By Reza Taj and Daiyar
His magnificent melodies and revolutionary songs brought fame to this tall, charming young man. The emerging star, Hameed Sakhizada, is predicted to easily secure a prominent position in the country’s music world. Already starting off his professional music career, Sakhizada is set to release his first album soon — likely around the Eid.
Sakhizada’s Hazaragi pieces in Afghan Star not only brought renown to the Hazaragi music tradition, but also to him as a musical virtuoso.
This newborn voice of Hazaristan is winning the hearts of thousands across the country after he became prominent during the second season of Afghan Star, where he finished second.
He recently had a journey to Pakistan for the recording of his new Album, likely to be released as a surprise to his fans on the Eid. Hazaristan Times brings you an exclusive interview with Sakhizada. Enjoy!
Hazaristan Times (HT): Tell us a little about yourself, your childhood and your education.
Sakhizada: I was born in 1984, in Karte Sakhi, Kabul, to a poor family. I am the youngest child of my parents. My father was a carpet-trader. My childhood witnessed the destruction of the war-ravaged country, during the “Jihad” years. After my 5th birthday my family migrated to Pakistan as refugee, like thousands of other families. Due to severe financial crisis in my family and the hardships we faced as refugees, I could only continue my studies till middle school at Noor High School, Quetta. I joined my father in his Bakery [Naanwayee] to lend him a hand in meeting our financial needs. The days as refugee were with many difficulties and tremendous hardships.
HT: How were you introduced to the world of music?
Sakhizada: Unlike most other singers who are products of a musical tradition in their families, there had been no singer in our family, nor had there been any interest in such a career. But I was interested and devoted to music since my childhood. I remember imitating my favorite singers when I was just 8. I used to play dambura late at night in my father’s bakery after finishing the day’s work.
HT: Were you encouraged by your family?
Sakhizada: Music was considered something like taboo in most families at the time when, as I mentioned, “JIhad” was everywhere. So the conservative outlook of society was a hurdle in this regard. So I was not encouraged by my family at all; rather, my father used to criticize me on playing dambura. It was my friends who encouraged me a lot when we used to go to picnics on the mountains to play dambura, since the society and family didn’t have positive views on this.
HT: Whom did you learn music or dambura from?
Sakhizada: Initially I had not joined any professional organization to learn music. I used to go to Ahang Arts, upper floor of Tanzeem, to practice dambura with Manzoor Ali Lali, Mir Hussain Changazi and others. Later when I took it a more serious interest in music, I went to Ustad Liaqat Ali Latifi, a prominent music teacher in Quetta, Pakistan. I started learning classical music professionally from Ustad Latifi. I am a student of his until now.
HT: When did you perform your first song?
Sakhizada: I was nervous to face the stage the first time. My friends took me to stage, insisting to perform. The first time i came on stage was Omagh, an annual festival arranged in Tanzeem-e Nasl-e Nau Hazara Mughul, in Quetta.
HT: Tell us about your likes in Indian, Hazaragi and Dari music?
Sakhizada: In Indian music I am fond of the legend, Muhammad Rafi. I like Ustaad Tawakuli’s Hazaragi songs. I am fan of Dawood Sarkhosh. In Dari, I listen to Farhad Darya.
HT: What do you do in your spare time?
Sakhizada: I regularly go to Dehkada [Hazara Dehkada Foundation, an organization of Hazara artists in Kabul, working on Hazaragi music]. Most of the times I am among friends. I like playing snooker.
HT: When did you and family return to Kabul?
Sakhizada: My family repatriated back to Kabul in 2003. But I continued my music classes and practice in Quetta, Pakistan. Later in 2005 I moved to Kabul and joined Hazara Dehkada Foundation under Ustad Tawakuli, a shining name in Hazaragi music. Dehkada is an organization of all Hazaragi singers, including prominent ones like Aman Yousifi, Syed Anwar and others.
HT: How did you get on Afghan Star?
Sakhizada: The process of Afghan Star had started. I asked my teacher, Ustad Tawakuli, and other friends for suggestion whether to participate in the competition. They suggested and encouraged me to participate. I got into the process and reached the Top 20 Round. Later it was all in the hand of viewers as to whom they wanted to see as their Star through their SMS votes.
HT: Tell the readers about the experience of contesting Afghan Star. Any memorable stroies?
Sakhizada: Afghan Star was a nice and unforgettable experience as it introduced me to the world. During the contest I tried to do my best singing the viewers’ favorite songs. It was them [viewers] who voted me to 2nd position. I do not prefer positions because I think when people like what I sing, that is more than any position for me.
Coming to the memories of the competition: the Third Round of the competition was very tough. We did our best. I can never forget any moment of the process. During the voting days of the Third Round, a girl called me from Mazar. She asked, “Sakhizada, here in Mazar other competitors are distributing SIM cards among people to gain votes. why don’t you?” I said, “Let them do so. I neither have the financial means to do so, nor would I like to buy the title of Afghan Star. If people like my songs, it is more than stardom for me.
I can never forget the crying voice of the girl. Her emotions would always be respectful to me.
On the other hand, I was dismayed when the situation got political. Contestants were considered as representatives of their ethnic groups. People started taking it as an election, vying to elect the candidate from their ethnicity — talent was totally ignored.
At par with some common people, the political bigwigs and Government officials started lobbying for their favorite contestants. This disappointed and almost broke me.
I also pay my special thanks to all my supporters and fans around the world and inside the country who voted for me. My special thanks go Tolo TV for organizing Afghan Star.
HT: When are you going to release your album?
Sakhizada: Because of the strong demand from the people, I moved to Pakistan right after Afghan Star to record my new album. Its audio recording is complete. I hope to release it soon, likely on the Eid. It includes Hazaragi and Dari songs. Nowadays i am working on its video clips.
The Album is not titled yet. It includes the two famous songs of Afghan Star, “Mother” and “Ya Mawla Ali.” Other songs are Hazaragi and Dari.
Editor’s Note: Dear readers, accept our apology for not disclosing the full details of Sakhizada’s new Album because of legal restrictions.
HT: What are you future plans?
Sakhizada: I will continue entertaining people as long as they appreciate my talent. I also do not want to be limited to the people of Afghanistan; I want to sing for the world.
HT: Any message for the readers of Hazaristan Times?
Sakhizada: My message for everyone is to never loose hope and spirit. I would like to tell all those financially poor people, who are deprived of a realistic chance at their dreams, to give everything their best; the results will be positive.
You can — and I will — prove to the world that being poor will not deprive us of reaching the peak of our potential.