Farida Khanum the iconic ghazal singer of Pakistan was born in 1929 in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in the pre partitioned India. She was brought up in the city of Amristar.
She showed inclination towards music from an early age and used to accompany her elder sister Mukhtar Begum to Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan’s place where she (Mukhtar Begum) went for riyaaz (practice of classical music). She started her singing career in 1949.
Mukhtar Begum was more than a sister to Farida Khanum; he was also her first teacher of classical music. From the tender age of seven, Farida Khanum learnt khayal from her sister. Later under Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan’s guidance she perfected her singing skills.
She chose to migrate to Pakistan when India was partitioned in 1947. Farida Khanum’s first public appearance was in 1950. She later sang for the Radio Pakistan; her deep rich voice ruled over the hearts of Pakistanis and fans across the border for years.
Even today her melodious voice and her perfect rendition of ghazals remain unmatched. When on stage her majestic presence, her total command over the classical raags and her style of delivering the lyrics really overawes the audience; after all she is the Malika e Ghazal (Queen of Ghazals) named by The Times of India in 2007.
Farida Khanum was awarded the Hilal-e- Imtiaz by the Pakistani government in 2005. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh honored her with the Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Award in 2005 too.
At the age of 74, Farida Khanum still exudes the same charm and magic when she sings. Farida Khanum is a living legend, a strong pillar on which the Pakistani music industry stands. She was awarded Pride of Performance Award by the president of Pakistan in 1970.