FACE presents Pakistan Showcase @ SXSW 2016


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About

About FACE

FACE, Foundation for Arts Culture and Education, is an organization whose mission is to strengthen, empower, and educate communities through the universal language of arts and through cultural interactions. FACE plays an important role in ensuring education at all levels to empower men and women to create ...

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Contact

Publicist
Ron Kadish
812-339-1195

Current News

  • 12/11/201503/16/2016
  • Austin, TX

Ecstatic Folk: The Wonders of Sindh Resonate in the Powerful Female Voice of Mai Nimani

The shrine to Rama Pir was hemmed in by the 2010 floods that besieged Pakistan. Despite the chaos, the shrine, a syncretic site dedicated to a Hindu/Sufi hybrid deity, was still hosting its annual festival. Musicians came by boat, often spending days crossing the patchwork of land and water.

Mai Nimani was among them, encouraged by her harmonium player husband. They arrived at the festival, only to be told by organizers to wait. And wait. For days. At last, one of the guests at the shrine,...

Press

  • TNS, Feature story, 11/25/2015, In conversation with Farhad Humayun Text
  • Desi News, Article, 02/05/2016, Turning Beloved Sufi Poetry into a Musical Experience
  • FemMusic, Concert preview, 03/01/2016, SXSW 2016 Text
  • e-Desi News, Article, 03/01/2016, Desis at the Grammy Awards
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News

03/16/2016, Austin, TX, Driskill Hotel’s Victorian Room, 8:00 PM
11/23/201503/16/2016, Roving, Dancing Saints: Wahid Allan Faqir Turns Beloved Sufi Poetry into Endearing Song
Event
03/16/2016
Event
03/16/2016
Concert Start Time
8:00 PM
Venue
Driskill Hotel’s Victorian Room
Venue St. Address
604 Brazos St
Venue City, State
Austin, TX
Venue Zip
78701
Wahid Allan’s traditional Sufi performance, the kind practiced by wandering teachers and mystics for generations, will come to the US as part of this year’s SXSW Pakistan Showcase, presented by Islamabad’s FACE. In a night of traditional and contemporary Pakistani music, four artists from around the country will perform. MORE» More»

Sufi teaching isn’t something merely to sing or recite; it’s meant to be lived, and that’s what traditional performer Wahid Allan Faqir does. Strumming the one-stringed kingh, singing devotional songs based in centuries-old poetry, Wahid has taken up the torch of one of Pakistan’s best-loved Sindhi folk singers. Wahid loved Allan Faqir so much, he took his name as an homage.

Rarely heard outside of Pakistan, Wahid Allan’s traditional Sufi performance, the kind practiced by wandering teachers and mystics for generations, will come to the US as part of this year’s SXSW Pakistan Showcase, presented by Islamabad’s FACE. In a night of traditional and contemporary Pakistani music, four artists from around the country will perform at the Driskill Hotel’s Victorian Room on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 8 PM.

Wahid hails a small village on the border of Pakistan’s provinces of Punjab and Sindh, culturally distinct regions that influence his music. As a young man, he went to a celebration at the shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, a revered 18th-century poet and mystic. There his life changed as he watched Allan Faqir perform. Allan Faqir, one of the leading proponents of waee (a lively form of Sufi poetry and music performance popular in Sindh), broke into the Pakistani music mainstream with a big pop hit in the 1980s.

Devoted to Allan Faqir’s work, Wahid quietly began singing and dancing on his own. Wahid served in the military and would often lighten up his fellow soldiers’ evenings by performing Allan Faqir numbers, mirroring the renowned singer’s signature moves and attitude, his peacock-tail turban and engaging antics. After his idol’s passing, he was determined to carry on his legacy.

That legacy includes sound and movement: songs based on Bhittai and other Sufi mystics’ striking poetry coupled with spinning dance meant to induce and inspire ecstasy. Allan Faqir is a born performer, who can mix graceful gesture with goofy comedy, gravelly chants with puckish expressions. Behind him, dholak drums ripple and the harmonium mirrors his melodies. It’s a seamless blend of enlightenment and entertainment.

