On Saturday 15 October 2016, Funoon London (www.funoon.co.uk) hosted the launch of the Funoon Salon with a line-up up of a range of top Pakistani musicians representing the diversity of Pakistan’s music scene – Coke Studio sensations Ali Hamza of Noori and Bilal Khan, and emerging talents Natasha Khan and Noorzadeh Raja. The event was hosted in an intimate and relaxed lounge setting at Goodenough College, and included as guests arts promoters, journalists, bloggers, musicians, students and Pakistani and world music fans.
Ali Hamza, in his first UK performance, sang from his diverse repertoire of pop, rock, Sufi soul and Punjabi folk songs, including superhits ‘Manwa Re’ and recent Coke Studio sensation ‘Paar Chanaa De’, and gave a preview of a soulful new Punjabi song ‘Maare Kakkiya’. Co-founder of Funoon London, Nadia Rahman said: “it was incredible to see the generosity with which Ali Hamza performed and supported the other newer musicians on stage. He engaged the audience with stories, details about his life and relationship with his wife Nafisa, and jammed with the other musicians in a way that people haven’t seen him do before. We’ve received tremendous feedback from the diverse audience present about how much they warmed to him as both – a person and a hugely talented musician, and how charming they found him”.
Bilal Khan did a superb acoustic performance of his superhits ‘Bachana’ and ‘To Kya Hua’. Natasha Khan who also sang in Coke Studio’s latest season gave her velvety vocals to accompanying Ali Hamza on ‘Paar Chanaa De’, and sang a breathtaking acoustic version of her new song ‘Tere Bin’. Noorzadeh Raja, a singer-songwriter and law student who fuses Eastern and Western music, and sings in both English and Urdu sang ‘Undone’, and ‘Aks-e-Khushboo’, a song based on a poem by the Pakistani poet Parveen Shakir. The performance ended with a medley sung by all the musicians of contemporary Pakistani music, and classic and modern Bollywood songs including ‘Rang Barse’ and ‘Beedi’.
The performance also included all the musicians speaking about their personal journeys into music, the role of identity issues in making music, and the representation of Pakistani music globally.
Celebrated supperclub chef Asma Khan of Darjeeling Express provided street food snacks and masala chai. Translations and backgrounds of selected songs were also provided via Twitter.
Funoon’s Salon is a series of events which aims to promote greater audience engagement with South Asian arts and culture. It aims particularly to provide a space where artists and audiences can connect and exchange knowledge, ideas, perspectives. Hosting the event, co-founder of Funoon Seema Khan said “We like to call it ‘making meaning’ – helping audiences to engage with the histories and contexts behind the art, with the lives and perspectives of the artists themselves, and with what their work means to us in our everyday lives”.
Information about Funoon’s future Salon events will be available on the website www.funoon.co.uk.