Shammi Akhter, or Shamima Akhter, may be termed the nightingale of Bangla music. She will never sing live or record any new song anymore, as she breathed her last yesterday afternoon, at the age of 60, on the way to the hospital, after she suddenly fell ill at her Shantinagar residence in Dhaka.
Her husband Akramul Islam, also noted folk singer, confirmed the news yesterday. She will be laid to rest at Shahjahanpur Graveyard, following her Namaz-e-Janaza after Zohr prayers today.
Born on February 16, 1957, Shammi had been suffering from breast cancer for the past five years. She left behind her husband, son Kamol, daughter Sajia, two grandsons, and a host of relatives, co-artistes, and fans.
Shammi Akhter had already found her rightful place in the hearts of Bangla music lovers as she lent her voice to numerous popular songs like “Dhaka Shohor Aisha”, “Bhalobashlei Shobar Shathe”, “Mone Boro Asha Chhilo”, “Ei Banglaye Bar Bar”, “Ei Banglar Mati Te”, “Amar Moner Bedona”, “Ami Brishtite Bheja Rajanigandha”, “Ami Tomar Bondhu”, “Mone Hoy Hazar Bochhor Dhore Dekhina Tomaye”.
The noted singer had trained under many gurus, though she was baptised into the world of music by Ustad Gaur Babu [of Barisal]. After the recording of two hit songs, “Dhaka Shohor Aisha” and “Ami Jemon Achhi Temon Robo Bou Hobona Rey” for the film “Ashikkhito”, she never had to look back. During her near five-decade long career, she was playback for around 300 film songs including, “Bidesh Giya Bondhu”, “Ei Raat Dake Oi Chand Dake” [duet with Subir Nandi], “Amar Moner Bedona Bondhu Chhara Janena”, “Amar Baul Moner Ektarata” [duet with Rafiqul Alam], “Amar Naye Paar Hoite Lage Sholoana” [duet with Subir Nandi].
She first recorded a Nazrul Sangeet “Eki Oporoop Roop-e Maa Tomaye” for what is now Bangladesh Betar, in 1970.
Shammi's fellow artistes -- Rafiqul Alam, Subir Nandi, Kumar Bishwajit, and Fahmida Nabi – share some fond memories of her.
“Such a rich vocal is rarely found amongst the singers of Bangladesh. Singers will come; but artistes like Shammi Akhter will never come. She would perform so mellifluously. I had a 45-year long friendship with her. I personally feel at a loss at the news of her death. May Allah grant her Jannah,” said renowned singer Rafiqul Alam.
“I have many memories with Shammi Akhter. She had such a big heart. She never felt pride in gaining popularity and always led a simple life. I feel as if I lost one of my family members. May the Almighty rest her departed soul in eternal peace,” said renowned singer Subir Nandi.
“I am deeply shocked at Shammi Akhter's demise. She was a great singer and a very good soul, who I thought of as my own sister. She was a big-hearted person who never lost her temper with anyone. I performed with her on many stages,” said noted singer Kumar Bishwajit.
“I first met her in 1976 when she came to our green corner (at Green Road) residence to seek blessings from my father, eminent singer Mahmudun Nabi. From then on, we had a good relationship with her whole family. She regularly took part in the adda full of singers, held on the rooftop of our building. She would perform from her heart. Such an artiste never dies. I pray for her departed soul,” said popular singer Fahmida Nabi.