“Allan Faqir did not sing waee in its more traditional choral recitation format, a practice still common at the shrine of Shah Abdul Latif,” explains music expert and artist advocate Umair Jaffar, who was instrumental in bringing Wahid to a wider audience. “He brought the Waee to the stage, thus playing a major role in popularizing this form by making it more approachable and easy to understand. Wahid Baksh is continuing this approach and just as wonderful a performer.”

Like his predecessors, Wahid keeps alive the Sufi tendency to speak truth to power and to call for justice and kindness for the vulnerable. The faqir has been known to criticize powerful landholding families, one of the major political forces in the region. He’s spoken out against practices like karo-kari, honour killings that remain regrettably common.

This rebellious streak, the insistence that all are one, is an integral part of Wahid’s beliefs and practice. “We are all Sufi,” he likes to remind audiences. “We are all roving saints.”

This showcase is a project of FACE Foundation for Arts Culture and Education, an Islamabad-based organization whose mission is to strengthen, empower, and educate communities through the universal language of arts and through cultural interactions. Support comes from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy, Islamabad.

Event
03/16/2016

03/16/2016, Austin, TX, Victorian Room of the Driskill Hotel, 8:00 PM
12/11/201503/16/2016, Universal Bliss: The Artful Qawwali of Imran Aziz Mian and Company
Event
03/16/2016
Event
03/16/2016
Concert Start Time
8:00 PM
Venue
Victorian Room of the Driskill Hotel
Venue City, State
Austin, TX
Event Notes
Pakistan Showcase at SXSW
Pakistan showcase is a project of FACE Foundation for Arts Culture and Education,an Islamabad-based organization whose mission is to strengthen,empower,and educate communities through the universal language of arts and through cultural interactions. Support comes from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy,Islamabad. MORE» More»

“Our music is for humanity, not bound to any religion or region,” insists Rawalpindi-based qawwali musician Imran Aziz Mian, a powerful performer of the performance genre made famous by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. “People who speak all languages can listen and feel the same way. Our music came from a certain faith, but it’s for all people.”

Qawwali’s sound and message defy religious divisions and language barriers. The astounding force and nimbleness of the qawwal’s voice, the trance-inducing chorus, percussive elements, and harmonium evolved from the poetic tradition of centuries past, but they are a constant part of lived religious experience in Pakistan. It’s music and poetry designed to spark devotion, adoration, and bliss.

Imran Aziz Mian and company will bring this experience to SXSW as part of the Pakistan Showcase on March 16 at 8 PM at the Victorian Room of the Driskill Hotel. “I would like my audience to listen to the rhythm, to the synchronization in the group,” reflects Mian. “I want people to understand that it’s centuries-old but that it’s totally new. It’s totally engaging. It brings people to that one point where they can forget everything.” In addition to the traditional qawwali ensemble, the group will be joined at the end of their set by guitar, drums, and dholak, presenting a different rock-inspired frame for these devotional pieces.

Qawwali music began with Amir Khusrau, a Delhi-based master poet and musician who laid down the framework for the form. Persian and Arabic poetry met South Asian linguistic and musical traditions, and many of the poems and melodies have been passed down for 700 years. Qawwali performers keep this polyglot, multifaceted lineage alive, incorporating later works by Sufi poets in local languages like Punjabi, highlighting certain elements, refining their approach. Yet one of the main purposes of qawwali remains the same: performers bring the audience into closer contact with a higher power, to incite longing and love for the divine in surprisingly passionate, intimate terms.

Imran Aziz Mian was born into this tradition. Learning from an early age, he began performing with his qawwal father at seven, giving concerts around the world. When his father and mentor passed away in 2001, he took up the torch, leading his own ensemble and perfecting his own style. They shift between musical pieces and poetic recitations. They move between language,  between driving, dramatic song and more contemplative flights of verse.

