Friday night in Lahore saw the best in the music scene come under one roof for the Shaan-e-Pakistan Music Achievement (Sepma) awards.
While a plethora of young musicians, including Sounds of Kolachi, Xarb and KaraKoram, were seen in the vicinity, it was the Poor Rich Boy who not only won an award but a million hearts as well.
The band’s front-man Umer Khan, popularly known as Umer Duck, went on stage to collect the award for Best Indie Track and that’s when a number of heads were turned and eyebrows raised.
Before the guests could even hand over the award to him, Khan started reading out a speech which was as relevant to Pakistan as it was shocking for the audience.
“I have had the privilege to pursue my passion and through that, express myself in a country where a majority are deprived of basic necessities and human rights,” he started in Urdu. “This is why our songs are never about ayaashi, daulat or pointless fame but about our social disparity and contradictions. I feel every Pakistani should make it a point to remember the unheard voices of our society in the tiniest of our celebrations.”
Umer further gave the example of missing persons in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Gilgit-Baltistan and the countless women and transgender people who continue to suffer at the hands of society.
“We should also remember the youngsters who are promised a bright future but their past and present is dark because of our mistakes. I wish one day, Pakistan becomes a country where creative expression is no longer a privilege shared by a particular class of the society.”
The musician's speech did manage to shake up the audience that had been enjoying music and celebrations. Khan not only used the platform to address pressing issues but also made a statement that artists, as major stakeholders of society’s intellectual and cultural progress, should speak about such matters.
This did remind us Ahsan Khan’s acceptance speech at the Lux Style Awards where he dedicated his victory to Mashal Khan. It’s really cool and healthy to see dissenting voices on mainstream avenues.
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