Hassan in 1994
|Born||3 April 1965|
|Died||13 August 2000 (aged 35)|
|Resting place||Hendon Cemetery and Crematorium, London|
Mirza Ishtiaq Baig
(m. 1995; div. 2000)
|Children||Arez Hassan (son)|
Nazia Hassan (April 3, 1965 – August 13, 2000) was a Pakistani singer-songwriter, lawyer and social activist. Referred to as the "Queen of Pop" in South Asia, she began her music career at the age of 10, and went on to become one of the most prominent singers across South and Southeast Asia. She, along with her brother, Zoheb Hassan, went on to sell over 65 million records worldwide.
Hassan made her singing debut with the song "Aap Jaisa Koi", which appeared in the Indian film Qurbani in 1980. She received praise for the single, and won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer at the age of 15 in 1981, becoming the first Pakistani to win and currently remains the youngest recipient of the award to date. Her debut album, Disco Deewane, was released in 1981, and charted in fourteen countries worldwide and became the best-selling Asian pop record up at the time. The album included the English language single "Dreamer Deewane" which led her to be the first Pakistani singer to make it to the British charts.
Hassan followed up with the albums Boom Boom in 1982, part of which was used as the soundtrack of the film Star (1982), Young Tarang in 1984, and Hotline in 1987. Her last album, Camera Camera in 1992, was part of a campaign against drugs. Along with her brother, she also appeared in several television programs. In 1988 she appeared in Sung Sung with music maestro Sohail Rana. They also hosted the first-ever pop-music stage show, Music '89, produced by Shoaib Mansoor. Her success played a key role in shaping Pakistani pop music scene.
Throughout her singing career spanning over 15 years, Hassan became one of Pakistan's most popular celebrities. She was a recipient of Pakistan's civilian award, Pride of Performance. In addition to singing, she also engaged in philanthropic activities, and was appointed by UNICEF as its cultural ambassador in 1991. Hassan was revealed to have dealt with several issues in her personal life, such as depression. On August 13, 2000, Hassan died of lung cancer in London at the age of 35.
Hassan was born in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan, and brought up in Karachi and London. She was the daughter of Basir Hassan, a businessman, and Muniza Basir, an active social worker. She was the sister of singers Zoheb Hassan and Zara Hassan.
Hassan's professional music career started at the age of fifteen; she met film director Feroz Khan at a party in the United Kingdom, who later requested that she audition with Biddu, a London-based Indian music composer, for his film Qurbani. Biddu then signed her up for "Aap Jaisa Koi", a song he composed for the film. The song turned to be a huge success in India, and Hassan quickly gained recognition and acclaim. In 1981, Hassan won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback for the song, becoming the youngest to win at age 15 as well as being the first Pakistani to win the award.
Hassan promptly collaborated with Biddu on numerous other projects; in 1981, she became the first playback singer to release an album. Her first album was Disco Deewane. The album broke sales records in Pakistan and India and even topped the charts in the West Indies, Latin America and Russia, becoming an international success. The album became a mega-hit and Hassan became an established pop singer in Pakistan; the album also featured vocals by her brother Zohaib Hassan. Nazia and Zoheb were signed by EMI Group and were the first South Asian singers to be signed by an international music company. At the height of Disco Deewane fever, she frequently drew large crowds, such as 50,000 to 100,000 people greeting her at Calcutta Airport.
After the release of Disco Deewane, Biddu offered Zoheb and her a chance to act in the movie Star in 1982, but they refused and instead chose to perform the soundtrack. The soundtrack album, Star/Boom Boom, was released. She was nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer, although this time she did not win. The album was successful and increased the popularity of Hassan and Zohaib in Pakistan and India.
Hassan's third album, Young Tarang, was released in 1984. It was the first album in Pakistan to feature music videos, which were made in London by David Rose and Kathy Rose. The album became one of the most popular in Asia. "Ankhien Milane Wale" was a popular song from the album. After the release of Young Tarang, she returned to singing for Bollywood movies as a playback singer. Her fourth album, Hotline was released in 1987. Aa Haan was the most popular song of the album. In 1988, she and her brother Zohaib appeared with music maestro Sohail Rana in his television program, Sung Sung.
In 1989, she and Zohaib hosted the show Music '89. The show was produced by Shoaib Mansoor. It was the first-ever all pop-music stage show to be aired on television. The show launched the careers of many new rising bands and singers and became popular in Pakistan. She hosted another show, Dhanak on PTV in the same year.
In 1991, Hassan and her brother Zohaib recorded her fifth album, Camera Camera. Before the album's release, she and Zohaib announced that it would be their last album. The album was released in 1992. After the album's release, she left her singing career to focus on her personal life. Biddu composed a song, "Made in India" and he wanted Nazia to sing it. But the retired Hassan refused to sing a song that might offend Pakistan. The song was then offered to Alisha Chinai.
Hassan received her Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Economics at the Richmond American University in London. In 1991, she became an intern in the Women’s International Leadership program at the United Nations. Later, she went on to work for United Nations Security Council. She held a London University Law (LLB) degree.
