Music has no boundaries, says Pakistani Sufi singer

Sanam Marvi

Meenakshi Sinha, TNN Oct 3, 2013, 08.46PM IST

NEW DELHI: Sanam Marvi, 27, is a popular Pakistani folk and Sufi singer who sings in Punjabi and Sindhi. Born in Hyderabad in a Muslim Sindhi family, she learnt her music from her father Faqeer Ghulam Rasool and Ustad Fateh Ali Khan of Gwalior gharana. She has travelled around the world and is considered one of the finest Sufi singers around.

Marvi sings compositions of Allama Iqbal, Baba Bulleh Shah, Baba Sheikh Farid, Alam Lohar, Sachal Sarmast and the Sufi mystic from Sindh, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. She has also appeared in two seasons of Coke studio.

In an interview with TOI sometime back, Marvi spoke on the importance of cultural ties to strengthen bilateral relations between India and Pakistan.

What is it about Sufi music that transcends boundaries?

Sufi music is about spiritual feelings. It teaches love, care and affection and gives us a message of peace and harmony. That’s why everyone loves Sufism. Music surpasses all boundaries. It is loved across the world and is respected the world over. It transcends borders.

When and how did you get hooked to Sufi music?

I grew up on Sufi music. From the age of seven, I started accompanying my father, Faqeer Ghulam Rasool, a Sufi singer to Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai’s shrine. Since then the music has stayed with me.

You also sing folk and ghazals. What are your thoughts on folk music?

I feel really great at the recognition Sufi, folk and ghazals amongst the younger audiences. There’s tremendous appreciation of such music amongst them. Folk music has always been an important form of music because it is based on traditional thoughts and practices. That’s why they are so popular.

Has the popularity of ghazals dipped post the era of Ghulam Ali and passing away of Jagjit Singh?

Ghazal is still appreciated. But the era of Ghulam Ali, Mehdi Hassan and Jagjit Singh was the greatest. Sufi music is my absolute favourite because I get inner peace singing it.

How do you see Indian music scene as compared to Pakistan’s?

India is a huge market compared to Pakistan. Pakistani artists love to come to India and perform here. Performing in India is very important for all the Pakistani artists not only because Indians appreciate good music and good artists, but also because they get wider audience reach here. However, music has no boundaries and no one knows this better than the artists of both countries.

What is the state of music in Pakistan today?

Music is thriving. Sufi-folk music is very popular amongst the teenagers, especially since Coke studio happened. The youngsters in Pakistan like this kind of music a lot. There are dedicated followers.

Have things changed for art, music and culture under the present government of Pakistan?

The government of Pakistan facilitates the youth and artists in every field. Many good things are happening and people are encouraged in every field. Insha Allah, we shall have more friendly relations between the two countries in times to come.


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