Whatever the moment, the ensemble’s commitment and energy move audiences. “When we perform in front of audience, we are very energetic,” says Mian. “It gets so energetic that people can easily connect, even when they don’t know the language. It’s the sounds of our land, of the subcontinent. It’s just as popular and beloved as it was 700 years ago. Sufi poetry is a universal language, and our sounds are a universal language.”

This showcase is a project of FACE Foundation for Arts Culture and Education, an Islamabad-based organization whose mission is to strengthen, empower, and educate communities through the universal language of arts and through cultural interactions. Support comes from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy, Islamabad.

Event
03/16/2016

03/16/2016, Austin, TX, Driskill Hotel’s Victorian Room, 8:00 PM
12/11/201503/16/2016, Ecstatic Folk: The Wonders of Sindh Resonate in the Powerful Female Voice of Mai Nimani
Event
03/16/2016
Event
03/16/2016
Concert Start Time
8:00 PM
Venue
Driskill Hotel’s Victorian Room
Venue City, State
Austin, TX
Event Notes
FACE Pakistan Showcase
Pakistan showcase is a project of FACE Foundation for Arts Culture and Education,an Islamabad-based organization whose mission is to strengthen,empower,and educate communities through the universal language of arts and through cultural interactions. Support comes from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy, Islamabad. MORE» More»

The shrine to Rama Pir was hemmed in by the 2010 floods that besieged Pakistan. Despite the chaos, the shrine, a syncretic site dedicated to a Hindu/Sufi hybrid deity, was still hosting its annual festival. Musicians came by boat, often spending days crossing the patchwork of land and water.

Mai Nimani was among them, encouraged by her harmonium player husband. They arrived at the festival, only to be told by organizers to wait. And wait. For days. At last, one of the guests at the shrine, music researcher and artist advocate Umair Jaffar, insisted she be allowed to perform.

It proved to be a turning point in the female musician’s life: When she opened her mouth, everyone sat in awe.

Audiences at SXSW 2016 stand to have the same experience when Mai Nimani has her US debut as part of the FACE Pakistan Showcase at the Driskill’s Victorian Room on Wednesday, March 16 at 8 PM.

Mai Nimani is a young tradition bearer from the desert region of Sindh, with a raw, intense, lush voice that renders beloved Sindhi songs with persuasive heart. Her repertoire captures old songs, the mix of secular and Sufi pieces popular at local festivals and weddings.

From a musical family, Nimani is one of the first folk artists from her region to gain a wider national Pakistani, and now international, audience. She went from playing at very local events to slots at major festivals in Islamabad and Karachi, where she wowed audiences with her charismatic yet straightforward performances.

Nimani has been encouraged by her relatives to pursue music. Her husband and brother-in-law perform with her, supporting her with swirling harmonium and rolling percussion. Her voice dips into a velvety contralto, only to leap up moments later into a soaring call. Improvised ornaments rise and fall, enhancing the treasured melodies, with spot-on drum accents. For certain songs, Nimani can’t contain herself, leaping to her feet and urging her listeners to get deep into the music.

It all unites to engage and elevate, with a simple presentation suggesting centuries of musical and poetic complexity. Nimani and her band point to the often overlooked riches of Sindh’s deserts: Their syncretic Sufi wonders. Nimani’s songs reveal a side of Pakistan few outside the region have experienced. Until now.

This showcase is a project of FACE Foundation for Arts Culture and Education, an Islamabad-based organization whose mission is to strengthen, empower, and educate communities through the universal language of arts and through cultural interactions. Support comes from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy, Islamabad.

