By: Ali Jan Maqsood
Balochistan is a province with multiple talents, be it either gender. Despite getting very less resources, the Baloch have always emerged tacitly in every walk of life. When it comes to singing, we witness a great many Baloch singers releasing multiple cassettes annually. As per an estimation, annually around 70 to 100 singers release tracks in the Balochi language.
Dishearteningly, we see very few Balochi female singers in this field who can easily be counted. However, they (the very few Balochi female singers) fight long way to boost up the other Baloch females to coming into the field of singing. The very bright Baloch female singers who, although, faced challenging times to pursue their potentials, deserve lot more than what they are receiving.
Hani Khan, hailing from Koshqalat Turbat, is a student of Faculty of Law University of Turbat and an emerging Baloch singer working from dawn to dusk to entitling her name in this field.
“I have always wished to have my name in singing from childhood for it is my passion. Since, there have been very few female singers in the Baloch society and I always wanted to be one”, says Hani. She further adds, “Most women in our society are restricted with cultural norms, however, I have never been told to go back from achieving what I dreamt of.”
Hani Khan is a real talent arising so fast with the support of her family. She says her struggles are underway to reaching her dreams. She is going to give her life’s first attempt in studio very soon. Hani asks the other parents to letting their daughters pursue their desired professions without restrictions.
Mehar Baloch, a Gwadar-based emerging female singer, is another rising star in the Baloch society. She made a great name for her in this field when she made the start of her career back in 2017. However, she was subjected to negative critics when she planned for coming upfront as a singer, howbeit, she survived with her positive attitude towards singing and family support.
“I always wished to be a good singer, fortunately, I always found my family as my biggest support in a society that confines women. Although I got a great many critics in the society in my early days, but I found more encouragement and motivation,” she explains, “In fact, I always analyze the critics so closely if anything were wrong in what I am doing.”
Mehar’s potentials are never hidden to anyone, albeit, she still misses the opportunity to be trained properly in singing environment as in an academy. “Since I reside in Gwadar where we have only one academy where male singers are taught different techniques of singing. Sadly, we females are not allowed to turn to the academy neither do we have any other separate academy for female singers.”
Despite Mehar could not make it to any academy, she did learn a great part of singing from her teacher Ustaad Asghar Hussain at home. She has proved her passion for singing, the cause that lifted her amongst the best Balochi singers of the time. In fact, she does not avail such an environment where she can continue her singing, yet she is committed to her passion and reaching to milestones strongly.
“I have started recording my work from 2016 and released five songs in the name of my late teacher Shaheed Sir Zahid. And then in 2019 I made my second album with my self support. I mostly try to choose poets who prose meaningfully as Syed Zahoor Shah Hashmi, Atta Shad, G.R Mulla and so on,” she points out, “Although many poets have offered me to sing their poems and they would bear all the expenses of the recordings, but I refused since I believe in lyrics that touch my heart other than my facilitation,” states Mehar when I asked her of her released albums and criteria of selecting the poets to sing.
Her success as a female singer is an example for many of the other Balochi female singers to come up front. It is a lesson for the parents to let their daughters to realize their wishes.
“I, as a woman, ask the other Baloch women to go for their dreams, but also remember the worth of relationships and the boundaries we have, ” Mehar advises, “Getting to dreams is not bad but thinking of thousand times if your decision, in either way, is affecting the family and society or not is worth.”
Mehar believes when you are not a good human being and care for none but your self-interests solely, being an artist does not suit your personality thence after.
Similarly, Uzma Haya Baloch, the young Baloch artist from Karachi, is yet another shining name in the following field. She had a very rough beginning to her career when she was ill-treated by the society including her own family. She, to her fortune, had the full support of her grandfather which lasted her success in the profession.
“I do not know when I got interested in singing, but by the time I came to my sense I started singing,” says Uzma Haya Baloch. “Despite I had a very disappointing start to my career when everyone cursed me: although my own family stood against me. I cried the most thinking of what I had done wrong, but thankfully, I had the support of my grandfather who always told me not to get afraid of anyone and stood by me helping me in each phase of my career.”
When a female singer intends to make a name for her, every possible obstacle is thrown on her way to pull her leg back in our community, complains Uzma. She further adds, “I am mostly not called in many of the conducted Balochi programs and they allege on me publicly that I refused to come,” Uzma says she is claimed to have refused to join programs where she is not even invited in order to bring hatred for her among public. “When I am called in any of the program, they make excuses that sound system is out of order or play the music in opposite of my lyrics which creates hurdles for me in the programs.”
Despite all the hurdles Uzma faces, she is always committed to stay strong in the field and work tirelessly for the promotion of Balochi music. “When people refused to sponsor me in my early stage, I made a YouTube channel where I shared my songs.” She goes on, “Later on, I released four albums for which I was supported and sponsored by the poets.”
Uzma’s background tells how a women have to fight long way to make a name for her in the given society. However, giving up must never be an option, she suggests. “All those Baloch women wishing to make a name in singing need to convince their family foremost. Singing is never deemed bad, it is a way to promoting the Balochi language and music for which female singers are the dire need of time. When you succeed to step in the field, no one can stop you thereafter. But, do not lose hope and work sincerely with your passion.”
All in all, Balochi music, looking at the current status, needs more female singers to boost up the quality of Balochi songs. For boosting female singers, government and Balochi music promoting societies need to work collectively such as building separate academies for female singers etc.
On the other hand, the families should always support their daughters if they have interest in the field. They have to function as removers of hurdles in spite of creating more challenges on their ways. A similar role must be played by our society: they ought to encourage, motivate and uplift the females when they think of promoting the Balochi language and music.
The present Balochi singers in our society as Hani Khan, Mehar Baloch, Uzma Haya Baloch, Faiza Ameen, Sameena Kanwal, and many others are living examples of how success can come to you no matter if you are a male or female. Success depends on support and efforts one makes sincerely.
It is time to encourage our female singers who have interest and are by now hidden to come up front. Challenges will definitely arise, but facing them courageously and fighting long will lead them to utmost success. They should not get disappointed and shine brightly in the society. It helps the promotion of Balochi language and music which is, side by side, a great honor. Therefore, stand strongly to rise the highest.
Ali Jan Maqsood is student of Law at University Law College Quetta and a former teacher at Dynamic English Language Teaching Academy (DELTA) in Turbat. He tweets at @Alijanmaqsood12