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Pakistani semi classical singer Aqeel Manzoor

AQEEL MANZOOR is a veteran semi classical singer with soothing voice quality. He was born into a musically rich family and inherited love for music from his father, ‘USTAD MANZOOR HUSSIN.’ AQEEL MANZOOR was an adept singer even as a child. He began his career as a radio artist. Later, he started singing Ghazals. His deep knowledge of music helped him render ragas meticulously and in a range of styles like Dhurpa, Thumri or Dadra. His background as a ‘THUMRI’ singer makes him an exceptional ghazal singer. He can easily be termed as the most versatile singer ever.

Speaking to UZMAN ALI, Speakbindas Correspondent in Pakistan, he shares very interesting information in respect of his experience in the field of music.

Aqeel Manzoor performing in a Radio Pakistan Programme

Aqeel Manzoor performing in a Radio Pakistan Programme


Q1: Would you please tell us about your early life and education?

Ans. My name is Aqeel Manzoor. I was born in 1952 at village ‘THATHA LAKHI‘  a small town in District ‘SIALKOT‘ Panjab Pakistan. I spent my childhood at my native village and got primary education there.

Q2:   When did you realize your inclination toward music?

Ans.  I belong to family of musicians and I opened my eyes in a family where music gatherings were  frequent. I was attracted toward music since my childhood. My father USTAD MANZOOR HUSSAIN was a great harmonium player. I used to perform in my family at that time and they all encouraged me. Hence gradually I felt that I should get into this field. When my father listened to me, he felt happy and took me to KARACHI with him as he was settled there at that time.  I got initial training from my father.

Q3: Did you start it by playing Harmonium?

Ans. Yes, I got harmonium training first from my father.

He taught me basics of Harmonium. He has many disciples who are performing worldwide.

Q4:  When and how did you get into singing profession?

Ans. First, I  was invited to perform at the anniversary of USTAD BADHY GHULAM ALI KHAN. I was appreciated by maestros of music that time. Later my series performances continued till my audition in Radio Pakistan Karachi in 1971. My audition was taken by veteran USTAD NAZAR HUSSAIN a living legend of music, USTAD AMRAO BUNDU KHAN, USTAD NEHAL ABDULLAH and  LAL MUHAMMAD IQBAL. I was interviewed in presence of all these celebrities and was approved in B class which was great honor for me because normally new artists were approved in C class. As for as T.V is concerned my first performance on T.V was in a programme titled ‘ NAE FANKAR’ (New artistes). I performed with famous artists including ‘ BILQIS KHANAM’, and ‘ SHAUKAT HUSSAIN’. I also came under the tutelage of USTAD NAZAR HUSSAIN a living legend of music.

Q5: Khan Sahib when did you migrate to LAHORE and what problems did you face there?

Ans.  I had to migrate to LAHORE in 1982 after  sudden death of my father. LAHORE was a  new city for me and a few people were familiar with my name. I performed in Radio Pakistan Lahore  and I remember my first ghazal which I sang there was ‘ wo kon tha jo mujhy gham shanas lagta that‘ written by Maqsood Wazirabadi. It was appreciated by all artistes.

Q6: Where did you meet USTAD SALAMAT ALI KHAN?

Ans. He was my spiritual teacher. I used to listen to him since my childhood. All my  aspirations were fulfilled when in 1984 he took me under his tutelage. I remember it was the time when I was performing in annual anniversary of ‘ USTAD FATEH ALI KHAN’ father of ‘ NUSRAT FATEH ALI KHAN’  renowned singer. He hugged me and loved me a lot.

Q7: Were you also conferred on with any Award?

Ans. Yes I got various awards  including ‘AMIR KHUSRO AWARD in 1984 and GRADUATE AWARD in 1995’. I  was declared best ghazal singer in Pakistan at ‘All Pakistan Music Conference’ held in LAHORE on my unforgettable performance there. The ghazal for which I was awarded was ‘theher jao ke hairani to jaey’ written by a veteran poet ‘ MUHSIN NAQVI’

Aqeel Manzoor performing with Abdul Sattar (Tari Khan) in Tabla

Aqeel Manzoor performing with Abdul Sattar (Tari Khan) in Tabla

Q8: Have you performed out of the country ?

