At the MIF13 programme launch, we interviewed Simon Broughton, the Editor-in-chief of Songlines magazine. Simon talks about Abida Parveen, the power of her music and the affect of her voice.
Ask anyone in South Asia to name the greatest spiritual singer alive today, and it won’t be long before the name of Abida Parveen enters the conversation. Parveen sends listeners into raptures in a way matched only by the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who Parveen has described as her ‘spiritual brother’ — and here she performs in Manchester for the first time.
Born in Pakistan, Parveen specialises in ghazals and khafis, two distinct forms of Sufi poetry that date back centuries. Perhaps surprisingly, she also recently served as one of the judges on Sur Kshetra (Music Battlefield), the hugely popular Indo-Pakistani TV talent contest. But whether performing for Sufi devotees at religious shrines or grading acts on prime-time, Parveen’s approach remains the same: ‘Music should rise from the heart and go straight to the soul.’
Parveen rarely visits the West, in part because audiences in Pakistan and India are so hungry to see and hear her perform. This concert offers a rare opportunity to see one of the greats of modern devotional music. This is her only UK date.
‘She is an incredible Sufi singer with a gorgeous voice. It’s interesting to hear those poems sung by a woman. Female energy is different somehow, not better, just different… more pure emotion, and more open somehow.’
In memory of Faizaan Peerzada.
Produced by Manchester International Festival.