Abida Parveen


Born in Larkana in 1954, Abida Parveen grew up in a family in which the Muslim Sufi culture took a central place. Although a musical career for women is rarely approved of in Muslim communities, her father recognised her special talent and encouraged her to sing. Abida Parveen took music lessons at her father's music school and with Ustad Salamat Ali Khan. At various religious festivals, she came into contact with the musical tradition of the Sufi's, who worship the divine through their music. Marrying Ghulam Hussain Sheikh, a producer at Radio Pakistan, gave her the opportunity to further develop her career as a singer. Parveen has made more than one hundred recordings, but to see her perform is something else. As a member of the audience at a concert in Lahore said: 'The power was like at a heavy metal concert, but it was only Abida with some percussionists and a harmonium.' A woman in a man's world, Parveen is very successful, reaching stellar status on Indian television. Drawing her material from old Sufi poems which she sets to music herself, she performs worldwide at concert venues as well as holy places. 'Music transcends the barriers of language, culture and religion,' Parveen explains. 'Even if an Englishman who does not understand the words, listens to Sufi music, it will take him to higher spheres. There is a message in the music, the Sufi message of love.'