‘I still get butterflies in my stomach': Abida Parveen ahead of her show with Atif Aslam in Abu Dhabi

The legendary mystic singer, Abida Parveen, returns to the UAE, this time teaming up with the Pakistani singing sensation Atif Aslam for 'Symphony of Stars' on Saturday, June 1, at Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi

By Ronak Kotecha

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Published: Thu 30 May 2024, 4:57 PM

Abida Parveen, a name synonymous with Sufi music, continues to captivate audiences with her ethereal voice and humble demeanour. Despite her legendary status, the iconic singer remains free of any starry airs or the usual trappings of a celebrated artist. Sitting casually in her hotel room in Dubai, the 70-year-old veteran singer from Pakistan exudes a child-like excitement and warmth, as she speaks about her upcoming performance in Abu Dhabi. In an exclusive chat with City Times, she shares insights about the show, her illustrious career, and her views on today’s music scene.

Surprisingly, despite decades of performances, the legendary artist admits she still experiences a flutter of nerves before taking the stage. “I feel exactly how I felt for the first time,” she says with a laugh, revealing that she still gets butterflies in her stomach. This nervousness, she believes, is a sign of an artist’s dedication and passion. “A little bit of nervousness and discomfort are healthy for an artist. But once I am on the stage, I just say a little prayer and begin my performance,” she explains.

Abida Parveen is no stranger to the UAE, having performed here multiple times. However, this show marks the first time she will share the stage with another Pakistani icon, Atif Aslam. Speaking about this collaboration, her face lights up with genuine admiration. “He is a great human being and an artist with very deep thoughts,” she says, reminiscing about their previous collaboration on the song 'Pardadari' for Bazm-e-Rang, a series of Sufi and spiritual music back in Pakistan.

The anticipation for Saturday’s performance is palpable, as these two powerhouse performers are set to enchant the audience with their electrifying presence and soulful music at BluBlood Middle East’s ‘Symphony of Stars’ - a must-watch musical extravaganza that will feature their charbursting music through the years.

Talking about the show itself, she says, “I plan to be fully present in the moment for the audience. The energy and connection I feel from them are what guide me. The rest is in God's hands.”

The UAE holds a special place in Abida Parveen’s heart. “This is the country where you find Pakistanis, Indians, and so many other nationalities living in harmony and enjoying Sufi and Dargahi music,” she says with a smile. Yet, it’s not all work and no play for the celebrated performer. “I do go shopping, but I only buy what I need,” she quips, appreciating Dubai’s beauty and cleanliness. “Everything here is clean and true to itself,” she adds.

Abida Parveen’s ability to stay relevant and popular with today’s GenZ audience is a testament to her timeless appeal and adaptability. Shows like ‘Coke Studio’ have played a significant role in bridging the generational gap. “Kids today are very mature. I can only thank the almighty that the children of today understand and appreciate my music, like our song 'Jhoom Jhoom' which was loved by the children,” she says. Music, she believes, is a universal language that transcends barriers. “Music is an expression of both pain and divinity,” she adds.

When asked about today’s music, she expresses her admiration for various genres, including the vibrant Punjabi folk dance and music form, Bhangra. She names Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Atif Aslam as her favourites, calling their work Zabardast (fantastic). “Look how popular they are,” she exclaims, while also paying homage to legends like the late Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. “There is prosperity in their personality and in their homes, and God’s grace that they have been able to perform so beautifully for so long,” she reflects.

Revealing the secret behind her mesmerising voice, Parveen shares that she takes her riyaz (practice) very seriously even today. She also keeps sipping on lukewarm water to maintain a healthy throat. These practices have allowed her to maintain the quality and depth of her voice, ensuring she continues to touch hearts with her music.

The celebrated singer also took a moment to express her appreciation for Khaleej Times. “I remember the last time when I was performing here, Khaleej Times had a full-page coverage of my show. I have saved it in my archives. It’s a very respected paper and an asset in today’s times,” she says with genuine warmth.

As the conversation drew to a close, it was evident why Abida Parveen’s passion for music and humble nature continue to win the hearts of her fans. The upcoming performance in Abu Dhabi promises to be a landmark event. On June 1, the iconic duo of Atif Aslam and the revered Abida Parveen will grace the stage at Etihad Arena. This eagerly awaited event, 'Symphony of Stars,' will be a spectacular showcase of their most popular songs, bringing together powerful voices and talents that have resonated with fans across the region. The concert promises an unforgettable night of music and celebration, with special guest artists adding to the allure of this grand musical experience. It’s an event that is poised to truly capture the spirit of their remarkable musical journey.

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