Social media shaped my career: Waqar Khan
Post by on Sunday, October 31, 2021
Exploiting his talent during his schooling, Waqar Khan from a remote frontier village Karnah tehsil in Kupwara district is a singing sensation in the Kashmir Valley. Currently, Waqar is the most sought after singer for all high profile shows being held in the valley.
He shifted to Srinagar for early schooling at Police Public School where his teacher noticed his beautiful voice during school functions. After receiving appreciation from school staff, Waqar realised he needed to polish his raw talent to emerge successful in music.
Today, the young singer is a household name in Kashmir and is popular on his social media platforms.
In an interview with Rising Kashmir's Misabah Bhat, singer Waqar Khan walks us through his beautiful journey in music.
What made you decide to pursue a career in music?
My musical journey began when I was in school. I used to participate in school functions. My teachers in the school were the ones who noticed that I have a good voice and I can sing very well. I believe every individual has a hidden talent which needs to be discovered. I started doing live concerts from a very small age.
It all started as a hobby and with time this hobby of mine became a passion for me. I realized music is something in which I can excel, and I should opt for it professionally.
Did you receive any training for singing?
Yes, I have received training in Delhi from Ustad Abdul Aziz Khan Sahab from the Patiala Gharana. I took training in Indian Classical music from him. Initially, my training started from school only. I had some music teachers there who used to teach me.
The response to your song “Kali Kali Zulfon” which was originally sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan has been overwhelming. How does that make you feel and tell us more about that song?
Initially, I was not doing music on YouTube or any other social media platform. In 2018, I started to do it commercially on different platforms.
I decided to record a song on YouTube and wanted to release it so that people can listen to it. I selected “Kali Kali zulfon” because this song is sung by my favourite singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. When we recorded the song and we set a target like we will get maybe some thousand views and some subscribers after this song. We kept it nominal and achievable. But the response we got for this song was unbelievable, people liked this song, and it was unexpected. Within months, we got millions of views on YouTube for that song.
It was indeed a great achievement for me, as a newbie it was overwhelming because I had just recorded my first song which within no time became a hit. The love and response of people motivated me to do better in future and I never stopped and looked back from that point of time.
What projects have you done till now?
I have done songs in Urdu, Punjabi, Kashmiri and Pahadi. Some of them are Maayi Chani, Taqdeer, Gham Kha Geya, Salam Jolda, Tussi Nikka Nikka Hasde Ho, Chalo Maante Hain, Dil-e-umeed, Kaali Kaali Zulfon, Naseeba Khol De Mera and many more.
Every month I release a song for my listeners. I have done a big collaboration recently which I cannot reveal now because it has not been released yet.
What kind of singer would you classify yourself as?
I would say Sufi and Folk. My primary genre is Sufi, I believe Sufi literature connects you to the people and it disseminates a message of love and peace in the society. Music is a universal language; it does not matter to which community or place you belong to. Music is the same for everyone. So, I am a Sufi singer primarily and I keep trying Folk as well.
What has been the best performance of your career so far?
In 2015, a song of mine grabbed the attention of a producer based in Delhi. He called me to Delhi for a live concert and performing there was a big deal for me as I had no idea how to perform in between thousands of people but it turned out to be well.
It was a memorable performance for me and because of that performance I got a scholarship by the name “Ethno India” which is an international workshop in which best musicians and singers participate from every part of the world. I was amongst the five singers who represented India in that workshop.
Who has been your inspiration?
There are many but if I talk about musical inspiration, it is Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. I grew up listening to him. Some local artists from Karnah as well, their stories are inspiring because when they used to sing there were no resources available. They worked hard on our language and folk music.
What are your goals as a singer?
I want my language to get recognized throughout the whole world. My primary focus is the regional language Pahadi. Kashmiri music is becoming famous in many places. I, as a singer, want to do everything that will make Kashmiri songs heard in other places as well.
What struggles did you face during your journey?
Struggles began at home only. It was difficult to convince my parents because they had a notion that music has no future. And on top of that I had already left my government job as a teacher in Karnah for the passion of music. There was a lack of awareness, they had no idea what music is all about. I had to fight with them to chase my dreams but now they are supporting me as they see I am doing good in this field.
Also, there were no platforms available, but things got better because of social media. It is not easy for every singer to go to Mumbai, stay there, struggle and then get a chance. Social media has made things easier, and it has been a great benefit to us.
So, whatever I am today is because of social media. I am active on social media platforms, and I interact with my listeners there. I have around 24.2k followers on Instagram.
Tell us something about your upcoming projects?
My singles are getting released and I am going to release a Punjabi song “Pyaar Mohabbat” and a song in Urdu language “Kashmir” and “Maa”. In the song Kashmir, we will highlight Kashmiriyat, in which we will talk about what Kashmir is all about and its beauty.