On a Sufi note

  • By Hindu
  • | Wednesday | 13th September, 2017

Sufi music is huge in North India and in Pakistan but that popularity has not percolated down south. I love how how Sufi music allows that deep, connection with the Almighty and the ecstasy that comes with being one-to-one with Him. Shabnam, who recently completed her post-graduate degree in music, has now turned her attention to Sufi music. Music is what keeps singer Shabnam Riyaz going even now, 21 years later, as she gears up for a lecture-demonstration on Sufi music in the city, today. When I was looking around for a research topic, I found that there was not much information available on Sufi music, its origins, its soul.

She hit her first musical high when she was barely 10 years old with the mellifluous Vennilla Chandanakinnam...(Azhakiya Ravanan). Music is what keeps singer Shabnam Riyaz going even now, 21 years later, as she gears up for a lecture-demonstration on Sufi music in the city, today. “Music has been my constant companion from childhood onwards. It was like my headphones were attached to my head and my mood variations changed with the music! Perhaps it was because I was an only child and music was the route to escape loneliness,” says Shabnam.

“Music was very much a part of growing up as well because my mother and my aunts are also keen singers. I think its in my genes as well. My great-grandfather, Vava asan, was a bhagavatar in Kollam, well known for his qawwalis. Family lore goes that he has sung for Maharaja Swathi Thirunal, who in turn is said to have gifted him with gold,” adds the city-based singer, in her pliant voice.

Over the years Shabnam, a trained Carnatic classical artiste, has lent her voice to a handful of other memorable playback numbers and light music tracks, most notably, Shukriya... from the film Niram (she was in class nine then). But Malayali audiences know the young singer better for her appearances in front of the camera, as an anchor of shows such as Saregama (Asianet), Music Buzz Live (Asianet Plus), Swargamalika (Jaihind) and Gandharvasangeetham (Kairali), and as a judge on mappilapattu reality music shows such as Patturumal.

For the moment, though, playback singing and reality shows are not her priorities. Shabnam, who recently completed her post-graduate degree in music, has now turned her attention to Sufi music. It’s what her postgraduate thesis for the University of Kerala was about and its the topic that she will be delivering the lecture-demonstration at her alma mater, the Department of Music. “I’ve always been fascinated by Sufi philosophy for my thoughts are along the same lines. I love how how Sufi music allows that deep, connection with the Almighty and the ecstasy that comes with being one-to-one with Him. When I was looking around for a research topic, I found that there was not much information available on Sufi music, its origins, its soul. Sufi music is huge in North India and in Pakistan but that popularity has not percolated down south. My aim is to popularise it here,” she says. The first step is the lecture-demonstration. “I am also thinking of publishing my thesis,” she says.

The lec-dem is at Department of Music auditorium, next to University Women’s Hostel, Vazhuthacaud. Time: 10.30 a.m.

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