Sanam Marvi, a crusader of Sufi tradition

Singer uses her voice to spread the Sufi kalam across the globe.

Sher Khan August 23, 2012


After her brilliant renditions on “Coke Studio”, Sanam Marvi has proven that she has a timeless and legendary voice. In a small home on the periphery of Lahore, Marvi is only concerned about one thing – music. In an interview with The Express Tribune, she shares some insight about her music and the message she aims to spread. Marvi sees herself as a crusader of the Sufi tradition, lending a voice to it through her songs.

“My goal is to spread the message of Islam and truth,” says Marvi. Lately, her Sufi-qawwal music has spread far and wide with vocal appearances in Bollywood films such as London Paris New York and The Dirty Picture. She is also routinely invited to Sufi festivals and has toured France and Morocco with plans to go to the United States as well.

Sufi music seems to be entering the mainstream today and the reason for that, Marvi explains, are initiatives such as the popular classical music show “Virsa Heritage Revived” broadcast on PTV and “Coke Studio” which have spread awareness and sparked an interest among the public for Sufi music. Marvi says she holds immense respect for Rohail Hyatt, whose work she feels has been mystically inspired.

She also has great admiration for the host of the “Virsa Heritage” show, the well-known socialite and cultural icon from Lahore, Mian Yousuf Salahuddin. Marvi refers to him as a father figure who she feels has done a lot to promote the Sufi tradition.

“I think the most important thing is spreading the Sufi kalam,” says Marvi, explaining that her father was a Sufi singer. “That is my focus – spreading the kalam to all corners of the world wherever my voice leads me.”

Recent projects

Marvi recently collaborated with Lahore based pop-rock band Symt on “Coke Studio” and tested her vocals in a more modern sounding track, “Koi Labda”.  The single has become one of the most addictive tracks of the season.

“Koi Labda” is an intriguing track as it portrays Marvi in a completely different kind of vocal light and style, accompanying the vocal prowess of Symt’s Haroon Shahid. “I didn’t know I was going to be in the song, so it was kind of a surprise,” says Marvi. “It was very different, Rohail bhai told me to try singing this song and try singing it in a new style and make it seem as my own, so I tried to show that I could do these songs too.”

Speaking more about the importance of her venture, Marvi states, “Modern music is how younger audiences will connect with the Sufi kalam. My son who is quite young is already singing ‘Koi Labda’, and that’s what this is all about – having music for all ages.”

Her more recent project is a collaboration with Mekaal Hasan, which is scheduled to release soon. Hasan is producing a song which will feature Marvi alongside a group of international musicians.

She has also lent her voice to songs in various collaborative Sufi music albums released in India. One such popular track is “Mera Tumba” by which Marvi contributed to the album Teri Rehmatein.

“In India, there was not much interest in Sufi music a while back but that has changed. People there now enjoy this music so much that each song of mine is stuck in their minds,” says Marvi.  “I think that it’s a positive thing that interest is growing,” she concludes optimistically.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2012.


Ihsanullah | 9 years ago | Reply Voice and action are natural gifgs. The sweet voice should be shared. Such local singers should be encouraged.
Parvez | 9 years ago | Reply

Apart from her voice which is the best thing to happen after the great Abida Parveen, this amazing lady is disarmingly humble and that is truly something.

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