Pashto music: Bacha steps forward

Published: June 14, 2012

The Pashto singer discusses the release of his new album and the problems looming over K-P.

The Pashto singer discusses the release of his new album and the problems looming over K-P. The Pashto singer discusses the release of his new album and the problems looming over K-P. DESIGN: SAMRA AAMIR
KARACHI: 

After a hiatus of four years, Pashto singer Haroon Bacha is finally back on the Pashto music scene with his new album titled Darman.

Forty-year-old Bacha, who hails from the district of Swabi, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, was driven away by extremist militants who believed that singing was against the teachings of Islam. Bacha, however, didn’t abandon his creative roots and instead moved to the US where he started hosting a cultural affair programme on Radio Mashaal, a Pashto service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Additionally, he kept his passion for music burning by performing for the Pashto community in the US at small gatherings. “We arrange parties in America and friends from various states come to attend them,” Bacha tells The Express Tribune. He adds, “Sadly, people who know how to play Pashto tunes are scattered in different states, so attendance is not as high as it used to be in K-P.”

Even though Bacha is happy with the small steps he is taking to promote Pashto music in America via his radio programmes, he admits that he would have done much more if he were in K-P.

The singer says that he misses home and he yearns for  cultural shows  back home — which have resumed after being halted for a few years by infuriated conservative groups who had banned them. “I was deeply affected when I couldn’t attend a cultural event in my country, but it makes me happy to talk about those events on my programme,” says Bacha.

He blames the militancy in the northern region on a group that he believes conspired to tarnish the image of Pashtuns and Pashto culture and music. “They were trying to make us look like beasts to the world. No one was ready to believe that we actually wanted peace and prosperity in our country.”

Bacha, who is known for revamping Pashto tappay (a genre of Pashto poetry), longs to go home and make music without fearing of a backlash. From the darker days when militants torched CD and cassette shops and forced the shop owners into other trades, Bacha says the situation has improved. “I’m happy that the situation is better now.”

It’s comeback time

Even though Bacha kick-started his career with his album Da Rangoono Makhaam, it was his second album, Ghunchakoona — featuring his revolutionary tappay — which raised him to the status of an icon of the Pashto music industry. His discography includes albums like Walwalay, Tamashay, Nazar Maat, and Yar Sha Kana, the last album he released after which he fled to America.

Bacha’s most recent venture, Darman, was conceptualised in the US and recorded in Peshawar in one week’s time. “I can’t record my albums in America because there aren’t many musicians here who can make Pashto tunes. The only two options I had were to either send my vocals to Peshawar or go myself to record them.”

When inquired about the nature of his album that was released in April this year, the singer adds, “The album features songs and folk tappay that depict the state of my country. The lyrics of the songs also convey messages of love, peace and suggest benign solutions to our ongoing problems.”

The album includes lyrics penned by Ajmal Khattak, Rahmat Shah Sayel, Ali Akbar Sial, Amjad Shahzad and Israr Atal.

A song from Bacha’s album Darman

Song Title

“Ay Zama Da Meeny Baada”

Lyrics

Renowned Pashto poet Ajmal Khattak

“Ay zama da meeany baada

Da larghon Pukhtun la yaada

Da Ghairat la dak Hewada

Rasha Rasha

Rasha ma da zan sara wakhla”

Translation

O! The breeze of my love

From the memories of ancient Pakthuns

From the land of honor

Come, Come

Come and take me with you

Published In The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2012.

Reader Comments (9)

  • MI Khan
    Jun 14, 2012 - 9:10PM

    An amazing singer and a great asset to Pukhtoons!

    Recommend

  • ather khan
    Jun 14, 2012 - 9:51PM

    we pahktuns need more people like him to make our image clear. we are the victims of terrorism but all blames are put on us. give us chance to get educated and we will show that we are the best in the world. we love our country pakistan very much, and we expect that this country will show no discrimination among its public.Recommend

  • S. Khan
    Jun 14, 2012 - 11:59PM

    I remember when I was a child I had bought a small audio cassette player the first Pashto music cassette which I bought was of Haroon Bacha’s Ghunchakoona. I liked it very much. I used to keep it hidden from my family as I had no permission to have music player or listen songs. From that day I am regular listener of Haroon Bacha. I liked his tappay, which were then copied by every new comer and made names for themselves. Rahim Shah got popularity when he sung Urdu translation of Haroon Bacha’s tappay. Bacha brought revolution in Pashto music. Bravo Bacha and thank you ET and Sohail saab for highlighting him.

    Recommend

  • Hafeez
    Jun 15, 2012 - 1:04AM

    Will someone please tell, which State of USA is he living in? Where does he hold his programs? Thanks

    Recommend

  • Schazad
    Jun 15, 2012 - 8:27PM

    @Hafeez, he is in virginia….
    I am his biggest fan. Love his rendition of pukhto music. He has a very distinct voice personality. I hope Coke Studio gets him in….

    Recommend

  • Jun 15, 2012 - 10:55PM

    The best singer in the history of Pakhtunkhwa Music, A very loving, caring, humble and down to earth person when ever I met him in my village Swabi.

    Recommend

  • Jun 16, 2012 - 1:15PM

    Der Kha, Sohail khattak sb
    It is indeed great story. Haroon Baacha is an asset of Pashtun society and still, a popular singer in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Recommend

  • Nasrat
    Jun 17, 2012 - 4:49PM

    Haroon is a true legendary Pakhtun singer. He is great.

    Recommend

  • Ibrar
    Jun 18, 2012 - 12:57AM

    @Schzad and Hafeez, Haroon Lala is in Washington DC. I still have his 2nd volume in my car and love to listen it everyday. If someone whats to listen poetry of great poets then he should listen Sardar Ali Takkar and Haroon Bacha and of-course the legend Nashnas. thanks for putting the report.Recommend

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