Abida Parveen (Urdu: عابدہ پروین), a Pakistani singer, is one of the foremost exponents of Sufi music. Her forte is the kafi and the ghazal, though she has also ventured into traditional male territory and sung qawwalis. She is known for her particularly stunning voice, as well as her vivid musical imagination. She has attained legendary status in the Indian Sub-Continent, especially within her home province of Sindh, Pakistan.
Abida was born in Larkana (Sindh province, Pakistan) in 1954. She received her musical training initially from her father, Ghulam Haider, and subsequently from Ustad Salamat Ali Khan.
She embarked upon her professional career from Radio Pakistan, Hyderabad, in 1973. Her first hit was the Sindhi song “Tuhinje zulfan jay band kamand widha”. This song had been sung by many other Sindhi singers before her, but Abida brought her own unique style to it, rooted in classical music.
Although she is associated most closely with the verses of the Sufi saint Shah Abdul Latif, she has also sung the verses of other Sufi saints, including Amir Khusrau, Bulleh Shah, Sachal Sarmast, Sultan Bahu, and others such as Kabir and Waris Shah.
In recent years, it has become fashionable to call Abida the true inheritor of the mantle of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, a giant of Sufi music who died in 1997. While such judgements are necessarily subjective, there is certainly much that Abida has in common with Nusrat. Like him, she possesses a truly magnificent voice, is unassuming despite her superstar status, and her music is informed by a deep commitment to the ideals of Sufism. For both, the act of singing is a passionate offering to God, and for both the deepest part of their magic lies in the fact that they are able to bring the listener’s heart to resonate with the music, so deeply that we ourselves become full partners in that offering.