Karachi: Coke Studio will be releasing the sixth and final episode of Season 12 on 29thNovember 2019, featuring featuring Bo Giyam by Kashif Din and Nimra Rafiq, Mundiya by Ali Sethi and Quratulain Balouch, Aaye Kuch Abr by Atif Aslam, and Tiri Pawanda by Harsakhiyan.
Newcomer Kashif Din has traveled all the way to Coke Studio from Hunza with Bo Giyam, an original composition with Burushaski lyrics written by Nas Nafees, a poet who also hails from the same valley. Fusing the folk music of Hunza with contemporary colors, Bo Giyam is a song of heartbreak and disappointment. Its lyrics express the speaker’s complaint, wrapping his grief in images of nature: seeds that they have sowed, only to watch them ripen in someone else’s garden, fruits that have fallen in another’s home, the desolation of mountains. Joining Kashif on stage is Coke Studio family member and backing vocalist Nimra Rafiq, who adds Urdu lyrics to the composition, echoing the yearning that is being expressed in the song’s Burushaski lyrics. Fusing the traditional with the contemporary, Burushaski with Urdu, Bo Giyam creates a space that invites listener to feel the gentle longing of its poet’s sorrow.
“When the world came into existence, so did music. There is music in everything. There is a scale in every voice. Everything moves to a timing. Our whole lives move to a beat and even the heart beats to a specific time. As far as I’m concerned, the entire world is music.” said Kashif Din.
“It feels nice to have reached this stage and to look back and think of the struggles I had faced as a musician. It doesn’t feel bad; it feels like it was worth it.” said Nimra Rafiq.
Rediscovering coy banter between romantic partners from the film Mukhra, 40 years later Ali Sethi and Quratulain Balouch take the stage with the festive Mundiya. Originally titled Mundiya Dupatta Chadd Mera, the song was sung by the iconic Madam Noor Jahan and Nadeem Baig and composed by Wajahat Attre. The lyrics tell the story of two strong-willed characters in a flirtatious back and forth conversation with each other. Enamored by the original, Ali heard something in Quratulain’s voice, a “khanak” (trill) that reminded him of Madam Noor Jehan’s bold, uninhibited, “Mundiyaaaa,” from the original song. What began as a chance studio jam between the artists turned into the genesis of Coke Studio’s Mundiya. The character’s conversation is complemented by the contrasting vocal tones of the two artists at play — Quratulain’s open, uninhibited vocals juxtaposed next to Ali’s more controlled, calculated vocal movements exhibit the ebb and flow of the song. To accentuate the energy between the characters, the song is playful and cheeky, with flamenco elements that create a colorful soundscape.
“Music has enabled me to feel. It has simplified emotions for me. It has helped me understand life.”said Quratulain Balouch.
Aaye Kuch Abr:
Answering the call of an artist’s search for personal expression, this season, Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry is incarnated in the voice of Atif Aslam with Aaye Kuch Abr. Originally performed by the Mehdi Hassan Khan, the ghazal speaks of solitude, the sorrow of missing one’s love, and finding personal solace in life’s little pleasures. For Atif, this was a personal undertaking as an artist as he connected to the words, finding beauty in the lyrics and inspiration in Mehdi Hassan’s original. A personal reflection of Faiz’s inner state during his imprisonment in Hyderabad Jail, the song’s poetic depth provides a space for one to find the common humanity in their difficult emotions. A challenge that Atif did not shy from, the singer creates this rendition not with the intention to replicate what Mehdi Hassan accomplished with the piece, but to cherish its beauty and carry its tradition forward into the world. “Before you even touch a piece like this,” he acknowledges, “you think twice. But the work of legends is not meant to be feared.”With the respect that is due to the artists of bygone eras, Atif Aslam wants to share with today’s generations the artistic wealth and legacy that these artists have brought to the world.
Verses written by Shaikh Ayaz find expression in the voices of Harsakhiyan, a trio of sisters hailing from Lahore, as they sing Tiri Pawanda on this season of Coke Studio. While the poetry of the song is contemporary, it is set to a musical arrangement that was composed by the Sufi saint Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, which has been handed down through history in his collection of work, the Shah Jo Risalo. Tiri Pawanda bemoans separation, but is laced with a deep sense of hope, painting a picture of nature’s ever-changing cycles and seasons — as seasons change and colors return to flowers, and birds return from their migrations, the poet hopes to meet their beloved once more. Joined together with a stanza that is addressed as a complaint to an absentee lover, Tiri Pawanda is presented in an ambient, spacey soundscape that invites audiences to ponder upon the meanings woven into its verses.
“Music is a part of nature and we are an instrument of nature. The voice that comes out of you is nature, it is otherworldly, how can you have a right over it? Your voice belongs to nature and God. You can thank Him for it but you can’t claim it.” said Harsakhiyan.
