Ustaad Farida Mahwash is a female singer from Afghanistan. She is known as the ‘voice of Afghanistan’ and was the first woman to have been given the honorary title of ‘Ustaad’ in 1977. Ustaad means master, yet such a term is often mainly associated with male teachers, so giving this title to Farida makes her special and shows that anyone can be considered a master, regardless of their gender!
Farida was born into a conservative family. Her mother was a Quran teacher who recited the Quran with a beautiful voice, and that inspired Farida from an early age. After completing her studies, Farida was recruited to sing for Kabul Radio in Afhganistan. The director of Kabul Radio, Ustaad Khayal could see how talented she was and encouraged Farida to pursue singing as a career. She then took up lessons in North Indian classical music and was also taught by Ustaad Saragang, who is also part of this collection. Her stage name, ‘Mahwash’ means ‘like the moon’.
Farida Mahwash was forced to leave Afghanistan due to the political turmoil of the 1970’s and 80’s. She took refuge in Pakistan, later being granted asylum in the United States. Mahwash reunited with other musicians in 2001, forming ‘Ensemble Kabul’. Farida has since performed in concerts all over Europe and the world.
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