Ans. Yes I performed in Britain, and Middle east so many times and was appreciated there, I met Gujral Singh in England he liked my voice and arranged  shows for me  there. In Doha Qatar my tour was arranged by Jamshed Rizvi and Shehzad Aslam, good promoters of classical music.

Q9: Did you visit to India also?

Ans.  It is a good question because I want to visit India as  there is good space for classical music. I wanted to visit there but unfortunately it was cancelled due to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto (Great Political Leader). We were to perform in four cities in India including LUCKNOW, CHANDI GARH, DELHI and  Ajmer Shareef .

Q10: Khan sahib, no doubt you are one of the best ghazal singers in Pakistan but why could not you get the place you deserve? What is the reason of anonymity?

Ans. Actually this is an era  of media, but media is ignorant of quality work. They believe in quantity. They know of well versed  artistes who have given their lives to  music. Despite all of that I was ignored by the media. And I am unable to understand the policy behind this attitude. Media is promoting the artistes who don’t have suitable vocals for ghazals. I also express here that a true artist always believes in hard work and does not want to lose self respect . I am also one of them. I am always available  whenever called by media. But regret to say I don’t like to be uninvited guest. I believe in quality work and don’t want to use any reference for my entry to media. I believe in GOD.

Q11: What is the reason of decline of classical music in Pakistan?

Ans. This is a wrong conception that classical music has lost its worth. Actually people want to listen to  it but they are not facilitated. I request  media persons to kindly give enough time to classical music so that new artists are encouraged as this is our culture. It is the music which spreads love and peace.

Q12: Some voices which you think are best for classical and semi classical music?

Ans. USTAD SALAMAT ALI KHAN  is my ideal and I think him the best classical singer. As for as semi classical is concerned, I have always appreciated voices of MEHDI HASAN, GHULAM ALI and FARIDA  KHANAM.

Q13: Who can be called a perfect singer in your view?

Ans. Perfection is not possible but I consider anyone a perfect singer who can perform in all kinds of music including  DADRA, THUMRI, KHYAL, and KAFI, but the artists having all these qualities are rare now-a-days.

Q14: Do you have intention to visit  India in future?

Ans. Unfortunately our first visit to India was cancelled  but I want to visit there in future. I want to listen to LATAJI in real. She is a great artist. My teacher used to tell me about her. I like her due to two reasons, firstly, she has  melodious voice, secondly she was very affectionate toward  my teacher, USTAD SALAMAT ALI KHAN.

I want to dedicate some of my ghazals to her in future.

Q15: Any unforgettable performance in your life?

Ans. Once I was honored to be invited by  my teacher USTAD SALAMAT ALI KHAN  at his home in a music evening. It was a family function so his whole family including his sons SHARAFAT ALI KHAN, SHAQKAT ALI KHAN and SAKHAWAT ALI KHAN warmly welcomed me. His other disciples including HUSSAIN BUKHSH GULLU, RIAZ ALI and IMTIAZ ALI, were also invited. The programme continued for the whole night in which all these artists performed. I was asked to perform at the end. It was late night when I started . I saw USTAD Ji  with tears in his eyes and he was praying for me . He  asked me to add title of SHAM CHURASI (a musical family) to my name that was his own family identity. It is the biggest award of my life.

Ustad Salamat Ali Khan taking Aqeel Manzoor under his tutelage, Nusrat Fateh Ali khan also present in picture

Ustad Salamat Ali Khan taking Aqeel Manzoor under his tutelage, Nusrat Fateh Ali khan also present in picture

Q16: If you were another person what would you like to be?

Ans.  I would have wanted to be an artist in any field.

Q17: What are your hobbies and interests?

Ans.  I listen to classical music in leisure. I play with MAZAHAR ABBAS my grand son. He is one year old  and he is my best friend.

Q18: Your favorite colour?

Ans. Navy blue

Q19: Food you prefer to eat most?

Ans. Anything baked delicious, but sweet .

Q20: What is your opinion about love? Did you ever fall in love?

Ans. We all are incomplete without love. I love my profession

Q21: What about your children? Do you train any one for this field?

Ans. I have 5 sons they all are educated and I advice them to sing well but not professionally.

Q22: What advice would you give to young people who want to enter singing?

Ans. Although everyone looks for a short cut but I advice youngsters to keep learning  music which leads us to love, peace and satisfaction, needed in our country. Hard work should be their top priority.

