Abida Parveen

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Abida Parveen (folk singer)
Abida Parveen in 2009.png
Parveen performing in Coke Studio in 2010
Background information
Native name عابده پروين
Birth name Abida Parveen
Also known as Queen of Sufi music[1]
Origin Larkana, Sindh, Pakistan
  • Singer
  • musician
  • entrepreneur
  • Vocals
  • harmonium
  • percussions
Years active 1973–Present
Associated acts Coke Studio,
Bulleh Shah, Mobilink, Telenor, Alfllah

Abida Parveen (born 20 Feb 1954),[2] is one of the world's greatest sufi singer, musician, painter and entrepreneur being a business woman from Pakistan, often dubbed as the 'Queen of Sufi music'. She is being made 'Peace Ambassador' by SAARC.

Born and raised in Larkana into a Sindhi Sufi family, she was trained by her father Ghulam Haider who was a famous Singer and Music teacher. She plays Pump organ, Keyboard and Sitar. Parveen started performing in early 1970s and came into global prominence in the 1990s. Since 1993, Parveen has toured globally, performing her first international concert at Buena Park, California.[3] Parveen also features in Pakistan's popular musical show Coke Studio and was a judge on the pan-South Asia contest show Sur Kshetra[4] along side Runa Laila and Asha Bhosle hosted by Ayesha Takia. It also features Atif Aslam and Himesh Reshammiya. She had appeared in various Indian and Pakistani Music reality shows including Pakistan Idol, Chhote Ustaad and STAR Voice of India. Being the Sufi sensation she is among The 500 Most Influential Muslims of the world. With the power to induce hysteria in her audience Parveen is a "Global Mystic Sufi Ambassador".

Parveen is referred as one of the world's greatest mystic singers.[5] She sings mainly ghazals, Thumri, Khyal, Qawwali, Raga (raag), Sufi rock , Classical, Semi-classical music and her forte, Kafis, a solo genre accompanied by percussion and harmonium, using a repertoire of songs by Sufi poets.[6] Parveen sings in Urdu, Sindhi, Saraiki, Punjabi, Arabic and Persian.[7][8][9][10] She had also sung a famous song in Nepali language called "Ukali Orali Haruma" by Nepali singer Tara Devi in a concert in Kathmandu, Nepal which was attended by Govinda.

Parveen is best known for her songs in bloomy loud voice Yaar ko Humne from the album Raqs-e-Bismil and Tere Ishq Nachaya which is a rendition of Bulleh Shah's poetry.[11] Pakistan's second highest civilian award the Hilal-e-Imtiaz has been bestowed upon her by the President of Pakistan for 2012.[12]

Early life[edit]

Parveen was born in mohalla Ali Goharabad in Larkana, Sindh, Pakistan.[7] She received her musical training initially from her father, Ustad Ghulam Haider, whom she refers as Baba Sain and Gawwaya. He had his own musical school where Parveen got her devotional inspiration from. She and her father would often perform at shrines of Sufi Saints. Parveen's talent compelled her father to choose her as his musical heir over his two sons. Growing up, she attended her father's music school, where her foundation in music was laid.[13][14] Later Ustad Salamat Ali Khan of the Sham Chaurasia gharana also taught and nurtured her. Parveen always remembers that she was never forced towards this occupation and she sang her first complete kalam when she was only 3 years old.


Parveen at her concert in Oslo, 2007

Parveen had already begun performing at Dargahs and Urs in the early 1970s, but it was in 1973, on Radio Pakistan, that that she achieved her first real breakthrough with the Sindhi song Tuhinje zulfan jay band kamand widha. In 1977 she was introduced as an official singer on Radio Pakistan. Since then, Parveen has risen to prominence and is now considered one of the finest vocal artists of Pakistan. She has imbued Sufi music with a new identity, marking the beginning of this journey at Sultana Siddiqui's AwazoAndaz in 1980.

Parveen travels internationally, often performing at sold-out venues.[15][16] Her 1988 performance in Chicago was recorded by the Hazrat Amir Khusrau Society of Art and Culture, which issued a LP of her songs. Her 1989 performance in London's Wembley Conference Centre was broadcast on the BBC. Parveen cites her motivation for international travel as being to spread Sufism, peace and the divine message. In doing so, she also promotes Pakistani culture.

In the 1990s Parveen licensed her spiritual ghazals to Bollywood, since her "spiritual brother", Khan, recorded songs for Bollywood. Recently Abida also performed at the Sindh Festival in Thatta.[17]

