Farida Khanum: The Queen of Ghazals Sustaining the Old Tradition


The immensely famous Farida Khanum owing to her melodious voice and extraordinary singing capabilities continues to reign as the queen of Ghazals in the world of music.  Born in Kolkata in 1934 she was brought up in the city of Amritsar. Fardia Khanum has undoubtedly been endeared by generations of music lovers in the sub- continent and therefore continues to be the most famous Ghazal singer in Pakistan.  Her melodious voice is considered an adornment to ghazals as she can sing with ease even the highest and the lowest notes owing to her extraordinary vocal range.  She hails from the province of Punjab and has a sister and three brothers. Khanum began her music training at an early age and even got trained in different forms of light music such as Khayal, Dadra and Thumri.  Her sister Mukhtar Begum and Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan had been her singing mentor for the most part.  Her family had moved to Pakistan after partition and consequently she had to discontinue her music career for quite some time.  However her admiration for music impelled her to once again peruse her goals.  Her first concert was held in Lahore in 1950 and her extraordinary singing style impressed the audience.  Later she joined Radio Pakistan and in no time her voice began to dominate the air waves.   She however regards Z.A Bukhari as her mentor who groomed her and therefore accredits him for her soaring popularity as a radio singer.  Khanum has performed many times for the television audiences and her songs have always impressed the audiences.   Khanum was invited by the late President Ayub Khan to perform in public and this particular performance actually made her an overnight star.  Khanum has rendered many hits over the years. However Aaj Janne ki zid na karo is considered one of her best ghazals.  Her work speaks volume as she has also sung in some Pakistani films.

 Following are some less Known Interesting Facts about Farida Khanum

  • Farida Khanum has the ability to perform high speed taans and sargams which takes her to a sublime level of classical singing.
  • She also collaborated with Afghan singers and performed Persian –language ghazals in concerts in the 60s and 70s.
  • Soon after her marriage Khanum was told by her husband not to perform in public as he wanted her to focus solely on family life.
  • She is deeply religious and does not perform in the month of Ramzan.

Khanum has been the recipient of Hilal-e-Imtiaz (2005) besides being awarded Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan award by Manmohan singh in Gwalio. She has extensively toured the world for performances and has received many honors in different part of the world. Over the years she has reduced public performances however she performed for Coke Studios in 2015.  She has also been awarded Life Time Achievement award at the 5th Hum TV Awards.  Farida Khanum has five daughters and a son and lives a comfortable life in Lahore.

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