Kashmir’s women singers have pushed the art of singing to new heights and entertain people not only in the valley but at global level with their soothing voices.
One among them is Shazia Bashir. She was born in Thajiwara village in Achabal, Anantnag in South Kashmir. She started singing songs at the young age and her work was appreciated widely in Kashmir. Later, she started her singing career in 2007 with a TV show called Milay Sur of DD Kashir.
Shazia was selected in Milay Sur in the first audition and with this opportunity she got very famous and developed more interest in singing.
“We were four participants in the TV show. I was the only female. I had never expected that I would be winner of that program which gave me confidence,” she said.
From 2008, Shazia started singing Kashmiri songs and she got lot of love and appreciation from people from all corners. In 2009, she started singing at Radio Kashmir (now All India Radio Srinagar) and there she got an opportunity to explore more. She also recorded many playback songs and participated in many shows and she loved to do it.
Her rise to success came with struggle, hard work, and perseverance. Recounting her struggle, Shazia said she used to travel every day by bus from Anantnag town to Srinagar and it was a very difficult experience to reach back home in late evening hours.
“During evening hours, my parents used to receive me on the main road and they would come with a light in their hand. But I was lucky to have my father who supported me all the time. My brother and mother also encouraged me,” she said.
She said it was very difficult to become a singer that too in Kashmir. “There were tough days which I faced. But we have to move ahead and pursue our dreams to make our life and living better. I am very thankful to the people who were always there for me,” she said.
Shazia said singers and artists especially females have to face negativity from some section of society but they have to fight it in order to succeed in their life.
“Choosing singing in a village was a difficult task in many angles. In villages people see such career choice differently,” she said.
Shazia, said there was a time when she got disturbed with the negative attitude of people and she decided to leave the profession. But, due to her determination, she continued singing and is in this profession from last 14 years.
She said that she is happy over the fact that many young artists including females are moving to arts, music and Bollywood. She calls it an encouraging sign.Shazia said there is no second option to hard work and hard work pays off.
“In any field, hard work is the key to success. Those who aspire to come in this field should come forward and pursue their dreams,” the young singer said.
Shazia sings in different language but, she says, her priority was and will always be to promote Kashmir language (her mother tongue).
Talking about promotion of Kashmiri language, she said the government should appreciate and recognize those who are working for the promotion of Kashmiri language.
“I don’t think there is any official platform to learn and contribute to the language in spite those who have setup the personal platforms are also least recognized,” she said adding, “The government should provide financial supportso that we also have some officially recognized institutions or platforms where one can learn and contribute to Kashmiri language.”
In 2012, Shazia was honored with the Naseem Akhter Memorial Award and the Bakshi Memorial Committee Award in 2014.
In 2014, her father passed away but she did not lose hope and continued to singing. In 2015, she sang in London and two years later returned to India to sing at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Center in Shashrang.
In 2016, she received Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar, an award given by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama. It is the highest Indian recognition given to practicing artists. She got it for her notable talent in the field of folk music of Jammu & Kashmir.
She is known for her voice not only in India, but also in other countries of the world.She has traveled to various parts of the world including United Kingdom, London, Australia and many other countries. Besides performing in light music, Ghazal, Sufi, Hamd and Naat genres, she has been singing Kirtan, Bhajan and Lila for Kashmiri Pandits at Jammu migrant camps.
In 2017, she got an opportunity to perform in Dubai and in 2019 she performed in Turkey.
Shazia had studied under such composers including Shri Krishan Langoo and Shri T.K. Jallali. She sang under the baton of Waheed Jeelani and with Munir Ahmad Mir and Qaiser Nizami.
She represents all-girl Pragaash band. She had sung songs by Raj Begum, Naseem Akhter, Gul Akhter, Shameem Azad, Kailsah Mehra, Darshana Mehra, Arrti Tikku, Jameela Khan, Shaista Ahmad, Mehmeet Syeed, Rashida, Tehseen and Akhter brothers among others.
She has also worked for Shehzadi Simon of Doordarshan Kendra and Humayun Qaiser of Radio Kashmir in Srinagar where she sang Ghazals in Urdu language.
Last year, she got ‘grade A’ in light music by the All India Radio (AIR) which is itself a great achievement.
There is a famous audio of one of her songs Tche Kamu Soni Maini on YouTube—believed to have been written by poetess Habba Khatoon and sung by generations in Kashmir—which has got millions of views on the internet. – RisingKashmir