[Annual Issue] “2011: The year of intrigue” > Music

New acts that emerged from limited fame onto the national stage in 2011

> NORTH’S BEST-KEPT SECRET
ISMAIL & JUNAID

Junaid Javed and Ismail Khan - photo by Madeeha Syed

With over 800,000 hits on YouTube and an ever-growing fan base, it’s safe to say that Ismail and Junaid are probably at the moment one of the biggest music acts in the country – and most of the country (minus the province they hail from), till recently, was unaware of them.

Their debut single, Qarar (Peace), was recently awarded the title of the second best Pashto song after Bibi Shireen by the Pashto Cultural Society. Several local artistes have released their own covers of the song and the band enjoys a considerable fan base in neighbouring Afghanistan, Pashtun communities in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Their second single, Ranra (Light), also became a hit soon after its release solidifying the band’s place on the pop music scene in Pakistan.

The two unassuming college boys, Ismail Khan and Junaid Javed, who formed the band a couple of years ago, never imagined that the response that their music would garner when they were recording it. They are currently in the process of working on an Urdu single (working title: Raat), a new age Sufi song based on the poetry of Rehman Baba and an attan (traditional Pashto folk music) which will incorporate all of the 15 dialects of Pashto.

> A NEW DIVA IS BORN
MEESHA SHAFI

Meesha Shafi - photo by Fayyaz Ahmed

She is Pakistan’s example of a triple threat: Meesha Shafi is a successful model, a popular singer and has now added acting to forte. As the former lead singer for the well-known percussion based band, Overload, she the nation tapping their feet and singing along to her rendition of Alif Allah Chambay di Booti (in collaboration with Arif Lohar) in the third season of the music show, Coke Studio. She was undoubtedly one of the biggest stars to come out from that season.

As if that wasn’t enough, she has recently bagged a role in a film by Hollywood director, Mira Nair. Nair is currently working on an adaptation of Lahore-based author, Mohsin Hamid’s book, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Meesha Shafi plays the role of the protagonist’s sister and will be starring in the film alongside well-known names such as Kiefer Sutherland, Kate Hudson, Riz Ahmed, Om Puri and Shabana Azmi.

> ARMED AND FABULOUS WITH THE SUGARCANE OF LOVE
SYMT

Farhan Ali, Haroon Shahid and Hassan Omar of Symt

Symt‘s most well known single is a cover of Naseebo Lal’s famous song, Pyar di Ganderi. This Lahore-based band, composed of Haroon Shahid, Hassan Omar and Farhan, is not only entertaining where music is concerned, but they also look good doing it!

Having been on the music scene for several years now, their growth has been slow and steady. And this year, they were one of the featured bands performing at the Lux Style Awards ceremony. They have already bagged an endorsement by the international clothing brand, Levi’s and have also been a part of their Levi’s unplugged sessions music project. One of their other popular singles includes an original song called Zamana, which was incidentally their first official recorded release.

> PASHTO GOES POP!
YASIR & JAWAD 

Jawad Iqbal, Wali Aurakzai and Yasir Khan

More popular outside of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa than they are in the province they call home, Yasir and Jawad (and Wali) broke on to the Pakistani mainstream music scene by being featured on the music reality show, Uth Records, earlier this year.

Hailing from North Waziristan, Orakzai Agency and Mardan, they released their debut single, titled Reidi Gul on the show. The song was based on the poetry of one of Pashto literature’s most popular poets, Khan Abdul Ghani Khan, introducing his work to those unfamiliar with the language. The band is currently working on their debut album with another Peshawar-based musician, video director and music producer, Zeeshan Parwez.

Bilal Khan

> THE DARK BROODING BLUES
BILAL KHAN

He had the nation crooning to his debut single, Bachana, for a very long time before making an appearance on the music show, Coke Studio, earlier this year. He has over a 150,000 fans on the social networking website, Facebook, and the number of his fans continues to increase.

Bilal Khan released his second single, Tu Kya Hua, on Coke Studio thereby solidifying his brand of brooding, bluesy as his very own signature. He released his debut album, titled Umeed, recently and considers the Pakistani bands Junoon and Noori as the kind of music he grew up listening to – though his own music happens to be of a very different flavour.

Bilal Khan continues to enjoy a cult audience and performs regularly in schools and colleges across the country.
Newspaper view: [click to view larger image]

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