In the rich tapestry of Pakistani music, the Qawwali genre has captivated audiences for centuries. Traditionally, this genre has been dominated by male performers, but by breaking the stereotypes and defying expectations, the Manwa Sisters emerged as the first all-female Qawwali group from Pakistan.
The Manwa Sisters are proud heirs of a rich musical legacy. Their grandfather, Rashid Faridi Qawal, was a renowned artist, who made significant contributions to the development of qawwali music in Pakistan.
The Rise of the Manwa Sisters:
The Manwa Sisters, comprising Saba, Fauzia and Zille Huma, the sisters hail from Lahore, the cultural heart of Pakistan. Their journey began with a deep-rooted passion for Qawwali and an unwavering determination to challenge gender norms within the industry.
Inspired by the legendary voices of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Noor Jahan, the Manwa Sisters embarked on a mission to showcase their talent and preserve the essence of traditional Qawwali while infusing it with their own artistic expressions.
Manwa Sisters released their first video song Allah Janey and since then have been unstoppable. Talking to The Express Tribune, the group’s frontwoman Saba shared: “Indian superstar Dilip Kumar would frequently invite our grand uncle Rasheed Faridi at his place to listen to him. After our grandfather’s death, no one was interested in continuing with music.”
When asked why they named the group Manwa, Saba laughed, saying, “We chose the word Manwa because that (the literal meaning of the word in Urdu) is what we want to do. We want to get our talents recognised. We have been singing at family events and private functions for a while. It wasn’t until three years ago that we finally decided to start our group and take music up as a profession,” she added.
“We thought moving to Lahore would be a great idea. We will get to perform at bigger events and find more career opportunities,” Saba added.
A Trailblazing Musical Journey:
The Manwa Sisters have carved a niche for themselves in the world of Qawwali, captivating audiences both in Pakistan and abroad. Their performances are characterized by mesmerizing harmonies, intricate vocal improvisations, and a deep spiritual connection that resonates with listeners. By embracing their femininity and challenging traditional gender roles, the Manwa Sisters have become beacons of empowerment and inspiration for aspiring female musicians in Pakistan.
Preserving Tradition, Embracing Change:
While staying true to the essence of Qawwali, the Manwa Sisters have also been instrumental in infusing new elements into their music. Their compositions often reflect contemporary themes, addressing social issues and spreading messages of unity, love, and peace. This unique blend of tradition and innovation has garnered them widespread acclaim and a loyal following both within and outside Pakistan.
The Manwa Sisters’ talent has transcended borders, attracting international attention and recognition. They have performed at prestigious music festivals, captivating diverse audiences with their enchanting performances. Their unique contribution to the world of Qawwali has not only won them recognition but has also helped promote Pakistani culture and music on a global platform.
Empowering Future Generations:
In addition to their captivating performances, the Manwa Sisters are dedicated to nurturing and empowering young talents in Pakistan. They conduct workshops and training programs, encouraging aspiring musicians, particularly young women, to pursue their passion for Qawwali. By providing a platform for these budding artists, they are ensuring the preservation and evolution of this beautiful art form for generations to come.
“We have tried to adopt the qawwali style because it comes very naturally to us. It is in our blood,” Saba said. “Girls, in the past, haven’t normally ventured into qawwali singing and we hardly come across a proper female qawwal in the Indian subcontinent,” said Zille Huma. “The challenges are there but we are committed. We have been doing it for three years now and have been appreciated for our work. Wherever we go, we get a very heartening response.”
Kudos to the Manwa sisters for their amazing careers and for motivating other females to consider the Qawwal profession.
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