Saieen Zahoor


Saieen Zahoor is a leading Sufi musician from Pakistan, who has spent most of his life singing in Sufi shrines. He produced his first record in 2006, after he was nominated for the BBC World Music awards, and emerged as the "best BBC voice of the year 2006." Saieen is not his first name but a Sindhi honorific title.

For most of his life, 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. His typical costume includes embroidered (kurta), beads, tightly bound turban, as well as ghungroos (anklet-bells worn by dancers). 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. Zahoor has also given concerts in UK, Japan, Ireland, India, Canada, and Norway.

Zahoor also performed on Coke Studio, a Pakistani music television series that features live studio-recorded music performances by various artists. The show is produced by the Coca-Cola Company and Frequency Media. Starting in 2008, Coke Studio has been popular throughout the country, receiving critical acclaim and frequently being rebroadcast on numerous television and radio stations. It is one of the most popular music programmes in Asia and is a local brand product of Coca-Cola.

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 Zahoor released an album titled Awazay ("Sounds") through Matteela Records. In 2007 he helped produce the soundtrack to the Pakistani film Khuda Ke Liye. He sang an OST in 2011 for “West is West,” a British comedy-drama film, which is a sequel to the 1999 comedy “East Is East.” He also acted and appeared in the film.

Past Performances

  • May 31, 2014 - VIBC Ekta
  • June 20, 2014 - A Mystical Evening with Saieen Zahoor


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