Abida Parveen

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Abida Parveen (folk singer)
Abida Parveen in 2009.png
Parveen performing in Coke Studio in 2010
Background information
Birth name Abida Parveen
Also known as Queen of Sufi music
Origin Larkana, Sindh, Pakistan
Genres Kafi
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1973–Present
Associated acts Coke Studio,
Bulleh Shah, Mobilink, Telenor, Alfllah

Abida Parveen (Urdu/Punjabi: عابده پروين) is a prominent Pakistani Sufi singer often dubbed as the '"Queen of Sufi music.[1]

Born and raised in Larkana into a Sindhi Sufi family, she was trained by her father Ghulam Haider. Parveen starting 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.[2] Parveen also features in Pakistan's popular musical show Coke Studio and was a judge on the pan-South Asia contest show Sur Kshetra.[3]

Parveen is referred as one of the world's greatest mystic singers.[4] She sings mainly ghazals and her forte, Kafis, a solo genre accompanied by percussion and harmonium, using a repertoire of songs by Sufi poets.[5] Parveen sings in Urdu, Sindhi, Saraiki, Punjabi and Persian.[6][7][8][9]

Parveen is best known for her songs Yaar ko Humne from the album Raqs-e-Bismil and Tere Ishq Nachaya which is a rendition of Bulleh Shah's poetry.[10] Pakistan's second highest civilian award the Hilal-e-Imtiaz has been bestowed upon her by the President of Pakistan for 2012.[11]

Early life[edit]

Parveen was born in mohalla Ali Goharabad in Larkana, Sindh, Pakistan.[6] 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.[12][13] Later Ustad Salamat Ali Khan of the Sham Chorasia 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
  • In early 1970s Parveen had already begun performing at Dargahs and Urs.
  • Parveen embarked upon her professional career from Radio Pakistan, Hyderabad, in 1973.
  • Her first hit was the Sindhi song Tuhinje zulfan jay band kamand widha.
  • In 1977 she was introduced as an official singer of Radio Pakistan. From then on, Parveen has risen to exceptional prominence and is considered one of the finest vocal artists of Pakistan.
  • She brought Sufi Music to a new level and gave it a new identity marking the beginning of this journey at Sultana Siddiqui's AwazoAndaz in 1980.
  • Her first US tour was in 1993 and she has since traveled across the world to perform at sold-out venues. Parveen tours frequently and is highly famous in the West.[14] Parveen cites her reason for travelling is spreading Sufism, Peace and the Divine Message.
  • Her fame traveled through Pakistan and across the seas, and she toured USA, UK, and France between 1985 and 1988.
  • Her 1988 performance in Chicago was recorded by the Hazrat Amir Khusrau Society of Art and Culture, which issued a long-play record of her renderings.
  • Her 1989 performance in London's Wembley Conference Hall was recorded by the British Broadcasting Corporation and aired for an hour.
  • In the 1990s Parveen licensed her spiritual ghazals to Bollywood, since her "spiritual brother", Khan, recorded songs for Bollywood films. Recently Abida also performed at the Sindh Festival in Thatta.
  • She has represented Pakistan before masses and has performed for huge audiences worldwide.[15]
  • In 2007 Parveen collaborated with Shehzad Roy for a song, Zindagi, dedicated to social problems regarding children.[16]
  • In 2008, Parveen performed at the Sufi Festival in New York City at the Asia Society to promote Pakistani culture and mutual peace.
  • Parveen performs yearly at Indian film-maker Muzaffar Ali's Jahan-e-Khusrau event and is reputed as the grand performer of the event.
  • In 2010 she judged the Indo-Pak venture Sur Kshetra TV Show.
  • Abida tours frequently. She always remembers that people line up early for her concert and there are already thousands of people present when there is still plenty of time left for the show to start.[17] Her famous trips include Oslo, Norway, Mauritius and Singapore. Her most recent trip is the Temporum concert in Amsterdam on 6 June 2014.


  • "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."[18]
  • "My culture – our culture – is rich in spirituality and love."[18]
  • "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."[2]


Abida performed on the internationally acclaimed Pakistani show Coke Studio Season 3, in 2010 on which she sang three songs: Ramooz-e-Ishq, Nigah-e-Darwaishaan, and Soz-e-Ishqin Episode 1(Reason), 3 (Conception) and 5 (Realization) respectively. Parveen said she admired it a lot as it offered a Dargahi Environment.

