Music Factoid: Everything you need to know about Zeb Bangash
Zebunnisa Bangash is one of the Pakistan’s most versatile singer-songwriters from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Having the ability to sing in six different languages, she started singing at the early age of eight and even trained as a vocalist with acclaimed Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan. She began writing music with her cousin Haniya when she was an undergraduate studying Economics and History of Art in United States.
While the coke studio artist recently tied knot in Lahore, we thought to give you a complete overview of her brilliant music career.
Zeb & Haniya
Zeb started her career in a band with her cousin Haniya Aslam as Zeb and Haniya. In the beginning, they used to experiment with music as a hobby and ‘Chup’, their first song came to life in sessions at an abandoned café in the basement of Zeb’s dorm.
After a tremendous response from the college community, Zeb and Haniya recorded a rough version ‘Chup’ and another song titled ‘Yaad’ with Mekaal Hasan (of Mekaal Hasan Band).
The songs were a hit and they spread on the Internet – soon finding their way onto City FM 89’s radio waves. After the success, Zeb and Haniya made themselves prominent in the music scene with live performances.
In 2007 they began working on their debut album, in which 9 of the 10 songs were original compositions. The duo stated that they were attempting to produce a diverse body of work, combining pop music with Pushto and Dari folk music. Their debut album received positive reviews.
When Haniya left for Canada, Zeb continued on to do solo music. In an interview Zeb said, “When we took this break we both agreed that there was a need to figure out ourselves musically on our own and discover our identities.”
Zeb collaborated on Kya Khayal Hai with Bollywood musical heavyweights Shantanu Moitra and Swanand Kirkire, for the Cannes Film Award winning TV series Dewarists – which led to her playback singing Bollywood debut with the film Madras Café. Continuing on with her solo act, she worked with Oscar-winning composer A.R Rehman on the soundtrack of Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Highway.’
In Asim Raza’s directorial debut Ho Mann Jahaan, she was not only the main female voice but was also one of the composers of the background score. The project was very close to Zeb’s heart as it was the first time she fully invested in the entire production of the film.
She has also sung for the soundtrack of Bin Roye (2015), Manto (2015) and Fitoor (2016), as well as the title track of hit television series Diyar-e-Dil.
Zeb started a new group Sandaraa after a chance gig with clarinet virtuoso Michael Winogard. She had invited Michael to feature in a concert at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington DC during the summer of 2012.
The concert was a great success and they walked off the stage determined to carry it forward. She considers Sandaraa as an “intersection of different traditions but put together the musical threads are very familiar.”
Now the group features her alongside a host of Brooklyn musicians as they explore “South Asian material (from Balochistan, Afghanistan and beyond) while blending it with the sounds of Eastern Europe, the Balkans and more.” She regularly tours with Sandaraa in the US. One day she hopes to bring Sandaraa to Pakistan, currently their first EP has been uploaded on the online portal patari.pk
Beginning her day at 4 am, Zeb does her daily riyaz with Ustaad Nasiruddin Saami. She considers him and his teachings as a blessing in her life. She had always dreamt of singing traditional music and so her practices with him have deepened her understanding of musical traditions.
However, she believes that while Pakistan has a platform for the youth, it doesn’t have a proper platform for traditional musicians. “We have a heritage which is rich in music that is extremely sophisticated and distinctive. These traditions need to be given center stage and musicians need to be lauded regardless of their age.”
To add Zeb Bangash is also the star voice behind Verna’s popular title track ‘Sambhal Sambhal kay.’
This article was originally published in GLAM Magazine.