Friday, February 8, 2013

Zeek Afridi

When Zeek Afridi sang Bibi Sheerinay (‘Sweet Lady’ in Pashto) everyone from children to grown ups joined in the chorus. The song has not just become an anthem of the undying Pashto spirit, but its catchy beat has conquered the entire nation as well. Today, it’s a challenge just to catch up with the singer who has single handedly revived the wavering interest in Pashto music.

From Tirah in Khyber Agency in Fata, the good-looking and soft-spoken Zahid Khan Afridi, popularly known as plain and simple Zeek, has finally arrived on the Pashto music scene it seems. He is rightfully being touted these days as yet another success story from the NWFP. “I wanted to break the monotony prevailing in Pashto music. Music is a passion with me. As most Pakhtun youngsters had almost given up listening to Pashto songs, I wanted to bring them back to their cultural roots. I don’t want to make music my profession as sometimes adopting an art as a profession robs one of talent,” says Zeek.

He always wanted to perform on stage during his school days but being an introvert child, would not dare make a public show of his talent. And so the young Zeek took admission in a music school in Peshawar run by an Afghan music teacher, Ehsan, where he learnt the intricacies of music for the next 16 months. “Ehsan was a Persian speaking music teacher. I went to great lengths to pay his fees, even subletting my hostel room at the university. I also sold my belongings to meet my music expenses. Eventually, I was able to play the harmonium, tabla and rabab. My first songs were drawn from Persian folk songs such as Bia keh birum ba mazaar and Wah wah dilber jan,” he says.

He says there is no dearth of talent but it needs a channel. “The new Pashto pop singers are doing well but learning music is a prerequisite. Selecting good poetry and then tunes should never be under-estimated.” His next album is expected to do more business as his Pakhtun fans have increased manifold even in countries such as Germany, UK, Australia, Afghanistan, South Africa, America and Holland.

“Once you become recognized, you can draw fans from every age group and any culture. I want to raise funds for the Afghan refugee children who have been deprived of their rights to education and shelter for a long time now, and also do something for the earthquake affectees,” says Zeek Afridi with a spark of zeal in his eyes and determination in his voice.

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