MEHDI HASAN NIAZI – A SINGER, SONGWRITER, AND COMPOSER
Mehdi Hasan Niazi is an Indian classical and light vocalist, songwriter, and composer and belongs to the Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana: one of the oldest and illustrious Gharanas of India. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Mehdi Hasan Niazi started his music training at the age of 7, from his grandfather, late Ustad Ghulam Husain Khan, who passed all the major attributes of the Gharana to him.
Mehdi Hasan Niazi has set a record by performing the “Bada Khayal” at the tender age of 9, which is rare in North Indian classical music. He has shown his versatility by singing Ghazals, as well as playback singing in multiple languages. Mehdi Hasan currently resides in Hong Kong and has been performing abroad, along with his father, Ustad Ghulam Siraj Niazi.
Here is Mehdi Hasan Niazi in a conversation with GOGO Magazine.
1) When did your journey as a musician begin?
Well, my musical journey started at the age of 7; that’s when I started my formal Indian classical vocal training under the tutelage of my paternal grandfather, late Ustad Ghulam Husain Khan Sahab, my maternal grandfather, Padma Shri late Ustad Ghulam Sadiq Khan Sahab and my father, Ustad Ghulam Siraj Niazi Sahab. Alongside, I also learnt from my legendary Uncle, Ustad Ghulam Abbas Khan Sahab.
2) Tell us more about the experience of belonging to the illustrious Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana.
I consider myself very fortunate that I was born in a musical family and heritage of more than 400 years of history in music. And, without a doubt, it is an honour that I’ve been bestowed with the privilege of being under the worthy guidance of my father and grandfathers, with the blessings of my great-grandfather, Padma Bhushan late Ustad Mushtaq Hussain Khan Sahab – the first recipient of the Padma Bhushan and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.
3) Which has been your first track?
Surprisingly, my very first track was a Nepali song – “Ghaat”, and it was my playback debut. The composition and music were directed by one of the legends of the Nepali music industry, Shri Nagendra Shrestha Ji. Uncle Nagendra is a part of our family and I’m honoured to have performed and shared the stage with him numerous times as well here in Hong Kong.
4) Who has been your inspiration?
I’d say, my parents, are my biggest inspiration. I couldn’t be more grateful and thankful for all the struggles, hardships and obstacles they overcame to provide my elder sisters and me with the best life possible. I am what I am today, all because of my parents.
5) Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I guess I’ll leave that up on time! As of now, I’m not worried about my future timeline. I’m solely focused on my college studies with music alongside. So, let’s see where my journey takes me!
6)How would you describe your music?
Luckily, my father has always taught me not to hinder my versatility, whether it be singing Indian classical, other allied forms of light classical, Ghazals, singing in multiple languages, composing and writing my originals, etc. Hence, “versatility” would be the perfect term to humbly describe my music.
7) Which has been your most memorable song or project?
“Hum Saath Hain”, which was a collaborative project initiated by my cousin brother, Zaman Khan (to whom I’m very thankful), was a fun project overall! The project consisted of the likes of Dr Palash Sen Ji of Euphoria, Nitin Malik Ji of Parikrama, Bollywood playback singer – Akhil Sachdeva Ji, my elder brother, Bhuvan Bam (BB Ki Vines) who is a part of our family, and many more notable and top-notch artists!
This particular project is a memorable one and very close to my heart, due to the fact that as artists, we all came together to spread a message of unity and positivity through a song during COVID-19, despite the fact that many of us live thousands of miles away from each other, and yet, we were able to make a huge impact. That’s the power we hold as artists!
8)What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
If any of you replicate whoever your inspiration is in the music field, please do it with your own twist and add a pinch of your own sound, as it stands out to the audience and displays your originality. Also, be consistent. Consistency is key!
9)Share some of your achievements with the magazine.
No achievement comes close to sharing the stage with one of the pioneers of Indian classical music and the God of Santoor, Grammy nominee Padma Vibhushan Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma Ji. It was an incredible honour and privilege to share the stage with him and seek his blessings.
10)How was life in quarantine?
No doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic was a very challenging time for all of us. My father and I had quite a number of concerts and events lined up, as well as a South-East Asia tour in 2020, but we obviously had to cancel all our plans.
Although, life in quarantine wasn’t as brutal as I thought it was going to be, mainly because of my habit of utilising my time as much as possible. I kept my creative process on run and released quite a number of song covers and music videos, including a Ghazal cover – “Mujhe Tum Nazar Se”, which was a tribute to Ustad Mehdi Hassan Sahab, and it ended up going viral in Pakistan and among the Pakistani diaspora around the world!
All in all, life in quarantine wasn’t very bad. But, now that things are getting back to normal, I really look forward to sold-out shows and touring again!
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