KARACHI: After getting the opportunity to perform with renowned musicians like Matt Sorum, Slash and Macy Gray, singer Shehzad Roy is back with a suitcase of anecdotes. This isn’t really the first time that Roy, the man behind the success of Zindagi Trust, has performed with international stars. He has in the past performed with Canadian musician Bryan Adams during his visit to Pakistan.
“When you jam with such superstars, you learn a lot from them,” says Roy. “I was humbled by Slash’s attitude — he constantly praised my guitarist Imran Akhund for his deliveries.” He points out that apart from their own songs, all of the stars also united to sing Come Together by the Beatles.
He feels international celebrities are fascinated by local culture and are interested in learning about it. “When Bryan Adams visited, he told me that he would write a song every day if he had lived here, for there is something or the other happening,” he recalls.
Roy highlights that while Pakistan has had a rather negative image in the West, there is a paradigm shift. “The crowd’s response was beyond overwhelming. When the American children sang Iqbal’s Lab Pe Aati Aai, there was an emotional outburst from the Pakistani crowd,” shares Roy.
However, the singer feels that more needs to be done for cultural exchange. “India has access to Hollywood. Sadly, we don’t. I believe actual exchange happens through arts and music,” he asserts adding that there is no doubt that music is a great healer. “You enjoy music more when you are pensive. Political songs lead to an awakening of sorts, but I must tell you that music never starts a movement, it only supports it.”
Roy has been involved in education and charity — Zindagi Trust being his most significant project towards the development of education in the country. “When Zindagi Trust hadn’t started I used to help Imran Khan and Adeeb Rizvi. Earlier, during my own school going days, I felt like a misfit in my school and there were a lot of reasons also why I gathered this school project, ‘I am Paid to Learn’,” says Roy.
For quite some time now, Roy has been involved in politics-inspired music but he is thinking of changing that now. “I am facing a lot of pressure on making romantic songs by the Pakistani crowd. They say that I only delve in political songs now — that’s not true. So up next some romantic inspirational songs for my fans,” he says.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2013.