ABOUT KASHIF DIN:
Traveling to the Coke Studio set all the way from Hunza is 19-year-old Kashif Din, a mostly self-taught artist who is driven by his passion and love for music. Kashif learnt the craft by observing musicians and ustads around him, vocally training with Ustad Irfan and furthering his classical training with Niaz Hamzai in his hometown. After being encouraged by his friends and classmates, who were fans of his voice, Kashif began singing in 2013 and picked up the guitar 3 years later. Soon after, he began teaching himself music production on a broken laptop given to him by his cousin, using computer software to learn about rhythm and harmony, through application. Also, Kashif enjoys writing the lyrics to his music and is currently focusing on experimenting within the folk music genre while he completes his undergraduate studies at Government College Lahore. Kashif’s aim is to find new and unique ways to fuse western and eastern rhythms together, and to incorporate western drums, bass, chords, and progressions into the music of his region.
ABOUT NIMRA RAFIQ:
On this season of Coke Studio, Nimra Rafiq makes her journey from backing vocalist to a featuring artist. Her soprano voice is all set to soar on the platform’s mainstage in a piece that highlights the skill of her musical ability. Nimra first entered the music scene with a televised music competition at the young age of fourteen. Despite being eliminated before the competition’s final round, Nimra showed a spark of determination and continued to pursue singing. She eventually performed a tribute to Alamgir on national television, which marked her first solo performance. Through many struggles and hurdles, characteristic of the uncertainties that come with being a young musician in Pakistan, Nimra persevered and thrived. By the time she turned eighteen, she was already performing as a solo live act, while working as a dubbing artist for Turkish drama serials for various channels.
Nimra’s musical journey reached new heights when she joined the musical group Sounds of Kolachi as a vocalist in 2015, and received recognition for her vocal range. Soon after, Nimra joined Coke Studio’s family in Season 9 as a backing vocalist.
ABOUT ALI SETHI:
Crooning his way back to Coke Studio’s stage for his fifth performance on the platform, Ali Sethi returns this year with his unique flavor of classical tones and melodies, a mix between the nostalgic and contemporary. Ali made his debut in 2013, by lending his vocal chops to the original soundtrack of Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Following this, he went on to feature as a singer in a Pakistani production for the first time, with Sarmad Khoosat’s Manto. Trained in Eastern Classical music under the tutelage of Ustaad Naseeruddin Saami, Ali is credited for being a bridge to classical music for today’s youth, making the genre relevant to younger audiences. His songs blend classical poetry with original lyrics and are contextually laden with layers of meaning. Ali has had several notable performances this year with The New York Times describing his performance at Carnegie Hall as having “both rawness and plaintive delicacy.” Ali is currently working on his debut album, a record that fuses the fundamentals of his musical learning with more contemporary sounds.
ABOUT QURATULAIN BALOUCH:
Returning to Coke Studio for the fifth time are the powerhouse vocals of Quratulain Balouch, who lends her voice to the platform’s ongoing journey of experimentation and exploration. A seasoned artist, Quratulain was discovered when her cover of Reshma Jee’s Akhiyan Nu Rehn De went viral in 2011, which led to her Coke Studio collaboration with the band, Jal. Not long after, she saw massive success with her track, Wo Humsafar Tha, which was sung for the original soundtrack of Humsafar. Early on in her career, Quratulain won Pakistan’s Youngest Achievement Award UK and Europe in Britain, and embarked upon her first world tour in 2011. Considered as an artist with a diverse range of talent, Quratulain’s unique vocal ability has crossed genres with ease – from covers of old classical tunes to the Football World Cup song she featured in with Jason Derulo in 2018. Her peers and critics regard her as a natural talent who has never required training.
An accident in 2013 led doctors to believe she would never be able to sing again but the artist bounced back, proving herself as a force to be reckoned with, willing her recovery into a career that is here to stay.
ABOUT ATIF ASLAM:
This season, Atif Aslam brings an experimentation of ambient and introspective discovery to the canvas of Coke Studio; once again exploring the melodies hidden in his voice and showcasing his versatility with genres that are new to his repertoire. For Atif, it all began with a song which pulled him under the spotlight– Aadat. The song created the trajectory that would soon become his career.
Atif’s musical journey began when he first started to experiment with his voice while he was alone in his family home in Lahore. This led to a pursuit of his craft that presented itself in college activities. Since then, Atif’s name has been considered as the embodiment of a unique brand of vocal prowess. With international tours constantly lined up, 3 albums to his name, multiple Bollywood singles, several international collaborations and a fan reach that spans across the globe, Atif has solidified his place as one of the predominant voices in the subcontinent today.
Lending their vocals to the Coke Studio canvas this season is the classically trained trio of sisters, Harsakhiyan. Comprising of Zainub Jawwad, Saleema J Khawaja, and Ismet Jawwad, the group has been trained by Ustad Riaz Ali Qadri. Initially called Sakhiyan, the sisters changed their name after moving to Harsukh, a cultural centre for art education that also houses the Jawwad family. Today, they are known as Harsakhiyan, or ‘friends to everyone’. The trio is versed in khyal gaiki, the rababi tradition, thumris and ghazals. Zainub has sung original soundtracks for television while Ismet, the youngest sister, is a teacher by profession, and Saleema a practicing lawyer. As an ensemble, Harsakhiyan sings with minimal instruments, depending heavily on vocals. The band continues to grow, hoping to collaborate with musicians from different genres and finding opportunities to record their original material.