Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Ghazal legend Mehdi Hassan passes away

Celebrated Pakistani Ghazal singer Mehdi Hassan has died of multiple organ failure aged 84.

The singer, one of the unique few performers to have enjoyed cross border appeal in Pakistan and India, passed away after being admitted to a hospital in Karachi earlier this week.

Tributes have poured in from around the world for the singer with TV channels broadcasting live and hundreds of fans gathering at the Aga Khan Hospital in Karachi.

Hassan enjoyed a glittering career spanning some 50 years and was considered one of the finest practitioners of the 400-year-old art of Ghazal music.

Hassan - whose funeral will be on Friday - also achieved huge commercial success, providing music for many South Asian films.

Legendary Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar once likened his songs to the "voice of god".
On learning of his death, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called Hassan "an icon who mesmerised music lovers" in Pakistan and the sub-continent for decades, AFP news agency reports.
Born in 1927 to a family of traditional musicians in rural Rajasthan, Hassan and his family were forced to migrate to Pakistan at the time of partition in 1947.

He worked as an auto mechanic before his big break in 1957, when he got his first chance on Radio Pakistan as a classical 'thumri' singer.
Over the next 30 years he composed hundreds of songs for Pakistani movies and embraced Ghazals as well, his music proving popular throughout the sub-continent.

In a 1989 interview with the BBC Hindi service, Hassan revealed the history of Ghazal in his family:  "My ancestors use to regale the Royals of Jaipur, Rajasthan in India.  We still have remains of our home around the Amber Fort. And my earlier generations were gifted by the princely state of Jaipur to another royal household called Jhunjhunu in the faraway desert.

"But be it then or now, India or Pakistan, our music is the same, full of devotion."
Hassan became a Pakistani cultural ambassador who visited India.

He cut back on his performances in the late 1980s due to illness, which included a serious lung condition. The severity of his illness forced him to give up all singing by the late-1990s.
In 2010, however, he recorded a duet with Lata Mangeshkar, a long-time admirer, for an album called Sarhadein (Borders), which was released in 2011.

Mehdi Hassan recorded his part of the song in Karachi, while Lata Mangeshkar's part was recorded in Mumbai.
- UKAsian Staff

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