While there are several challenges, Balochistan’s women singers are making their presence felt in the province’s struggling music industry
Between 70 and 100 singers release tracks in Balochi language every year. Dishearteningly, only a few of them are women.
Hani Khan, hailing from Koshqalat, Turbat, is an emerging Baloch singer.
“I always dreamed of being a singer. It has been a passion for me since my childhood. There are only a few female singers in Baloch society. Yet, I have always wanted to be one,” says Hani.
“Most women in our society feel restricted by tradition. However, I have never been told by my family to stop pursuing my dream.”
Given her talent and her family’s support, Hani Khan is rising fast. She says she is soon going to join a recording studio. Other Baloch parents, too, should let their daughters pursue their desired careers without imposing any restrictions.
Mehar Baloch from Gwadar is another rising star on the local music scene. She made a start with her first song released in 2017. However, she says, she found some of the criticism and the negativity discouraging. Her family, meanwhile, has been supportive and she says she hopes to make a comeback.
“I always wanted to be a good singer. Fortunately, my family has been supportive. While some people have criticised me, I have found more encouragement and motivation. I am always trying to improve my skills,” she says.
Mehar says while she has her voice, she has not received formal training. “I live in Gwadar. There is a music academy for male singers. Sadly, women are not allowed to attend the classes. I have asked and been told that they cannot make arrangement for us.”
Mehar says she learnt a lot from Ustaad Asghar Hussain who has been visiting her at her home.
“I started recording in 2016 and released five songs. In 2019, I released my second album. I mostly choose poets whose lyrics are meaningful. They include Syed Zahoor Shah Hashmi, Atta Shad and GR Mulla,” she says.
“Several poets have asked me to sing their poems. Some of them have also offered to bear the recording expenses. However, I have had to regret because I believe in singing only lyrics that touch my heart,” says Mehar.
Uzma Haya Baloch, the young artist from Karachi, is yet another Baloch singer. She had a rough start as her parents opposed her choice of a singing career. Fortunately, she received support from her grandfather.
“I have been singing since my childhood. I had a very disappointing start to my career as everyone around me, even my own family, opposed my plans. I used to cry over it. Thankfully, I had the support of my grandfather who always told me not to fear anyone or anything and stood by me,” she says.
Uzma, says, she is committed to promoting Balochi music. “When people refused to sponsor me, I created a YouTube channel and shared my songs. Later on, I was able to release four albums with the support and sponsorship of eminent poets.”