With a sparkling voice that strikes a chord in every listener’s heart and with the ability to bring life to every tune, these Kashmir singers have won the hearts of millions of music lovers worldwide. While some have become YouTube sensations, some have shot to fame through local music events. On the other hand, some have mesmerized people with their soothing voices for decades! No matter the reason for their popularity, these five Kashmiri singers signify the valley’s potential in music and singing.
5 Popular Kashmiri Singers
From stalwarts to youngsters, we’ll talk about five artists who’ve helped Kashmir strengthen its position on the global music map. Let’s get started then!
1. Pandit Bhajan Sopori
Born in Srinagar in a Sufiana Gharana family of musicians of Kashmir, Pandit Sopori received guidance from his father, Shambhoo Nath, and grandfather, S.C. Sopori. Sopori has been performing for almost seven decades. He is considered a cultural link between J&K and the rest of India. Pandit Sopori has composed over 4,000 songs altogether in languages including Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, etc.
He is the recipient of several prestigious awards such as the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1992, Padma Shri in 2004, Delhi Ratan Award, Shradha Samman, and others.
2. Nirja Pandit
Another shining singing star from the valley, Nirja Pandit, started her career in 1981 with All India Radio. This exceptionally talented singer from Kashmir was trained by Pandit Shambhoo Nath Sopori in classical music. She also holds a postgraduate degree in music from Chandigarh University.
Nirja Pandit has performed in several shows worldwide. She has also sung for various serials such as Chahat Aur Nafrat, Tere Mere Sapne, Gul Gulshan Gulfam, and Mast Hai Zindagi. Cheshma Bu Wondai, based on Kashmiri folk music, was Nirja’s first-ever solo album. Her other successful albums include Kashmiri Club Mix, Yaadvotur, and Patram Pushpam.
3. Waqar Khan
26-year-old Waqar Khan is among the new breed of Kashmiri singers. The young singer from the valley sings in various languages, including Urdu, Kashmiri, Pahadi, and Punjabi.
Waqar is known for his fantastic voice and command over the notes and expressions of Urdu ghazals. These attributes have contributed to his popularity in and outside Kashmir. One of his songs in the Pahari language, Tussi Nikka Hasde Ho, is popular in the Indian and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
On the one hand, while performing across various parts of India, Waqar has represented India internationally as well. One such event was the international music workshop, Ethno India, held in 2015, where Waqar represented India.
He has received praise and applause from various veteran musicians. One of them is Lakhwinder Wadali, who praised his talent when he first listened to a qawwali sung by Waqar, originally sung by the Wadali brothers.
Waqar has millions of likes and views on YouTube. He is a gold medalist graduate from Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University (BGSBU), Rajouri. Additionally, he also holds a postgraduate degree in Political Science.
4. Nargis Khatoon
Another exceptional singer, 22-year-old Nargis Khatoon, is an emerging star from the valley. Nargis hails from the Alamgari Bazar in Srinagar. She aspires to become a Bollywood singer. Her voice and singing talent have been appreciated by many artists such as Ali Sethi and Ali Zafar from Pakistan. Such applause has helped boost the young girl’s confidence and helped her take her talent beyond India.
However, Nargis’s singing journey wasn’t a fairy tale. She has taken a lot of criticism in the past concerning her voice, which many consider inappropriate, husky, and scratchy. But that did not deter the young lady from singing. During the lockdown last year, Nargis leveraged the social media space to upload videos that showcased her singing talent and thus became a popular name across the valley. Nargis is also a guitar player.
One of Nargis’s unique aspects is that whenever she sings outside Kashmir, she begins her event with a Kashmiri song. That’s because she loves Kashmiri songs from the bottom of her heart.
5. Ishfaq Kawa
A farmer’s son from the Bandipora area of Kashmir, Kawa has come a long way in his life. Although blessed with a pleasant voice since childhood, Ishfaq decided to give singing a try only in 2015 when he received a standing ovation for his singing talent while working as a waiter in Hyderabad.
So far, Kawa’s contribution includes recreating many popular Hindi songs in Kashmiri and recreating folk songs. He is one of the very few aspiring artists from Kashmir who’ve recreated folk songs using new-age methods and contemporary instruments. The young artist has performed in events in various cities, including Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, and Delhi.
His songs have millions of views on social media platforms. A few of his famous songs include Asaw Gindaw, Bala Yara Hoo, and Nund Boun. Ishfaq started singing in 2015, and he released his first album in 2017. The album met with a tremendous response and helped him achieve fame as a singer.
According to him, Kashmir’s youth usually listen to Punjabi and Hindi songs. However, lately, as many young singers have started using modern music with folk songs, there has been a surge in the number of Kashmiri folk songs listeners.
So, that was about the list of five famous Kashmiri songs. We hope you enjoyed reading about them and hope to see more of such singing talent emerging from the valley in the years to come.