Listen to this: Nazia Amin Mohammad’s songs bridge cultures through music - GulfToday

Listen to this: Nazia Amin Mohammad’s songs bridge cultures through music

Nazia Amin Mohammad is based in Dubai.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

A Dubai-based vocalist singing in 33 languages, Nazia Amin Mohammad is a social media star who breaks boundaries and connects people from across the borders of her hometown Karachi to the south Indian State of Kerala. She tunes in to Gulf Today

Why did you take up singing in different languages?

I’m blessed that I have a diversified cultural upbringing.My paternal grandfather was from Gujarat, Kutch, in India, and he migrated to East Africa, where he met and married my (African) grandmother. My late father was born in Tanga, Tanzania, and he later migrated to Pakistan in 1964 and continued his studies there.

He married my mother of Indian origin in India, in 1984. They settled in Pakistan, where my brothers and I were born and raised. My mother’s entire family is of Indian origin and lives in Adilabad, Telangana and Pune, Maharashtra – both in India. My diverse cultural background allowed me to subconsciously draw from music from different parts of the world, including devotional harmonies. These truly were my first steps in music and what has influenced my journey.

How do you train/practice to sing in so many languages?

I simply listen to the songs that touch my heart musically. I feel the song. I tend to gravitate to various genres and pick up the pronunciation and melody. It just comes from the passion and love of music.

Which language did you find most difficult?

Malayalam was the most difficult language initially, but now after singing many songs in that language, I feel that there’s isn’t really a language that is difficult to learn and sing in. It’s being diligent, open to interpretation and the willingness to practice and learn the work that brings results. I think as a music lover, one learns to feel the music and you tend to absorb it internally. This helps me on different levels, and guides me.

Are the melodies and tunes different in each language?

Yes indeed, melodies and music differ in each language. There is however some commonality that links all styles of music.

How many languages do you sing in? In which language do you write out the songs you sing?

I can sing in 33 languages at present, including Malayalam, Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Bangla, Gujarati, Punjabi, Saraiki, Sindhi, Pashto, Hindi, Urdu, English, Burushaski, Shina, Khowar, Tagalog, Kiswahili, Arabic, Balochi, Persian, Singalese and Japanese, besides others. I generally write my songs in English and sometimes in Urdu.

Are you a professional, playback singer? Do you produce albums or only sing at events?

No. Not yet, but one day I hope to be. I sing on various platforms and events, and I have produced cover tracks as well.

Can you give us three highlights of your career?

One of the most recent was my performance with the Firdaus Orchestra with A. R. Rahman sir. I was selected to be part of the Voice Ensemble trained by the acclaimed and respected work of the Firdaus Orchestra. It was an incredible experience to be part of the team and be able to be part of the magic of the Firdaus Orchestra in a magical setting. It was truly a defining experience for me. Another outstanding highlight for me was the performance of ‘Rajahamsame’ at Etisalat Academy in the presence of Malayalam movie legends K. S. Chithra chechi, Mammooty sir, Mohanlal sir, Manju Warrier chechi, Prithviraj, Gopi Sundar sir, and others.

 Firdaus Orchestra creates music.

This was truly an honour and the blessings and respect Chitra chechi gave me, will remain with me forever. (‘Chechi’ means ‘elder sister’ in the Malayalam language). Another profound experience for me was at a press conference with all media present at the Sharjah International Book Fair; I was with M. Jayachandran sir, the iconic Malayalam singer, on stage singing the well-known ‘Kathirunnu Kathirunnu’ (‘Was waiting’) song. This was very special and memorable.

Who are the singers who have influenced you? Why?

So many artists have left such a huge impression on me and continue to move me. It’s hard to pinpoint one, but the combination of so much talent and experience has influenced my musical trajectory and has been the underpinning of my desire to sing in different languages and cultural styles.

Some artists who highlight my experiences are A. R. Rahman sir; K. S. Chithra chechi; Shreya Ghoshal; Lata di and Asha di; Kishore da and Mohammed Rafi sahib; Kavita Krishnamoorthy; Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu; Sonu Nigam; Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan sahib; Rahat Fateh Ali Khan; Madam Noorjahan; Arijit Singh and Mehdi Hassan sahib.

Any ambition as yet unfulfilled as a singer?

There is so much I wish to and will fulfill. I have the ambition to make a difference. Music is borderless, timeless and its beauty guides me. I certainly hope to be able to create an impression on other singers and be able to one day mentor and be considered an inspiration to other singers, like some of the iconic singers mentioned above have been for me.

I love to be able to sing in various languages and perform for different cultures. It removes the barricades from borders; it makes borders that don’t belong to division, but rather inclusion and pluralism. Music can do that effortlessly and I hope to be able to use my voice during my time to influence and be a little part that brings more beauty to the world. 


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