  • In 2007, Parveen collaborated with Shehzad Roy on a song entitled Zindagi, dedicated to children's social problems .[18]
  • In 2010, Parveen performed at London's prestigious Royal Albert Hall, along with Bollywood playback singer Sonu Nigam.[19]
  • In 2010, Parveen performed at the Asia Society's Sufi Music Festival in New York City.[20][21]
  • In 2010, she performed in Union Square, Manhattan, in first Sufi Music Festival in New York City.
  • Parveen performs annually at the Indian film-maker Muzaffar Ali's Jahan-e-Khusrau event where she is reputed to be the top performer.[22][23]
  • In 2010, she judged the Indo-Pak venture Sur Kshetra TV Show.
  • She performed in Manchester International Festival, 2013 in Bridgewater Hall.
  • Abida also collaborated in Manchester in 2013 with world renowned composer John Tavener for remarkable composition 'Mahamatar' for a Werner Herzog film about pilgrimage.
  • She had performed in Holland festival 2014 in Stopera, Amsterdam.
  • Praveen was the grand performer of Dhaka International Folk Fest, 2015 in Bangladesh where she also received an award.
  • In 2016, she collaborated with Indian Music director duo Salim–Sulaiman and an Orchestra in Toronto(Canada) for special song called "Noor e Illahi" released on Eid.
  • In 2017, on new year eve Abida released 'Mulk e Khuda' a patriotic song featuring natural sites and landscapes of Pakistan.

Coke Studio appearances[edit]

Parveen began performing on the internationally acclaimed Pakistani show Coke Studio in 2010. She sang three songs: "Ramooz-e-Ishq", "Nigah-e-Darwaishaan", and "Soz-e-Ishq" in episodes 1 (Reason), 3 (Conception), and 5 (Realization), respectively of season 3. Parveen said she admired the programme because it offered a Dargahi environment. She commented:[24]

"This project which Rohail Hyatt has started is indeed great and I would like to be a part of it for a long time. The music that comes out of this project reaches both the heart and soul and it always compliments the lyrics without overriding the true message of the kalams. This platform builds on those messages of our Sufi elders."

She was invited back in season 7 in 2014. She sang "Mein Sufi Hoon" with Rais Khan and performed "dost" as a solo. She also performed "Chaap Tilak" (A popular Sufi poem by renowned Sufi poet Amir Khusro) in a duet with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

Abida was also a part of season 9. Her first song alongwith other artists in the season, "Ae Rah Haq K Shaheedo" was dedicated to the war martyrs.[25] After that she sang a duet with Ali Sethi entitled "Aaqa", then solo a entitled "Maula-i-Kull".


  • "Pakistan seems disconnected from the outside. But it is built and running on prayers of our Sufi kings, our pirs. Poor people, rich people – we are all God's servants … I'm lucky. My audience is my God."[26]
  • "My culture – our culture – is rich in spirituality and love."[26]
  • "The songs purify the soul of a human being, the human is so involved that he has left God. The songs bring us near to God, near the Almighty, so that the human soul should be purified and satisfied."[3]

Personal life[edit]

Marriage and Family[edit]

In 1975, Abida married Ghulam Hussain Sheikh, senior producer at Radio Pakistan, who had retired from his job in the 1980s to manage and mentor Parveen's career. After he died of a heart attack on an international flight in the early 2000s, their daughter Maryam took up that role. There is a sense that Parveen's career has taken a more commercial route as a result of it.[16] The couple has two daughters Pereha Ikram and Marium Hussain, and a son Saranj. All three children act as her advisors.[15] Her family understands her need for riyaz ( daily vocal music practice) and its required space to do that practice.[27]

Abida Parveen Gallery[edit]

Parveen is also interested in the arts. She owns the Abida Parveen Gallery which features jewellery, paintings, her music CDs and garments and is run by her daughters.[28]

Clothing style[edit]

Parveen has a distinctive clothing style which she has created herself for ease and comfort. She wears long simple frocks buttoned up to the top covered with a coat. She is always accompanied by an ajrak, a sindhi duppatta, which she claims comes from the dargah (mausoleum) of Sufi saint Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai and her wardrobe is full of it.


  • Parveen has taken Bayyat and became a disciple of Najeeb Sultan, her spiritual master.
  • Parveen suffered a heart attack during a performance in Lahore on 28 November 2010.[29] Angiography and angioplasty were performed on her. She regained her health soon after.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Parveen with the Pushto singer Fazal Malik Akif in Manchester, 1994.


Although Parveen is a highly acclaimed singer, she has never rendered her voice to films. Her pre-recorded songs have been used in films, however. Now she has agreed to lend her voice to films on insistence of her fans and Farooq Mengal. Parveen appears less and less in interviews and television morning shows due to her shy personality. Parveen confesses that she keeps getting offers from Bollywood film-makers namely Subhash Ghai and Yash Chopra but she keeps declining them as she has immersed herself in Sufism and it is time consuming to spread the Divine Message.[36] She even got offers from Shah Rukh Khan for Ra.One and renowned music director A.R.Rehman has offered her some songs, too.[37]


Year Show Role Notes
1980 Awaz-o-Andaz Performer aired on PTV
2009 Nara-e-Mastana Performer Concert sponsored and aired by Hum
2010 Chotte Ustad Guest Judge with Ghulam Ali Eid Celebration
2012 Sur Kshetra TV Show Judge Representing Pakistan in India
2012 Shehr-e-Zaat OST Singer for Yaar ko Humne Pre-recorded from album Raqs-e-Bismil
2012 Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa Special appearance with Runa Laila To promote Sur Kshetra TV Show
2012 1st Hum Awards Performer Sang Naraye Mastana
2014 Pakistan Idol TV Show Guest Judge Grand Finale
2014 Zee Channel TV Singer New Channel
2014 Sama-e-Ishq Performer Concert aired on Hum TV


