Singer from Canada keeps audience spellbound

PESHAWAR: Renowned Pashto singer Ustad Shah Wali Afghan captivated the entertainment-starved residents of the provincial metropolis on Saturday night at a musical show in PTV Peshawar Centre.The senior Afghan singer, based in Canada for the last many years, is widely known for his melodious voice and command over Pashto folk, light, semi-classical and classical ghazal singing. He kept mesmerising a select-gathering for more than six hours with his 10-member orchestra.Ustad Shah Wali migrated to Pakistan from Afghanistan and settled in Jamrud subdivision of Khyber Agency in late 80s. After receiving a due response from Pashto music lovers he shifted his family to Tehkal Bala in Peshawar and began living there at a small rented house.Shaukat Ali, a former producer, introduced him on PTV while Peshawar Radio also began airing his folk songs, which gained widespread popularity among the listeners across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata.During his stay in Pakistan, he received regular music training from various music maestros including Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali and Rafiq Shinwari.

In late 90s financial constraints forced him to migrate to Canada where he set up a music school. He began teaching traditional and classical South Asian music along with Urdu, Persian and Pashto music.“I have 200 students at my art school. They are from different countries. They like traditional music more than any other music genre. Pashto traditional music is matchless and everlasting while pop music has not a bright future,” the sexagenarian singer told media.Ustad Shah Wali is the recipient of 400 awards from various literary and cultural organisations. He has 2,000 audio and video cassettes and CDS to his credit.He came to Peshawar in 2005 after a decade and pledged that he would visit his fans every winter both in Kabul and Peshawar. However, he could not keep his promise last year due to worst law and order situation in Peshawar. His two singer sons, Zar Wali and Mumtaz Wali, are residing in Peshawar.He recorded new and unsung items of Rahman Baba, Abdul Hameed Baba, Khushal Khan Khattak, Hamza Baba, Qalandar Momand, Rahmat Shah Sail, Abaseen Yousafzai, Khatir Afridi, Khyber Afridi and Murad Shinwari.He also sang popular numbers of two Afghan poets — Said Murad Bacha and Malang Jan– which he said he had sung 30 years ago in Afghanistan – Dawan