Qaiser Nizami: Kashmir’s only Grammy-nominated singer



In 1992 he sent his song recording to All India Radio, New Delhi with the hope of getting a high B rating, but to his surprise he received an A rating. It was a moment of joy. for Qaiser Nizami who still cherishes the memory and called it a double promotion.

Singer and composer of Kashmiri music, Qaiser is versatile in many languages. He sings in Awadhi, Purbi, Hindi, Bhojpuri, Persian, Urdu and Kashmiri. During his years of performing, he performed in various states and shared the stage with many renowned artists such as singer, songwriter and Bollywood musician Jagjit Singh.

Qaiser, being the first Kashmiri, was in the running for the prestigious 64 nominationse Grammy Awards for the song Nazninay (O Beauty). The prestigious award is presented by the US Recording Academy to recognize outstanding achievement in the field of music.

In 2020 he is traveling to the United States, where a concert is planned at the University of North Texas, Denton where he is supposed to present Kashmiri poetry and music.

Due to the containment, the event took place virtually. Meanwhile, India has suspended all international flights and Qaiser has been blocked there. He had no idea that the lockdown would soon become an opportunity for him. A group of musicians made up of Americans and Iranians were also present for the event. One of them, an Iranian music composer Ehsan Matoori spoke to Qaiser and the two hit it off.

Qaiser said, “Ehsan came up to me and I sang a song. He played Santoor and also danced to the tunes of my song. After the song ended, he told me that he was friends with a great singer from Iran, Alireza Ghorbani and he told me that he would do a song with both of us.

During the Covid lockdown, the song was shot and the recordings were traded in virtual mode. The song Nazninay (O Beauty) is a bilingual song consisting of two parts – one by Kashmiri gazal Puri Mah by Ibraheem Miskeen sung by Qaisar Nizami and the other is a poem in Farsi Beneshin Mara written by Iranian poet Fereydoun Moshiri and is sung by Alireza Ghorbani.

Based on the lyrics of two songs, Nazninay is a story of love, loss and longing. The song is part of Matoori’s The Voices and Bridges project which explores the musical traditions of different cultures and languages ​​and hopes to bring them together by trying to reduce the different cultures.

“During times of fear, the song was shot. The streets were silent and everyone lived in fear, but we expected the song to win the prestigious award given the circumstances in which we filmed, ”he said.

Qaiser said the song has gone through some difficult stages and that he is fortunate that his Kashmiri voice has reached the international panel. After winning the hearts of international fans with the song, he hopes for a better future.

He said, “Music is a whole subject. When I sincerely reflect on the words of a poet, they speak to me. I am looking for depth in words. The vibe of the script hits me so it doesn’t take long for me to bring the script to life.

Qaisar began his early years practicing music from his home through his father who was a broadcaster. From the age of 7, he hummed songs, learned treble and bass thanks to his father who had studied music as a subject and played the classical flute as a hobby. Watching him play and sing, Qaiser’s interest began to grow.

“My father had some knowledge of singing. Watching him and learning from him was my favorite childhood memory, ”he added.

Dating back to 1988, while in school, he was told to sing Urdu ghazal for the program broadcast on New Years Eve by then-Doordarshan producer Rajesh Koul who had it. heard singing. Qaiser immediately agreed but was a little nervous due to the lack of self-confidence. After rehearsing with the Tabla player, Tilak Raj also considered him fit for gazal.

Qaiser said: “The first time I appeared on Doordarshan as a singer was when I was in 10e to classify. It was too much for a schoolboy. The listeners after the performance thought I was not a Kashmir because my dialect and language was perfect as taught by my father. I had a huge appreciation for my very first performance.

In 1998, he had auditioned on All India Radio in front of the music maestro Pandit Bhajan Sopori and had obtained the B class.

Having the curiosity to learn more and more about music, he began to listen to famous artists from all over the world.

“You have to know what to listen to and how to learn. You need a teacher for this. Fortunately, I had everything available at home – my father. He was multilingual. He knew many languages ​​like Persian, Urdu, Hindi, English and I acquired all these qualities thanks to him ”, he declared.

To move forward in life, her father suggested that she take a teacher to further her learning. Once or twice a year he and his father traveled to Ajmer, Rajasthan. Mohammad Ayoub Khan, a singer from Bareili met them there. Watching Qaiser sing in a beautiful voice, he was impressed and made him his student.

Qaiser recalls, “I used to prepare myself and sing in front of him. Sometimes he liked me and sometimes he corrected me. Several times he came to Kashmir and stayed with us. Those days were the happiest days for me as he taught me every day morning and night. We all need a teacher who can guide us as we travel to reach somewhere. I still consider myself a student and listen to artists to learn from them.

Speaking of Kashmiri artists, he said Kashmir has immense talent but lacks a platform to present it.

He said that many talented artists are sitting in their homes as there is no control over who is hired for events and festivals.

“Mountains and greenery are found in other states as well, but what makes Kashmir beautiful is its art and artists. The song I sang got international recognition, but the people here failed to recognize me and my talent. I don’t have a job in Kashmir and sometimes I feel like I’ve ruined my career. Worthy performers should have a status. Main programs should be done by ranked artists only, ”he said.

Qaiser’s son studied engineering and played the guitar as a hobby. Sometimes he teaches her. He believes that young people should have proper advice to learn any art.

“I ask young people to learn art from a teacher. I am not against any artist. I want every artist to sing but I think a teacher should be consulted for learning. The world of music is huge – full of tunes, melodies and rhymes. These young artists who left without proper training returned without success because they had no knowledge and no language. It takes patience and hard work, ”he said.

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