Event
03/16/2016

11/04/2015, A Defiant Beat: Overload’s Bold Rhythms Capture the Pulse of Pakistan’s Rock Heart
11/04/201511/04/2015, A Defiant Beat: Overload’s Bold Rhythms Capture the Pulse of Pakistan’s Rock Heart
Announcement
11/04/2015
Announcement
11/04/2015
Americans will have a chance to hear Overload at SXSW 2016, as part of Islamabad-based Foundation for Arts, Culture & Education (FACE)’s second Pakistan Showcase. With support from the US Embassy, the arts organization is bringing US audiences at the festival a powerful glimpse of Pakistan’s vivid, diverse cultures and music. MORE» More»

That in-your-face, LOUD rock could flourish in Pakistan comes as no surprise to Farhad Humayun, drummer and driving force behind the legendary, high-intensity band Overload. Percussion powered, the Lahore-based group channels both the brash spirit of rock and the beats and sounds of Pakistan.

Now Americans will have a chance to hear Overload in all its pounding, storming glory at SXSW 2016, as part of Islamabad-based Foundation for Arts, Culture & Education (FACE)’s second Pakistan Showcase. With support from the US Embassy, the arts organization is bringing US audiences at the festival a powerful glimpse of Pakistan’s vivid, diverse cultures and music.

Overload’s origins lie in the sounds of the country itself, its urban noise and pounding beats. “If you think about where heavy metal began, it was in industrial cities,” explains Humayun, with a smile. “The bands were in this intense, loud environment, and Pakistan is similar, in that it’s loud.”

Like many teens, Humayun picked up the acoustic guitar. But it never felt right. “It was too quiet,” he recalls. “I was drawn to the drums.”

Humayun saved up and bought his first drum kit. He was hooked. He wasn’t into the subtleties at first--that came later--but into the sheer impact of the instrument. “When you’re growing up in a place like Pakistan, there’s a lot inside you that you don’t understand. It was a suppressed environment. ,” he notes. “When I was playing the drums, I felt I could express all that I had inside.”

Humayun became a session player, and eventually met keyboardist Sheraz Siddiq, Overload’s co-founder. The two friends began jamming regularly and playing with several dholi, the raucous double-headed drum players found at many Pakistani celebrations and Sufi shrine ceremonies. The traditional percussionists spoke an obscure dialect, but the city boys found ways to communicate via rhythm and gesture. The jam sessions were hard to miss, and they caught the ear of a programmer from Pakistani national television. That performance marked their first gig, and the band was formed.

Over the years, Overload released several albums and reached cult status, in part because of its ingenious appeal to both rock and South Asian sensibilities. The band’s compositions increased in complexity, with vocals and lyrics playing more prominent roles in the group’s latest recordings. Never content to do what they’d done before, Humayun has also included Punjabi brass players popular at weddings, bagpipe ensembles, and other unexpected subcontinental sounds to his tracks. Yet the seeds of each song lie in rhythm, and Humayun often comes up with ideas by playing around on the duff (a large frame drum with metal bangles).

“Many songs I write start with the rhythm pattern,” says Humayun. “I’ll play around on the duff, which is quieter and has more bass happening. I’ll start from there and build the song around it.”

Where Overload’s songs go can vary wildly and wonderfully. Brooding electronic ear candy and expansive ballads, hard-hitting rock anthems and percussive conversations, the band’s output refuses to accept easy genre categorization.

Yet one thing unites Overload’s work: the love of the beat, and the commitment to dynamic performance. Like the dholi members of the band--Sain Nasir and Mushtaq Ahmed will be coming to SXSW in March--Humayun can often be seen playing on his feet, unable to sit still behind the kit. It’s energy with a purpose. As a frontman, he’s determined to bring the music of his homeland to new listeners, from a fresh, unflinching perspective.

“One thing I think more people need to know about Pakistani music is that we are extremely sensitive and considerate people, and that is reflected in our music to a large degree,” muses Humayun. “When you listen to the music, you need to forget everything else you’ve heard. Block out all the political stuff, then you’ll get the real vibe.”
 



This showcase is a project of FACE Foundation for Arts Culture and Education, an Islamabad-based organization whose mission is to strengthen, empower, and educate communities through the universal language of arts and through cultural interactions. Support comes from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy, Islamabad.

Announcement
11/04/2015