Earlier this week, a not-so-familiar face created a stir on social media when he uploaded a video of himself singing Yeh Shaam by Vital Signs. People all over Pakistan, including renowned musician Abbas Ali Khan who shared the video on his own personal account, were quick to note how much the man’s vocals resembled those of the late Junaid Jamshed (JJ).
To find out more, The Express Tribune got in touch with this on the aspiring singer, who identifies as Rahim Khan from Peshawar. Khan shared that he had uploaded the song’s cover as a way to remember JJ back in April. “I just recorded a cover of the song and uploaded it. Thanks to the social media, especially Abbas (Ali Khan), it has now become viral over the last two days and people all over Pakistan are listening to it,” he said.
The talented youngster also commented on being compared to someone of JJ’s stature. “I’ve been told that since childhood and it’s my honor. But this is my natural voice. If you hear my songs, most of them are in Pashto. I sound exactly the same in Pashto,” Khan said. “JJ has been an inspiration since childhood. And I love his voice and work. But this is my natural tone and it’s a gift from the Divine.”
As it turns out, Khan isn’t exactly a newbie as he has been performing locally for years. “I actually started singing as a child artist on PTV in 1992,” he revealed. “It was through a Pashto-language program Sthorriwhere I used to recite naats and poems by Ghani Khan and other poets on the show.”
The 33-year-old continued performing in school programs and religious events as he grew older. “Then I got into Pakistan Air Force but continued my musical journey. I did LLB from Peshawar University and it was during that time I formally, professionally got into music.”
The Peshawar-based vocalist admitted that while everyone tells him he has a God-gifted talent, he did receive some formal training for a couple of years from a music teacher at his school. “We hired Mr. Wilson, my music teacher from school. He’d come and teach me music at home. It’s interesting because my Qari Sahab taught me Quran right after music class and would often hear me sing.”
Khan says he is inspired by Frank Sinatra and Nina Simone and would often practice singing by listening to Luciano Pavarotti’s operas. And when it comes to Pakistani music, he has always been a fan of Vital Signs. “The first album I ever bought was of Vital Signs,” he recalled.
Over the years, Khan has established himself as a regular performer in Peshawar, singing at regional events and on Pashto TV channels. He has even churned out a sizeable portfolio of music, with tracks such as Lambay (his first track ever), Khumaar and Khwaab Ban Kar. In fact, his song Khudaya was even picked up by Mehreen Jabbar for the TV drama Daam in 2010. Most recently, he wrote Yun Urr Chala in honor of JJ.
Asked if he intends to pursue a full-time career in music, Khan said, “I do both. I am an advocate at Peshawar High Court and also continue making music on the side and performing locally.”
Check out Khan’s tribute to JJ (and his other music) here: