Habib Wali Mohammad
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|Habib Wali Mohammad|
|Native name||حبیب ولی محمد|
|Born||1921 (age 92–93)|
During his childhood Habib Wali Mohammad often listened to Qawwali music. But due to economic reasons, he gave priority to academics.
He received his MBA from Syracuse University, New York in 1947, and then lived in Bombay for about 10 years before moving to Pakistan. His brother Ashraf W. Tabani was governor of the province of Sindh around 1988.
As a youth, Habib Wali received classical music lessons from Ustad Latafath Husain, nephew of Ustad Fayyaz Khan. In college, he became active in the musical functions of Ismail Yusuf College, gaining the nickname ‘Taan sain’. He completed a bachelor's degree in Bombay.
In 1941, Habib Wali was awarded first prize in a Bombay music competition with 1200 contestants, including the singer Mukesh Chand Mathur. His winning performance was singing the ghazal of the last Moghul Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, Lagta Nahin Hai Jee Mera Ujray Diyar Mein. 
Encouraged by this honor, at a young age, he took more interest in ghazal singing. During his stay in America, he had been out of touch with music. Hence, he felt lonely and missed his earlier college functions in Bombay. In his own words: He was not happy in ‘Ujray dayar mein’ the same ghazal which had won him an award of a lifetime. He put a lot of effort and came out with a gramophone record of ghazals in his voice. On one side of the record, he dubbed Bahadur Shah Zafar’s ghazals and on the other side, Ghalib's’s ghazals.
Unfortunately, the Indian public was reluctant to buy them.
From these ghazals, actress Meena Kumari became a fan of his, and since she was at the time affiliated with Radio Ceylon, she had his recordings broadcast often. This boosted Habib Wali's sales and caused him to become a celebrity.
After partition, his family migrated to Pakistan and established an industrial group which includes the Shalimar silk mills. He gave most of his time to the family business, recording ghazals and geets for films in his spare time, however music was not pursued as a profession.
However he still sang ghazals for the music companies.(including a geet written by Perveen Shakir: ‘Gori karath singhar’) In the eighties, he recorded ghazals on audio cassettes which were composed by the renowned music director Nisar Bazmi. In addition, he received offers to record play-back songs for the Pakistan film industry.
Habib Wali Mohammad is from an early group of singers ever to record the art form and is still at his peak today. But probably because of his background and as a member of a well-established family, Habib Wali has never pursued an aggressive and mainstream career as a singer, though he is still highly regarded.
He has been awarded the Nigar award. His famous ghazals include Bahadur Shah Zafar's 'Na kisi ki Aankh ka noor hoon' and Qamar Jalalavi's 'Kab mera nasheman ahelay chaman'. All of his performances of the ghazals of Bahadur Shah Zafar have been very popular.
His other well known ghazals, include Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo. He also sang the famous national song, "Roshan-o-Rakhshan, Nayyar-o-Tabaan, Pakistan rahay".
Habib Wali Mohammad lives in California, United States with his wife, Rehana and his family, including his sons, Rizwan Wali Mohammad Tabani and Nadeem Wali Mohammad Tabani. Both are well accomplished ghazal and geet performers in their own right. One has two offspring, Anwar Tabani who lives in Edison, New Jersey and Ruxana who lives Karachi, Pakistan.
Some of the ghazals, recorded in the voice of Habib Wali Mohammad are listed here below:
‘Ye na thi hamari Qismath’: poet: Ghalib
‘Ja kahio unsay naseem-e-sahar’: poet: Bahadur Shah Zafar.
‘Gajra bana kay lay Aa malaniya’: poet: Afshan Rana.
Following are the ghazals, which are considered as a treasure for the Pakistani films:
‘Aaj janay ki zid na karo’: poet: Fayyaz Hashmi, picturised on Nadeem
‘Aashiyan jal gaya’ :poet: Raaz Illahabadi, film: ‘Baazi’
'Raatain theen chandni':Film: ‘Baazi’ 'Marnen ki Duawain Kyun Mangon-Jeene ti Tamana kon Kare'
National songs like: ‘Roshan-o- afshan, nayyar-o-taban’
Habib Wali Mohammad had a ghazal concert on February 27, 2010 in Edison, New Jersey, and on February 28, 2010 in West Virginia, performing with his son Nadeem Wali Mohammad, and former singer Bela Modi.
Wali Mohammad recently performed in April 2012 in San Jose California for the Human Development Foundation, a fund raising event.