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[[Image:4094w sain-zahoor.jpg|256px|thumb|right|Sain Zahoor performing at theIndia Habitat Centremarker in May 2006, with his three-string Ektara. ]]

Sain Zahoor or Saeen Zahur Ahmad ( ) (b. around 1945) is aleading Sufi musician from Pakistanmarker.He spent his life singing in the Sufi shrines, andhad not cut arecord until 2006, when he wasnominated for the BBC World Music awards based onword of mouth.He emerged as the "best BBC voice of the year 2006", an award that hadearlier recognized other prominent Sufi singers such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khanand Abida Parveen. Sain is not his first name but an honorific and isalso speltSaeen or Saiyan, and Zahoor may be spelt Zahur. Sain Zahoor known for his "Magical" Voice which is known to put his listeners to trance.

Life

Born in the Okara/[[Sahiwal]punjab] region in the province of Punjabmarker (Pakistan), Zahoor baba was the youngest in a rural peasant family. He is said to have started singing at the age of five, and from that early age, he had dreamt of a hand beckoning him towards a shrine. He left home at the age of thirteen, roaming the Sufi shrines of Sindmarker, Punjab, and Azad (liberated) Kashmir, making a living through singing. Eventually, Saieen was walking past a small shrine in the south Punjab town of Uch Sharifmarker (known for its Sufi traditions), when "someone waved at me with his hand, inviting me in, and I suddenly realised that it was this hand which I saw in my dream."

For some time, he studied music under Ustad Sain Raunka Ali of Patiala Gharana, whom he met at Baba Bulleh Shah's dargah (shrine), and who became his first ustad for Sufi kalams (verses). Saieen also learned music from Uch Sharif based musicians Ustad Ronaq Ali and Sain Marna.

Saieen cannot read or write but is known for his memory of song lyrics; mostly he sings compositions of the major Sufi poets, Bulleh Shah, Mullah Shah Badakhshi, Muhammad Buksh, and others.

Musical style

[[Image:4075w sain-zahoor.jpg|200px|thumb|left|Saieen Zahoor performing withhis decorated Ektara (a kind of lute, normally with a single string,but he uses a three-stringed version). Notice the long kurta and theghungroos (anklet bells).]]

All his life, Saieen Zahoor has performed mainly in dargahs (Sufi tombs/shrines) and festivals, and in the streets. He adopted the folk instrument Ektara (ek= one, tar = string), in its three-stringed version called Tumbi, as his main instrument. Like some traditions of Sufi music, he has a passionate, high-energy style of singing, often dancing in a frenzied style with the tassels on his instrument whirling around him . Dressed inembroidered (kurta), beads, tightly bound turban, as well as ghungroos (anklet-bells worn by dancers), Saieen Zahoor cuts an impressive figure. His voice has an earthy tone, almost cracking at the edges, but capable of a wide vocal and emotional range.

In 1989 he performed on a concert stage for the first time at the All Pakistan Music Conference, which brought him into musical prominence. Subsequently he has emerged as a leading performer in Pakistan, frequently appearing on TV and in concerts attended byPresident General Pervez Musharraf. Zahoor has also given concerts in UK, Japan, Ireland and India.

Sufi singing is focused on poetry with themes of devotional love, which shares much with Persian mystic poets like Rumi and with other South Asian traditions such as the Bhakti cult. Sufi traditions highlight a softer, multi-cultural aspect of Islam, and are seen as a countering "the extremism of the mullahs who use the mosques to spread ill-will" against other cultural groups, according to some organizers of Saieen Zahoor's concerts.

In 2006 Saieen had a record out (Awazay, sounds) with Matteela Records. In 2007 he helped produce the soundtrack to the Pakistani film Khuda Ke Liye.

References




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