM and onwards – multiple airing times of multiple mediums
For channel lists and show timings, log on to www.cokestudio.com.pk
About Episode 4 Featured Artists:
Jamshoro is home to the cascading waters of the River Indus, artistic pottery and four big Universities. It is also the bedrock of inspiration for two young musicians from the city who have set out to revive the forgotten melodies of Sindh.
“Sindh incorporates Sufi and Folk beautifully,” says Saif Samejo, the lead singer of Sketches, a two member sufi-alternative-rock band on a mission to re-introduce the richness of Sindhi ethnicity through their music.
The story of Sketches’ inception goes back to 2003, when Samejo, an English Literature student, and Naeem Shah, a Fine Arts student met at Jamshoro University and bonded over similar tastes in music. Shah would play the guitar and Samejo would hum along. Both musicians have a deep and abiding love for their cultural heritage and their interests range from sufi poetry and folk legends to the revival of traditional instruments and the indigenous music of the shrines.
Eventually their love for old folk stories and sufi saints fused with their taste for music like that of Vital Signs and Junoon, leading to the formation of a new sound, “What we eventually created was a little different; our individuality is the developed taste of sufi and pop, a merger of East and West.”
They released their debut album in February 2010 by the name of “Dastkari” meaning ‘one’s own creation’ named out of love for what they had created. The album, that contains songs in Sindhi, Saraiki and Urdu, bursts with ballads, alternative rock, sufi and folk. Sketches is not scared to experiment; their approach to combinations of different elements of music is simple: “We don’t have one genre,” they say, “Music is our genre.”
Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi
In Attaullah Khan Essakhelvi’s household in Mianwali Punjab, music was a form of entertainment that was not just looked down upon, it was also strictly forbidden. Essakhelvi recalls that his father used to own a radio set that he would turn on just to listen to the news and then quickly lock up lest someone dared listen to a tune. Little did he know that his own son would grow up to become one of the most popular Pakistani folk singers.
Essakhelvi traces his overriding love of music back to his earliest childhood memories. He sang – despite the social taboos. And secretly, while still in school, he sought to learn more about music. One of his teachers, Syed Nasiruddin Shah Bukhari helped hm. “He taught me Mohammed Rafi’s songs, Mukesh’s songs and told me never to stop singing,“ Essakhelvi reminisces. Soon Essakhelvi’s passion for music overcame his fear of society, and he tried – unsuccessfully – to convince his parents to let him sing. “I tried to describe to them what happens inside of me when I sing… I begged them,” he remembers. “Maybe they would have brought themselves to bear it. They were, after all, my parents. But the system, the rules and traditions of where I come from would never have allowed it.”
At 18, a disillusioned Attaullah Khan Essakhelvi left home. He went from province to province, city to city, doing odd jobs, surviving. During this time, he nurtured his bond with music, singing and often recording himself on cassette tapes that he later distributed. One day, to his surprise, he received an invitation from a recording company in Faisalabad to come to their studio and record some folk songs. It turned out that they had come across one of his home recordings. Essakhelvi kept the appointment and recorded four albums in one go. When they were released at the end of 1977 they became nationwide bestsellers. Attaullah Khan Essakhelvi has never looked back.
After 40 years of singing countless folk songs, holding the world record for the highest number of audio albums ever released by a singer, and belting out award-winning anthems in five different languages all over Pakistan and the world, Essakhelvi still maintains that all of this was never his intention. “I didn’t yearn to become a professional singer,” he says, “I was simply compelled to sing. It was a passion.” This year Esakhelvi brings that passion to Coke Studio.
Sajjad Ali started singing when he was seven and released his first album, “Master Sajjad sings Memorable Classics” in 1979 when he was just thirteen years old. This ambitious undertaking included a collection of classic numbers previously sung by the likes of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Mehdi Hassan. Ali went on to make numerous television appearances but his true potential was not realized until 1983, when he was invited to perform on Silver Jubilee, a PTV stage show directed by Shoaib Mansoor. It was this memorable performance by the then 17-year-old Sajjad Ali that brought instant recognition within the music industry and the lasting appreciation of a wider audience.
After a series of albums celebrating the classics, Sajjad Ali decided to concentrate on his real area of interest – popular music. A prolific songwriter, Ali released three pop albums in quick succession. The unusual combination of Sajjad Ali’s classically trained voice and his catchy sing-along melodies had a unique appeal and his albums were well received by the public. However, it was the release of his single Babia in 1993 that catapulted Sajjad Ali to unequivocal stardom.
Propelled by the momentum of the single’s success, Ali lost no time in recording and releasing an album. Titled Babia ’93, the album contained three hit singles – Babia, Bolo Bolo and Kuch Larkiyaan – and turned Sajjad Ali into a household name.
Now, almost two decades and many successful albums later, Sajjad Ali, singer, songwriter and composer, comes to Coke Studio for the first time, with a voice that, in his own words, is “more mature” and a signature style that is appealing in its uniqueness.
As a little girl, Sanam Marvi and a group of children from her village, scrambled into a neighbour’s house to take a look at the first television set ever to arrive at their little village in Dadu, Sindh. Squirming with excitement, in the midst of a clutter of kids, she watched in awe as Abida Parveen sat on a stage and sung in all her glory. A verse from the song struck Marvi so strongly that she went home that evening and told her father that all she wanted to do was sing.
“Tere ishq nachaaya karke thaiyya thaiyya
cheti bauhreen we tabeeba naheen te main margaeea.”
