13-year-old percussionist who stole hearts at Lahooti Melo

The child prodigy not only owned his stage but also earned the respect of senior musicians

Ather Ahmad February 25, 2020

JAMSHORO: This year's Lahooti Melo with all it's issues was definitely a notch above all the previous editions. With respect to all the musical performances that took place on the main stage, musicians and audiences alike agreed that the sound was more wholesome this year around.

In comparison, the performances that took place on the smaller stages fell a bit short albeit mainly due to messy sound arrangements, as is common with festivals of such a scale. That being said, there were a few diamonds in the rough, when it came to side stages.

One such gem was 13-year-old percussion player Sufiyan Ahmad who managed to captivate audiences and gain the respect of veteran performers on the card, against all odds.

"I started playing four to five months ago," a shy Sufiyan told The Express Tribune, whose chops on the darbuka could easily lead the casual observer to mistake him for someone who has been doing it for a while. For someone who somewhat became the breakout star at the event, Sufyan seemed very non-chalant. When asked what drew him to the instrument, Sufyan casually responded by saying" I just like playing it and want to be good at it."

Sufiyan is part of Hyderabad based band named Itehad alongside his uncle Safdar Abbas the vocalist and many others. According to Safdar, the young prodigy's inclusion in the band was purely by chance. "When the band used to jam together he used to casually sit there and observe us. Then one day he came upto me expressed his desire to play. I told him to do so following which he on his own starting practicing the instrument" said Safdar.

"After he week of practicing one day he started playing in our jam and he was in perfect rhythm. From that point on he is a part of the band", said Safdar.

"I just used to watch them in the studio every other day and I became interested in playing the Darbuka", Sufiyan chimed in.

Itehad band gotta chance to play twice at the event. The second time was at a stage set up by Lahore based independant music platform Re-Arts. Here the young percussion player got exposed to a relatively larger audience and also got a chance to perform with one of the main acts, Zoha Zuberi.

"We had a band from Hyderabad called Itehad. It was a group of few young lads. The most suprising thing about the band was this one Darbuka player. He was probably the youngest player I've seen. And just seeing his sheer of virtuosity and his command over the instrument just completely blew me away.Even though Sufiyan and Zoha were performing for the first time, he was able to grasp the rhythm really quickly, " said Ahmed Butt, musician and managing director of Re-Arts.

"He was so comfortable being on stage playing infront of so many people. We had a few other diverse set of acts at the Re-Arts stage but Sufiyan still managed to standout. After the performance i couldn't help my self and I asked him if he would be willing to play on the main stage with Zoha Zuberi. When I saw him play , the only thing I could think of was that this boy deserved a bigger stage. If he is given the right resources he can do wonders.  Ever since then Iam in touch with Sufiyan and his ustaad and we are actively working to have him collaborate with our artists particularly the electronic music duo Fake Shamans," Butt said.

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