Aliya Sharafi: A woman with a musical mission | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 18, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 18, 2009

Aliya Sharafi: A woman with a musical mission

Aliya Sharafi pays her respect to her guru Girija Devi (left).

Aliya Sharafi, daughter of legendary singer Kalim Sharafi, is a talented musician in her own right. Currently working as an interpreter in three languages in the office of the Attorney General in the Ontario Court of Justice, she hopes to perform in Bangladesh end July/August.
Aliya recently responded by e-mail to a variety of questions sent to her by The Daily Star. We reproduce the questions and her answers:
Who are your gurus and are ghazals your forte?
I have been learning kheyals from Ustad Phool Mohammad for the better part of my life. My guru Padmabhushan Girija Devi trained me in thumri, dadra, kajri and chaiti. Now I learn ghazals from the young maestro Jaswinder Singh. Later I hope to learn ghazals from Shanti Hiranandji, the foremost disciple of Begum Akhter. I intend to specialise in ghazals.
Your guruji Jaswinder Singh's latest CD was released by Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar. It must be a major honour for him…
Guruji had three other CDs prior to this. This one has been released by SAREGAMA, a major platform for music in India. It is a major honour for any singer to have a CD released by a poet of the stature of Javed Akhter and an intellectual like Shabana Azmi, daughter of Kaifi Azmi, a renowned ghazal writer.
Apparently you have bagged a Canadian government grant to study music in Mumbai. To what do you attribute this honour?
The Art Council of Canada awards this grant to established and talented artistes in Canada. It is difficult to get this grant but if you have made a sufficient contribution towards the Canadian community through your art then you are eligible for this grant. Ultimately one has to go through a lifetime of contributions to the community to get this honour. For me, therefore, it is a privilege to gain acceptance from The Art Council of Canada.
What would you say are your main achievements ?
Apart from this grant, I did playback for the first time at the age of 12 for the film Sutarang. It was called Emon moja hoi na and turned out to be a super hit. Other playbacks include Dushtu Meye Paliye Berai (a duet with Farida Yasmeen) in Kagojer Nauka, Naach re O Kath Putli Naach (duet with Abdul Alim) in Soye Nadia Jage Pani and Agun Jalaish na Amaar gaye re (with Mahbooba Rahman in Gunai Bibi.
Achievements and awards:
Getting the first position in the ghazal genre in the Education Week of the then East Pakistan in 1967. Singing for Bangladesh TV in Rag-rang as a classical artiste. Representing Bangladesh in the West as an artiste in the semi- classical genre. Being the first Bangladeshi artiste to sing at the Lincoln Centre Broadway New York, as reported by the New York weekly Shaptahik Bangalee. In this concert I sang thumris. Opening my music school Prachee Sangeet Vidyalay, which won me recognition both at home and abroad.
Where does music figure in your life in Toronto?
I have been singing in Toronto since 2000. My most memorable show there was envisaged for the Bengali community at the 50th anniversary of the Bangla Bhasha Andolon(Language Movement). I managed to gather artistes from all across Canada to perform on a common stage in a "gaantha' programme. Previously the Bangladeshi community in Toronto had never seen anything like that.
I have established my music school and been a judge for organisations such as Udichi and Fobana. I have also been a judge on the internet for Paltalk singers. Which is a new technology where we are able to conduct these occasions where singers from all over the world log in to compete and we are appointed as judges to promote these.
You are evidently a multi-tasker. Where does singing fit into your scheme of things?
Music is my passion and I intend to focus on it. My job is for daily survival.

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