On 30 March 1995, Nazia Hassan married businessman Mirza Ishtiaq Baig in an Islamic wedding ceremony held in Karachi. This took place after her being diagnosed with cancer. They have a son, Arez Hassan, born on 7 April 1997. The marriage ended in a divorce ten days before Nazia's death. In an interview later, her brother Zoheb Hassan related that Nazia's personal life was filled with turmoil and she fought personal battles incessantly.
Hassan used her abilities to promote social causes. She especially worked for children, youth and women in distress residing in the underprivileged areas of Karachi. She supported the Inner Wheel Club of India and helped raise funds for it. In Pakistan, she established the organization BAN (Battle Against Narcotics) and became an active member of organizations such as Voice of Women, National Youth Organisation (Pakistan). She is credited for her part in the introduction of mobile clinics in Lyari Town, to make medicine more accessible to those deprived- and in dire need of it.
Hassan worked with Javed Jabbar, former Information minister, to raise funds for children in Tharparkar and Rajasthan. She went to a very large number of schools to hand out toys to poor children and gave talks on the subject of social awareness for the under privileged. Hassan never forgot the love and support of all the schools and always spoke about them with great affection. The worthy staff and the students of St Joseph's Convent School, Mama Parsi School and many others had gone out of their way to help the cause.
In 1991, she joined the United Nations Security Council at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City and worked there for two years. In her third year, she offered her services at UNICEF. Her social and academic excellence won her a scholarship in Columbia University’s Leadership Program, but she was unable to take up the offer because around this time she was diagnosed with cancer.
In 2003, Hassan’s parents created the Nazia Hassan Foundation to further their daughter’s efforts to make the world a better place for everyone, regardless of caste, creed and religion; they decided to open school for street children would help in the grooming and education of working street children.
Nazia Hassan fought a long battle with cancer during the last years of her life and died of lung cancer in London on 13 August 2000 at the age of 35. She had been admitted to North London Hospice in London, three days earlier when her condition deteriorated. She showed signs of mild recovery the day before she died and it was thought that doctors would allow her to go home.
The next day, her mother Muniza was called to the hospital where her daughter had started coughing heavily at around 9:15 am. She died within minutes. Following a Namaz-e-janaza at Golders Green Crematorium, Nazia was buried at Hendon Cemetery (Muslim Section) in London per Islamic rites. In an interview with The Express Tribune, her brother Zoheb revealed "She died an unhappy person, she died in pain."
Impact and achievements
Influence and legacy
Pakistan's vibrant contemporary pop music scene owes itself to Nazia Hassan's redefinition of pop; for her contributions to the genre, she has since been referred to as the "Queen of Pop" in South Asia. She is also known as the "Sweetheart of Pakistan". She is frequently compared to Princess Diana, as she was known to possess a "heart of gold". India Today magazine voted her as one of the top 50 people who helped change the face of India. She has contributed to the development of the present isomorphism of Bollywood music and Indi-pop. "She set – well ahead of its time – the personal album trend in India, spawning the likes of Alisha Chinai, Lucky Ali and Shweta Shetty", the magazine noted at the time.
On 9 March 2002, Nazia Hassan Tribute Concert was held in Karachi, the classic line-up of Vital Signs and Jupiters performed together on stage – for the first time in almost 7 years. The concert was attended by an enthusiastic audience. In 2007, Ahmad Haseeb created the documentary A Music Fairy in a tribute to Hassan which was screened at Kara Film Festival and University of Ankara. In 2009, Director Faraz Waqar paid a tribute to Nazia for her work in music and making Pakistan proud.
On 31 October 2014, Global Voices Online named her as "Young, Independent women who made a space for themselves in Pakistan Music Industry". On 9 November 2014, the Delhi Pop line, showed at the TDAP's Aalishan Pakistan fashion show in Delhi paid ode to Nazia Hassan. On 16 November 2014, Coke Studio Pakistan paid a tribute to Nazia Hassan in season seven with the song "Jaana" sung by Zoheb Hassan and Zoe Viccaji. The song was well received by critics and audiences alike. The song was high on the music charts and is popular on music channels and radio stations. On 17 November 2014, Hassan was named as one of ARY News's "one of the 11 female pioneers of Pakistan." Also in 2014, the Posthumous honorary degree of Doctorate from Richmond American University, London was received by her son Arez Hassan in her honor.
In 2018, Google honoured her with a doodle on what would have been her 53rd birthday that "imagines her performing with her famous flowing hair and dupatta, and the disco balls of the 80s glinting behind her." It was shown to Google users in Australia, Canada, Iceland, New Zealand and Pakistan. In 2020, actress Meesha Shafi covered Hassan's single "Boom Boom" in her memory, which was praised by Zoheb.
Awards and honours
Hassan received a Filmfare Award in 1980 for Best Female Playback Singer, as well as another nomination for the same award in 1983. She is also the recipient of the Pride of Performance, an award bestowed by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to recognize people who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the field of literature, art, sports, science and education". The award was presented to Muniza Basir, Hassan's mother, from the President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf in an official ceremony held at Islamabad in 2002. She is also the recipient of a Golden Disc Award.
- Our Love Last Forever (1981)
- Get a Little Closer (1982)
- Then He Kissed Me (1988)
- Qurbani (1980)
- Star (1982)
- Dilwaala (1986)
- Ilzaam (1986)
- Main Balwaan (1986)
- Adhikar (1986)
- Sheela (1987)
- Saaya (1989)
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