Q23: What would you say about Rock and Jazz music?

Ans. Pop music is actually alien music. It is best practiced in West. It may cause  frustration, anger, and pessimism. It can be appreciated if it conforms to ragas.

Q24: Poets you sing most?

Ans.  I am lucky to compose  poetry of various prominent poets including,  Ahmad Faraz, Ghalib, Nasir Kazmi, Wasi shah, Muhsin Naqvi, Saeed Qais, Nusrat Shakeel Syed, Adam and Ahmad  Nadeem Qasmi.

Q25:  Any massage you would like to convey to people?

Ans. I want to convey my massage to our  leaders to take some measures for the promotion of classical and semi classical music. Senior artists should be awarded  cash prizes. Visits by Musicians should be arranged to and from India.




Posts by SpeakBindas Editorial Team.

17 thoughts on “Pakistani semi classical singer Aqeel Manzoor

  1. Mr Nadeem Zahid says:

    I realy like it it is to much good because it is the honour of Pakisan and Pakistan Observer.

  2. ASHRAF ANSARI says:

    Interview of USTAD AQEEL MAZOOR, a prominent vocalist on ‘speakbindas’ is very informative and
    intresting. However the interview shows a certain neglect and disregard, classical music is subjected to in Pakistan. USTAD AQEEL MANOOR deserves appreciation by the society for his contribution to classical music. His interview is likey to arouse inteest in classical music in Pakistan.


  3. Zahid Gishkori from Islamabad (Pakistan) says:

    I think it is a categorical way of interviewing somebody in an exclusive way and style. Such type of work always has lured the readers to involve themselves in perused study to read some pieces of writings. Hope it will be continued by the writer.

  4. Kashif Choudhary says:

    I have read your interview with USTAD AQEEL MANZOOR a famous classical singer of Pakistan.
    You have done a great job to promot classical music across the borders. USTAD AQEEL MANZOOR is the assest of Pakistani classical music, who have done work with famous classical singers USTAD NUSRAT FATEH ALI KHAN and USTAD BARAY GHULAM ALI KAHN.
    Your style of interviewing is interesting and presentation is also fabolous.

  5. Ejaz Ahmed Siddiqui says:

    Very interesting interview and very informative for those who love Ghazal singers.

  6. Abdinur Mohamed says:

    good work. great determination. I think u have to continue interviewing prominent people in the mainstream society. Ur interview is superb any way.

  7. Liaquat Jadoon says:

    very good and informative interview

  8. Bilal Ishfaq Aamir Sani from Islamabad says:

    Interesting. Despite having least interest in music I enjoyed interview u arranged. U really spared to efforts in interview which greatly inspires readers. Wish u best of luck in future.

  9. Nazakat Hussain says:

    Interesting conversation

  10. Dr.Ghulam Shabir ph-d says:

    I realy like it it is to much good because it is the honour of Pakisan and Pakistan Observer.

  11. Rahat says:

    Well done uzman you have a nice piece of and exclusive work, specially giving us a very clear picture about the fact that real art in pakistan is being considered as a cornor stone. i wish your attempt could result a positive change in pakistan in this particular field
    God bless u

  12. Arshad Dharala says:

    Dear Friends
    They are our legends. Such people did not run behind wealth. Believe me they are a type of SUFEES. We dont know them in their life, but we miss them when we are not able to see them. Please respect them and give them their proper position.
    More over I will like to request all Classical Fankars that please distribute your FUN to people and dont try to take it with you in QABAR. Try to be generous in teaching classical music. I tried my best to find any CD from where I can learn basic practical knowledge of classical music. But I cant succeed in geeting this CD. I know some theory of classical music but I dont know the practical classical music. I f anybody can help me by giving information about a video CD which can be helpful to me. By profession I am Electrical Engineer. thanks fkamad101 at yaho. All classical music lovers are welcome.

  13. Arshad,

    Where are you from?

    You may try contacting Aqeel Manzoor himself if you are residing in Pakistan.

  14. daljit hans says:

    aqeel saab is great artist ….
    allah kare aap bulandion par jayein ..

  15. mazhar iqbal umber says:

    aqeel manzoor is very very great ghzels and kafi khyal thmeri singer that is my music techar

  16. yasir waqas cheema says:

    nice work uzman……………………….

  17. rukhsana says:

    hello doctor check rukhsana

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