The nightingale sings no more
THE year 2022 has been tragic for the performing arts industry as this year saw the tragic loss of Dilip Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and now the passing away of one of our greatest crooners rightfully called Bubul-i-Pakistan.
The melodious silky voice of Nayyara Noor has been silenced forever. This graceful, elegant and simple lady provided us numerous unforgettable songs and patriotic anthems and entertained a generation of music lovers in Pakistan and the world over.
Popular play back singer and one of Pakistan’s musical legend passed away in Karachi after a brief illness.
Her career in Music and the entertainment industry spanned over many decades and she was 71 years of age at the time of her demise.
During her lifetime she had the honor of collecting many national awards such as the pride of performance in 2006 and also the Nigar Award in 1973.
Her melodious and versatile career resulted in numerous iconic immortal songs and she will always be remembered for her memorable rendition of poems by our revolutionary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz and this compilation called Nayyara Sings Faiz was released in 1976.
She contributed many unforgettable patriotic songs and many more for our film industry as a play back singer.
This icon of Pakistani music was born in Guwahati, Assam in India in December 1950 and soon after her family migrated to Pakistan to settle in Karachi.
Her college education started at the prestigious National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore and she put her heart and soul into the art of music.
Her singing abilities and musical talent was first spotted by Professor Asrar Ahmed in Lahore when he heard her performing at the NCA in a gathering of students and teachers and she was then asked to sing for the university’s Radio Pakistan Program.
It was in 1971 that she started her singing career in earnest and debut for Pakistani television serials and then went on to record her voice for films like Gharan 1973 and Tansen she sang Ghazals by famous poets like Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Ghalib and performed duets with legendary singers Mehdi Hassan and Ahmed Rushdi.
Some of her famous ghazals and songs comprise Woh Jo Hum Mein Tum Mein Qarar Tha Tumhein Yaad Ho Keh Na Yaad Ho, Rang Barsaat Nay Bharay Kuchh Tou, Phir Sawan Ruth Ki Pawan Chali Tum Yaad Aye, Aye Ishq Hamay Barbaad Na Kar, Barkha Barsay Chhat Per, Mein Teray Sapnay Deikhuun, Kabhi Hum Bhi Khoobssorat Thay, Jalay Tau Jalao Gori and her most famous, Watan Ki Mitti Gawah Rehna.
She also sang popular film songs. Her famous songs such as Ik Ajnabi Chehray, Mera Pyar Tum Hee Ho, Mausum Tau Deewana Hai, Tera Pyar Bun Kay Aaye, Zara Meri Nabz Dekh Kar, Kuchh Log Mohabbat Ka Sila and Anjanay Naga.
The late singer’s first brush with melody was said to have been inspired by the bhajans of Kanan Devi and Kamla as well as the ghazals and thumris of Begum Akhtar.
Despite having a successful career and being touted as Queen of Melody, Noor never had any formal training.
In a newspaper interview she said it was not her plan to become a singer professionally and it was merely a stroke of luck that she performed in her college and one of her professors encouraged her to pursue a career in music.
She retired from professional singing in 2012 and devoted her life to her duties as a home maker.
She was married to actor Shehyar Zaidi and was the mother of two sons called Naad-e-Ali Zaidi and Jaffar Zaidi both of them are now talented singers and musicians.
During the last ten or twelve years Nayyara Noor was hardly ever seen in public except for some rare appearances at the National Academy For Performing Arts in Karachi where during a rare interview to the media she said “To be honest with you I was never tempted by material things in life since I was a kid” she went on to tell her audience “I never felt shallow or incomplete without the embellishments and makeovers.
I didn’t need anything to make myself look better I was and I am very content with myself” the audience gave her a standing ovation at this point.
This simple graceful lady had a magical voice her aura and life is nothing but exemplary generations of Pakistanis are lucky to have had the joyous experience of listening to her silky melodious voice.
Very few deaths in Pakistan have been so tragic. She was the one to introduce classical music to ordinary Pakistani music lovers and she was always gracefully and hauntingly beautiful.
This queen of melody the bulbul of Pakistan will be missed for ever and ever. Her passing away has brought the curtains down on the life and achievements of one of the last musical icons to represent the shared culture of India and Pakistan.
She leaves behind an enviable legacy and a treasure trove of mellifluous renditions.
—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.