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Ahmad Zahir: A matchless music maestro

Ahmad Zahir: A matchless music maestro

Jun 14, 2015 - 18:05

KABUL (Pajhwok): Ahmad Zahir -- the Afghan music maestro -- died on this day 36 years ago, but his mesmerising songs and melodious voice continue to win more and more fans with the passage of time. In a word, he has left indelible marks on the country’s music history.

Ahmad Zahir was killed on June 14, 1979 in a traffic accident on the Salang highway north of Kabul. Rumours surrounded the cause of his death, with some saying he was killed by a high-ranking official of the then communist government.

His fame as a singer of great renown went far beyond Afghanistan’s physical boundaries, having a fan following outside the country. He had been ultra-cautious in choosing lyrics for his songs from illustrious Persian poets like Saadi, Hafiz, Rumi, Bedel and others.

He had recorded only two video songs for the Afghanistan national television, but more than 500 songs for Radio Afghanistan. Zahir also gave many unforgettable concerts -- the envy of any singer -- at home and abroad.

Some Afghan vocalists and fans gathered today around his tomb in the Shuhada Salehin graveyard in Kabul, where they paid respects to the outstanding songster on his death anniversary. His work will continue to inspire present and future generations of singers.

Safiullah Sabat, a mature poet and composer in his own right, told Pajhwok Afghan News Ahmad Zahir remained an unmatched artist. A singer of his caliber was unlikely to be born in the history of Afghanistan’s music, he believed, calling the virtuoso performer a close friend.

“There is a whole world of difference between Ahmad Zahir’s magic and today’s art. Our youngsters lure smaller audiences because they aren’t dedicated enough. True, they produce a lot of songs and give a string of concerts, but they still haven’t found their way to the kind of stardom Zahir had,” he remarked.

One of the reasons why people listened so diligently and persistently to Zahir even today was that he was different from other singers of his generation and those appearing on the music landscape later on, he noted.

Mushtaq Bromand, head of the Ahmad Zahir Cultural Centre, said the legendary artiste paid special heed to poetry and literature in his songs that made his work eternal. An icon of Afghan music, he was the son of Abdul Zahir, who served as minister of health and prime minister of Afghanistan between 1971 and 1972.

Zahir went to the Habibia High School in Kabul in the early 1960s. He sang and played the accordion in a band mainly consisting of his friends and classmates. The band later became known as the amateur band of Habibia High School and performed on celebratory occasions like Nowroz, Eidul Fitr, and Afghan Independence Day.

After graduating from the Teacher Training College in Kabul, he went to India to get a degree as an English instructor. Eventually, however, he decided that music was his true profession. On the music scene for a decade, he recorded more than 30 albums.