The lights of the theatre were dim; a hush settled over the audience, anticipation palpable in the air. A hum of the guitar—then Qurat-ul-Ain Balouch’s voice, raw and low, began to fill the room. It resonated throughout the hall and held in the audience in an almost hypnotic sway. There was no doubting it—we were in the presence of the veritable “Princess of Pakistan.”
Attending Qurat-ul-Ain Balouch’s—or QB’s—live set at Fox Cabaret as part of a collaboration between Music on Main and the COB Festival was an awe-inspiring experience for me. When I arrived at the theatre, though, I had no idea what to expect—I am a self-professed newcomer to the fantastic and diverse community of South Asian musical artists. What I did know about QB was that she is an internationally-renowned, Pakistani-based pop artist who started her musical career fairly recently, and who hadn’t received any formal vocal training. I was thus excited and extremely curious to witness what the immense buzz surrounding QB was about—I only knew that she’d been nicknamed the “Princess of Pakistan,” and that her show had sold out days before.
When QB finally took the stage, her vocal and emotional performance abilities seemed greater than most artists I’d seen live. She sang a blend of her own original songs, such as Humsafar and Mera Ishq, as well covers of popular South Asian songs. Although I wasn’t able to understand the exact meanings of her lyrics, QB powerfully, skillfully, conveyed the emotions and themes of her songs through her presence and voice. I felt the importance of meaning slip away as I became entranced in the emotion of her performance. Her voice was worldly and mature, yet at the same time capable of expressing an exuberance and joy towards life. It had a raw edge to it that gave it a passionate dimension, something that could not be taught or learned. I have to admit that I am now a diehard QB fan!
If you missed out on QB’s performance on Tuesday, I urge you not to miss the chance to see her again! She will be performing live at Downtown Bhangra on Friday June 6 at 8:40 pm—for free! Come see her and many other talented artists grace the stage outside the VAG with their undeniable passion for the music, moves, and art of bhangra!
Blog by Vanessa Power
Photo courtesy QB