Year Film Song Notes
2008 Zill-e-Shah Sajjan de Haath Pre-recorded
2013 Ishq Khuda Title Track Pre-recorded
Winner-1st ARY Film Awards for Best Playback Singer
2014 Hijrat Announced Farooq Mengal debutante directorial
2015 Raabta Announced Farooq Mengal Film
2015 Bin Roye Maula Maula



  1. ^ "Abida Parveen: The Queen of Sufi Music". BBC RADIO ASIAN NETWORK. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  2. ^ Iqbal, Nosheen (July 8, 2013). "Abida Parveen: 'I'm not a man or a woman, I'm a vehicle for passion'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  3. ^ a b EPSTEIN, BENJAMIN (1993-09-18). "Cleansing Soul Singer Has Purification Motives : Music: Abida Parveen of Pakistan tries to spread a message of love and induce a state of spiritual ecstasy with her Sufi mystic songs.". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2016-08-13. 
  4. ^ Staff, Images (2016-08-06). "Amjad Sabri, Rahat Fateh, Abida Parveen kick-start Coke Studio 9 with an emotional tribute". Retrieved 2016-08-13. 
  5. ^ Madhumita Dutta (2008). Let's Know Music and Musical Instruments of India. p. 56. ISBN 9781905863297. 
  6. ^ Culshaw, By Peter. "Singer with the knock-out effect". 
  7. ^ a b The Hypnotic Voice of Abida Parveen Archived 23 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine. The Daily Star, 16 July 2004.
  8. ^ Ecstasy In Songs Of the Sufi By Neil Strauss, New York Times, 15 October 1996.
  9. ^ MYSTICAL SINGER'S MUSIC IS THE MESSAGE Archived 5 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine. By Mary Talbot, Daily News, 11 October 1996.
  10. ^ Abida Parveen World music: the basics, by Richard Nidel. Routledge, 2005. ISBN 0-415-96800-3. p.247.
  11. ^ Anna S. King, J. L. Brockington (2005). The Intimate Other: Love Divine in Indic Religions. Orient Blackswan. p. 358. ISBN 9788125028017. 
  12. ^ http://tribune.com.pk/story/525517/recognition-president-zardari-confers-top-civil-awards/, Abida Parveen's Hilal-i-Imtiaz Award (2012), The Express Tribune newspaper, Retrieved 22 Feb 2016
  13. ^ Begum Abida Parveen sings dil se TNN, The Times of India, 17 June 2003.
  14. ^ Mughal. "SINDHI MUSIC". sindhiaudio.blogspot.com. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  15. ^ a b "Abida Parveen". travel-culture.com. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  16. ^ a b Nosheen Iqbal. "Abida Parveen: 'I'm not a man or a woman, I'm a vehicle for passion'". the Guardian. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  17. ^ Mansoor, Hasan (Nov 5, 2016). "Sindh Literature Festival opens with Abida Parveen's performance". Dawn newspaper. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  18. ^ "Shehzad Roy and Abida Parveen Collaborate for a Cause". Sonya Rehman's Archive. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  19. ^ "Sonu Nigam impresses Abida Parveen". www.oneindia.com. 2006-07-08. Retrieved 2017-05-03. 
  20. ^ Pareles, Jon (July 21, 2010). "Songs of the Saints, With Love, From Pakistan". New York Times. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  21. ^ "First Sufi festival in New York from July 20". Dawn newspaper. Jul 9, 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  22. ^ "Abida Parveen: Sufi soul". Express Tribune. IANS. February 29, 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  23. ^ Banon, Tanya (March 5, 2013). "Extraordinary Abida brings Delhi's Sufi festival to a powerful end". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  24. ^ "Abida Parveen - profile, interview & pictures". forumpakistan.com. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  25. ^ Staff, Images (2016-08-06). "Amjad Sabri, Rahat Fateh, Abida Parveen kick-start Coke Studio 9 with an emotional tribute". Retrieved 2016-08-07. 
  26. ^ a b Iqbal, Nosheen (2013-07-08). "Abida Parveen: 'I'm not a man or a woman, I'm a vehicle for passion'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-08-13. 
  27. ^ "An Exclusive Interview with Abida Parveen- The Reigning Queen of Sufi Music". Fuchsia. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  28. ^ "A store that's jewellery will 'set it apart'". tribune.com.pk. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  29. ^ "Abida Parveen suffers heart attack during performance". Express Tribune. November 28, 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  30. ^ http://infopak.gov.pk/AbidaParveen.aspx
  31. ^ http://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/abida-parveen-6766.php
  32. ^ http://www.baaghi.tv/abida-parveen-the-sufi-singer/
  33. ^ "Recognition: President Zardari confers top civil awards". tribune.com.pk. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  34. ^ "India honours Abida Parveen with life time achievement award". dawn.com. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  35. ^ http://wonderwomenpakistan.com/award-recipients?more=2#
  36. ^ "Bollywood can wait: Abida Parveen (Interview)". 
  37. ^ "Abida Parveen and Runa Laila to spread love in India - Times of India". 

External links[edit]