Professor Nahsid Kamal is a multi-talented person. Skilled in various musical styles, she also excelled academically, which makes her a true rarity. She stood 7th in SSC and 2nd in HSC exams. At Dhaka University, she again became 1st class 1st in Statistics. She did her MSc from Carlton University, Canada and PhD from (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine) LSHTM, UK in 1996 in Demography. She was the first child artiste on BTV, erstwhile PTV on 25th December, 1964, on the day the first TV channel of South Asia started. In recent times, she has received much applause carrying the music of Kazi Nazrul Islam both at home and abroad. Her grandfather, Abbas Uddin's folk song, especially Bhawaiyya is also alive in the voice of Professor and Doctor Nashid Kamal. She also sings Urdu Ghazals and Classical songs. She has written nine books: three of which are in Bangla and the rest in English. These books include translations of Nazrul songs (The Return of Laili), his poems (Chokrobak), his life-story (Biography of Nazrul) and a novel (Glass Bangles). She joined Dhaka University as a lecturer in 1986. She joined Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) in 1996 as the Head of Population and Environment, and she joined North South University in 2012. Currently, she is a part time professor at BRAC. She has worked for UNDP and UNFPA as well, and has 25 research publications to her credit, including one in the LANCET. She was a visiting scholar at UCL, Penn State University and Shouthern Illinois University.
In short, giving back to society is my philosophy. Contributing to the country through enriching the younger generation is what keeps me going. My experience in life would make the next generation richer. Even when I was younger – the time I went to study my masters, my focus has always been to give all I have back to our younger generation. I had many opportunities stay back in some foreign land and live a comfortable life. But I always had my country in mind and wanted give back what I learned to the larger society – the society I belong to. My first job paid me very little yet I was happy that I was giving back to the society I belong to. I can go even further back; when Bangladesh became a new nation, I was a student of class nine. We all had that thought in our minds that we would give whatever little we have to the betterment of Bangladesh. I suppose, that was the time the motivation came to me. If I paraphrase, I want to be happy and make others happy.
I think I want to be an idol myself. It keeps me going thinking that one day people will take me as their idol. I want reach a level where my academic achievements and my success in music will make me a role model for others. I have always been good academically and also kept my musical career going. My musical horizon is wide and far – it encompasses modern, folk, classical and Bhawaiyya, and I also teach music and appear on TV as a presenter. I had to work really hard to balance the different aspects of my life and achieve what I have. I have done all these with an inspiration that one day others will follow my footsteps. I feel humbled when my peers praise me for life of discipline and balance between extracurricular activities and my family.
It is a combination of many people. My father, former Chief Justice Mustafa Kamal who speaks very well both in Bangla and English, he sings well and writes well too. He is one of my idols. Both my parents were academically talented. My mother, Begum Hosne Ara Kamal was a professor at Dhaka University - also my idol. My mother possessed indescribable beauty and talent. Ferdausi Rahman, my aunt is another of my idols.
I always felt blessed to be born in a cultural and creative family. I suppose, I inherited some of those talents from my family. I sing Nazrul Sangeet, modern, classical, folk and Bhawaiyya. I feel fortunate that I have managed to pick up Bhawaiyya which is a difficult form music originating from Rangpur, and the world knows me as a Bhawaiyya singer. I think because I was born in a family where music was everywhere, I inherited the voice intonation that is required to sing Bhawaiyya. When it comes to contemporary music, I don't oppose band-music. Rather than emphasizing only the vocalist, in band-music the group is focused. As a musician, I want our philosophy to be delivered to the audience – it could be through any genre of music.
Nashid Kamal's Favourites
12 Years a Slave
Dip Jele Jai
Ustad Rashid Khan
The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri
The Python – Professor Haroonuzzaman
Deyal – Humayun Ahmed