If you look back at the soul-stirring vocals of our artists, the one name that always distinctively stands out is that of Ahmed Jehanzeb. His charisma lay in the way he can completely serenade with his defining vocal capabilities. There is truly not a voice like his but this talented maestro never took his impeccable talent to his head, being able to remain humble and define his work with sheer commitment and passion to create and continue to create.
Social Diary learned more about his defining work in our interesting conversation recently.
SD: You ventured into the world of music when you were just 4 years old, how did you muster the courage to perform on stage at such a young age?
Ahmed: I believe grooming starts from your home at an early age. My father made me who I am today though he didn’t come from any musical background. He was a solid man, abiding by rules and regulations, and leading his life with courage and integrity. He had an eye for talent and spotted my vocal abilities early on. He would actually bribe me and get me to sing for the family. He gave me the courage to start singing at family gatherings too. And within a couple of years, I was performing in front of thousands of people. My father had made up his mind that I will shine in the field of music and make a strong name for myself.
SD: Aside from your parent’s support, what would you say has been the leading factor in your success?
Ahmed: It was Allah SWT, then my parents and with time, I realized I had to work hard myself. People might consider I may come with some unusual, heart-wrenching stories as mostly my songs are about romance and broken romance. But it was quite the contrary- I was a spoiled brat, the ‘Denis’ of the family if you will. In my teenage years, I put in consistent effort and my hard work finally paid off. My solid melody ‘Aik Baar Kaho Tum Meri Ho’ was a hint of something new to the music industry, creating waves since its release.
SD: Did you take on any professional/formal training to groom your skills further?
Ahmed: Yes. At the age of eight, I was introduced to the highly popular Indian Sitar Player ‘Ustad Rais Khan’ Sb. In India, to this day, he is one of the biggest sitar players. He’s been behind some amazing Pakistani songs in the era of the seventies, eighties, and even the early nineties. I took formal training from him for a year. What I learned was implemented into my singing skills.
SD: Kindly share some interesting incidents that happened while you trained under Ustad Rais Khan?
Ahmed: There are so many. But one incident I can recall is when I was woken up by my Ustad one night at 3 am; he told me to repeat what he had taught me. He turned on the lights and I was wondering why he asked me to sing at this time. I sang what he had taught me and he was satisfied. The thing is I’m a foodie and after my lesson, he treated me to ‘palak chicken’ with aromantic, small pieces of bread. It was something I remember very well.
SD: Your soulful voice truly stands out. Was it a conscious choice to choose to sing soul-stirring songs?
Ahmed: From a very young age, I witnessed how my parents who were passionate listeners would listen to Ustaads. And this contributed to the development of my voice. I had been singing from the age of 3-4 years with a unique tone. I consider this as Allah’s gift to have a focus on melodious singing. I might do bhangras down the lane when I decide on changing gears, but I’m happy to have kept the trend alive of singing soulful songs- be it any era.
SD: Among the albums you have released, which remains your favorite and why?
Ahmed: Parastish stands out definitely. It represented the breakthrough of my life; a compilation depicting my father’s hard work and passion as well as what I had learned through my Ustaad.
SD: Your Coke Studio performances were completely enchanting- how does it feel to actually bring your talent to the stage in a completely raw form?
Ahmed: I believe that time is a major element that defines our existence; it heals, and it gives you happiness when you are destined for something great. Don’t stress out and your time will come. Allah has set everything perfectly in your life- it will happen when it’s destined to. Coke Studio has been creating waves since 2003. I was a huge fan. But I never rushed into it. And when the call came from the brand and I was approached, I was grateful. It is undoubtedly the biggest platform we have for singers. The songs I did were timed perfectly and they stood out. I know there are huge things to come, even international collaborations. Remember to not stop dreaming but work hard as well.
SD: You have also performed with major Indian music artists- considering the political tension between the two countries, how do you feel it hits on artists from both sides?
Ahmed: Music is an international language that everybody speaks. A sound can change and stir various emotions within you. It’s spiritual indeed. Be it India or any country, the work of music artists is truly defining as it bridges gaps, so it’s unfortunate when political tensions disrupt that process. I went to India and had an agreement with TIPS India for creating five albums. But in the process of the first album, I faced certain concerns and had to rush back. However, I truly respect how the Indian audience and artists praise genuine music.
SD: Looking at the evolution of music, how would you judge how talent and creating authentic tunes have progressed in recent times?
Ahmed: There has definitely been a repetition of melodies with a focus on remixes. However, that kills originality. I am proud of whatever I made which was authentic. I completely stand behind the fact that original music is the reflection of your talent. Look deep into what you can contribute to the music industry which presents your raw talent. The generation to come is looking up to us. We have this huge responsibility to show them the right path. I actually don’t hold any professional jealousy. Every artist I meet at a concert or generally- it’s always a good reunion as we hug and talk, laugh, and eat together.
SD: Your OSTs for some major dramas have been incredibly loved- any new drama you would be lending your voice to anytime soon?
Ahmed: I love producing songs. That really pushed me to create background scores for films and dramas. God has been kind and I have had success on many drama OSTS. And there are lots and lots more to come- stay tuned.
SD: Would you ever consider venturing into other major industries or taking on the role of an entrepreneur to expand your creativity element?
Ahmed: I definitely see myself completely committed to the music world. I have plans to have a music institute established where we can educate and give guidance on music. There is so much talent but it isn’t really getting the right platform to shine. The outcome is limited. I know opportunities including music competitions will allow many of these emerging talents to shine and present their worth.
IN A GLANCE
Best moment of 2022?
It was a blissful moment to have gotten myself a brand-new SUV this year
Your most prized possession?
Your favorite singer?
Rahat Fateh Ali, Sajjad Ali, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar. There are so many !
The one thing that is a mood killer?
I hate heat- I can’t tolerate scorching heat. I also don’t like fake people and wannabes.
Three things you have with you all the time?
My wallet, my mobile phone, and my glasses
Your life’s motto?
Never give up. Hold onto that drive to attain something in your life.
Desi Wear or Western
I prefer both and I can carry both well.
I have a fear of reptiles- particularly lizards. I also fear I might lose my voice someday.
Certain relationships I was holding onto which I regret now as they wasted years of my life
If you weren’t a musician, you would have been a….
I would have been an artist of some sort. I can paint and draw too
Allah SWT and my family
Someone you wish to meet
I would have wanted to meet the legends- Elvis Presley, Micheal Jackson and Lata ji
Top 3 things on your bucket list
Travel the globe
Having my own TV channel where I can promote music
A music institute for kids
What does music mean to you?
Music is life. Sound is around us and music comes from that. It’s impossible to imagine life with a mute button on.