This verse, which literally means: “Love for you has made me dance in tune to the rhythm. Quickly come, O physician! Else, I’m dead for certain” has defined Marvi’s entire life. “If there was no music in my life I don’t think I would be alive,” she explains, “It is there – therefore I am.”
At the age of seven, Marvi would position herself in a park outside the Radio Pakistan building alongside her father and teacher Fakir Ghulam Rasool, and sing for passersby. They hoped that somebody important would hear her, discover the talent within and give her her first big break. Marvi’s father would urge people who exited the building to listen to his daughter for a few moments, and the child would quickly burst into song, striving to give her best performance each time.
“There was a point I was ready to give up”, she remembers wistfully, “but my father said, “No. We just have to try harder.” And she did. “That is why singing to me is not just a passion. It is my justujoo”, explains Marvi, “my quest, my mission”.
In 2004, a regional Sindhi channel, finally gave Marvi her first opportunity to sing on air. After this a slew of performances followed before she was invited, in 2009, to a broadcast on national TV, where she was interviewed as a talented young classical singer.
Now, while Marvi performs all over the world, she keeps returning to the shrines to reconnect with her roots. “It was at the dargahs of Sachal Sarmast, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai and Shahbaz Qalandar, in the midst of hordes of people and fakirs that I learned how to sing,” remembers Marvi, who sings only Sufic verse, “I still go there and sing for them, and give my hazri, because of course the Lord has given me more than I deserve.”
There still exists a home video of a nine-year-old Komal Rizvi at a friends’ birthday party. She is standing right in front of the camera, clad in a long, puffy polka dotted frock, oblivious to the festivities around her and deeply involved in a little show of her own: a dance number! The meticulous attention to her moves and adoration of the camera is difficult to miss. “The germs were there from the very beginning,” recalls Rizvi laughing, “And I love it!”
Rizvi has always loved being center stage. From a nine-year-old dancing queen to an actress in a popular drama serial when she was sixteen – to a singing sensation at eighteen and now a TV show host, Rizvi’s career has been a roller coaster of performances, and she has enjoyed every moment of it.
Rizvi was born in Dubai and raised in England and Nigeria. She came to Pakistan as a teenager and embarked on her career as an entertainer while still in school. During this time, alongside preparing for her A Levels Rizvi acted in a popular drama serial Hawaaein and released her first pop album called Bauji. Later, while enrolled at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Rizvi appeared in a number of television plays. She then jetted off to Bombay to host a show for a popular Indian music channel and simultaneously released her second album titled Parbat.
Now, after a long hiatus, Rizvi returns to the limelight, showcasing her talent at Coke Studio this year. Commenting on her relationship with music the performer states, “My relationship with music has always been a personally rewarding one.” Rizvi recently released a single titled Chahiye and is currently working on her new album set to launch by the end of this year.
Akhtar Chanal Zahri
Akhtar Chanal Zahri describes music simply as “fuel for the soul”.
His distinctive voice carries with it the stories of his birthplace – the sweltering fields of Balochistan, where young shepherds are raised to the tunes of regional folk songs while they work. “Where I come from, when a child is born, the only two things he knows how to do are sing and cry – music is a part of us from the very beginning.” says the 60-year-old folk singer. “The songs I hummed as a youngster watching my sheep, are embedded in my memory.” Zahri believes that every animal, field, flower and blade of grass can feel the positive energy of music.
These songs are still sung on the fields of Balochistan in Brahui, the mother tongue of historically nomadic tribes living in a narrow corridor stretching from the coast of Las Bela through Khuzdar, Kalat, Nushki to Quetta, as well as along Afghanistan’s Helmand River and in Turkestan and Sistan, Iran. With its closest linguistic neighbors being the Dravidian languages in far-away South India, Brahui – a unique language spanning the borders of Persia, South Asia and Central Asia, is today seen as vulnerable to extinction.
In 1964 Chanal started taking formal singing lessons from an ustaad. In 1973 he brought regional folk to national attention after he was discovered by the Balochi Radio Station, and in 1974 Chanal’s music became popular nationwide when his song Deer Deer was first aired live on TV. Since then Akhtar Chanal has traveled all over the world, including the United States, the Netherlands and Europe for tours. In 1998 he was also awarded the Pride of Performance.
This season Chanal joins us at Coke Studio, with a sound that inspires, thrills and awes and at the same time touches the heart with its Balochi passion, and whimsical Pakistani beauty.
About Coke Studio Season 4:
Coke Studio embarks on its fourth season with a heightened awareness of the invisible depths of the musical foundations upon which it stands. Expanding on the experiences of the previous three seasons, Coke Studio now continues along the path of self-discovery with a fresh perspective on the scale of diversity – of music, poetry, cultures and languages – that exist in Pakistan.
In Season 4 the Coke Studio journey is rich and varied. It takes us deeper into the realm of classical music – introducing promising new talent, highlighting branches of music that have evolved from the classical root and presenting demonstrations of the ancient art form by universally acknowledged maestros. Coke Studio will also be showcasing styles of music that are uncommon yet exceptional and therefore, very precious. In keeping with the Coke Studio tradition of expanding the boundaries of mainstream listening, there is the inclusion of regional language songs. Making valuable additions to the country’s known talent pool, Coke Studio also introduces some gifted, yet virtually unknown singers that have earned a place on this platform due to their skill and talent alone. And providing perfect balance to the musical spectrum of this season, Coke Studio continues to acknowledge the importance of contemporary music via fusion and cross-genre collaboration numbers – featuring pop singers, a diverse range of bands and a house-band that combines the best of eastern and western instrumentation.