"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." Parveen in an interview.[19]

She was invited by the Coke Studio for season 7 in 2014. She sang "Mein Sufi Hoon" with Ustaad Raees Khan and performed "dost" as a solo. In coke studio season 7, she also performed "Chaap Tilak" (A popular Sufi poem by renowned Sufi poet Amir Khusro) in a duet with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

Abida is also a part of Coke studio's ninth season. The first of her performance was in the song dedicated to the martyrs of war, titled 'Ae Rah Haq K Shaheedo.'[20] After that abida parveen sung two songs one was with Ali sethi namely "Aaqa" this was a Sufi song released in second episode of coke studio season09 this was very popular and was trend on Twitter and then her second single song namely "Maula-i-kull" was also a Sufi song and that song also broke many records.

Personal life[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.[14] The couple has two daughters Pereha Ikram, who has an MBA college degree and Marium Hussain and a son Saranj. All 3 kids act as her advisors.[15] Her family understands her need for riyaz ( daily vocal music practice) and its required space to do that practice.[17]

Abida Parveen Gallery[edit]

Parveen also owns a business Abida Parveen Gallery which features jewellery, arts, her music CDs and garments and is run by her daughters.[21]

Clothing style[edit]

Parveen has a distinct clothing style which she has created out of 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 always wears her curly hair untied and natural.


  • Parveen is a huge fan of paintings.
  • Parveen has taken Bayyat and became a disciple of Najeeb Sultan, her spiritual master.
  • Parveen became a heart patient after suffering from a heart attack during a performance in Lahore on 28 November 2010. 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.


  • Atif Aslam paid tribute to Parveen. He also declared himself her biggest fan.
  • Sanam Marvi has paid tribute to her.
  • Rabbi Shergill named her as his inspirational music icon.
  • She has been dubbed as the Uncrowned Empress of Sufi Music and Undisputed Sufi Queen.


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.[24] She even got offers from Shah Rukh Khan for Ra.One and renowned music director A.R.Rehman has offered her some songs, too.[25]


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 Upcoming 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. ^ http://www.wisemuslimwomen.org/muslimwomen/bio/abida_parveen/, Profile of music composer and performer Abida Parveen on wisemuslimwomen.org website, Retrieved 21 Sep 2016
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ Staff, Images (2016-08-06). "Amjad Sabri, Rahat Fateh, Abida Parveen kick-start Coke Studio 9 with an emotional tribute". Retrieved 2016-08-13. 
  4. ^ Madhumita Dutta (2008). Let's Know Music and Musical Instruments of India. p. 56. ISBN 9781905863297. 
  5. ^ Culshaw, By Peter. "Singer with the knock-out effect". 
  6. ^ a b The Hypnotic Voice of Abida Parveen Archived 23 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine. The Daily Star, 16 July 2004.
  7. ^ Ecstasy In Songs Of the Sufi By Neil Strauss, New York Times, 15 October 1996.
  8. ^ MYSTICAL SINGER'S MUSIC IS THE MESSAGE Archived 5 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine. By Mary Talbot, Daily News, 11 October 1996.
  9. ^ Abida Parveen World music: the basics, by Richard Nidel. Routledge, 2005. ISBN 0-415-96800-3. p.247.
  10. ^ Anna S. King, J. L. Brockington (2005). The Intimate Other: Love Divine in Indic Religions. Orient Blackswan. p. 358. ISBN 9788125028017. 
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ Begum Abida Parveen sings dil se TNN, The Times of India, 17 June 2003.
  13. ^ Mughal. "SINDHI MUSIC". sindhiaudio.blogspot.com. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ a b "Abida Parveen". travel-culture.com. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  16. ^ "Shehzad Roy and Abida Parveen Collaborate for a Cause". Sonya Rehman's Archive. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  17. ^ a b "An Exclusive Interview with Abida Parveen- The Reigning Queen of Sufi Music". Fuchsia. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  18. ^ 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. 
  19. ^ "Abida Parveen - profile, interview & pictures". forumpakistan.com. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  20. ^ Staff, Images (2016-08-06). "Amjad Sabri, Rahat Fateh, Abida Parveen kick-start Coke Studio 9 with an emotional tribute". Retrieved 2016-08-07. 
  21. ^ "A store that's jewellery will 'set it apart'". tribune.com.pk. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  22. ^ "Recognition: President Zardari confers top civil awards". tribune.com.pk. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  23. ^ "India honours Abida Parveen with life time achievement award". dawn.com. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  24. ^ "Bollywood can wait: Abida Parveen (Interview)". 
  25. ^ "Abida Parveen and Runa Laila to spread love in India - Times of India". 

External links[edit]