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— Photo Mohammad Farooq
— Photo Mohammad Farooq

Heather Schmid on her soon-to-be-out music video, Pehle Hum Pakistani Hain, Pakistan Zindabad!

Why would an American singer want to sing in Pakistan and share her feelings for this country with her people back home? Well, Heather Schmid says she has plenty of reason to be doing so.

“Back in America when we watch the news, we only see bombs exploding in Pakistan. If the Americans see this country through my eyes they’d see colourful shaadis, the most beautiful mehndi ceremonies, bhangra dances, and the Sabzi Mandi!” She tries to explain, thinking that another Pakistani would be able to understand her feelings but even I fail to understand the connection with Sabzi Mandi.

Suddenly the tall, blonde singer breaks into a chant: “Aloo aath rupay kilo, piaz paanch rupay, tamatar bees rupay…” (potatoes for Rs8 per kg, onions Rs5, tomatoes Rs20).

Her Pakistani husband, Dr Syed Rafay Mehdi, is obviously amused by his wife’s imitation while it becomes obvious to me that she has a good ear as she speaks clear Urdu without any hint of an accent.

“Heather is a very curious learner and has learnt all of this on her own. The Urdu language she picked up watching our television dramas and the vendor patter from the local vegetable and fruit market itself,” explains Dr Mehdi. “The moment we land in Karachi, she wants me to take her to the Sabzi Mandi. God knows why she is so fascinated by the place,” he shrugs.

“I always find some new fruit there that I have never heard of, never had before and which is even more sweet and delicious than the last one I had,” she cuts in. “This time it was the loquat. They are as sweet as candy this season,” she says. “I must have eaten over 300 of them so far,” she beams.

The couple were recently in Karachi in connection with Heather’s new music video called Pehle Hum Pakistani Hain, Pakistan Zindabad!

This Boston University graduate in Music and classically-trained Opera Soprano pop rock singer has been visiting Pakistan as a performer since 2005. “It was after the earthquake that year when my husband was coming here as a doctor as part of a relief team for the Northern Areas. I wanted to come too and was recording at the Paramount Studio in LA.”

“I thought she would only get in the way. I could imagine her on CNN with duct tape across her mouth, begging for help in some kidnapper’s released video clip,” Dr Mehdi laughs, shaking his head. “But she had obviously made up her mind.”

Heather came to Pakistan and then took part in a benefit show at the Rafi Peer Theatre in Lahore. “I sang two songs for the thousands of people gathered there. One of them was Jeevay, Jeevay Pakistan. Then there were more performances, including one at the Punjab Governor’s mansion and the response I got made me realise what music was all about. It was about my personal perspective as a musician living in two different worlds and integrating them to create unity. That was when I felt that I could use my voice and music to create bridges,” she explains.

The lyrics for Heather’s new song have been conceived by one of Pakistan’s foremost writers, but whose name the couple wants to keep under wraps… for now. It will also feature a music video along with a six-episode programme about the making process. “At present we are in production. The basis of the song is kind of integrating my story and why I harbour so much love for this country,” she explains.

The release date is set for Pakistan’s Independence Day (August 14) both here and in the US. The song and its accompanying music video will bring together musicians with the most amazing musical instruments from all corners of Pakistan in an attempt to fuse local culture coupled with the singer’s story of how she fell in love with Pakistan. “I have such an intimate connection with Pakistan that this song will be my best work to date. It has a deep connection to my soul and with what I truly feel,” says Heather who has gained a notable fan-following in China after turning their folksong Mo li Hua into a dance track.

“Every time I’m about to visit Pakistan, everyone from my manager, lawyer, agent and even my friends try to talk me out of it. I want to tell them about samosa chaat, the spices that feel like they will burn your tongue off and so many other great things along with the people who sincerely welcome us here. That’s a unique Pakistani trait, you don’t find it in America,” she points out.

The artist recently posted on her Facebook page and her website ‘Five things you don’t know about Pakistanis’. She lists them as “Passion; hospitality; smartness and intelligence; fun-loving and caring. I find the people here very articulate and caring too… like caring for your elders, calling them ‘aunty’ and ‘uncle’. I also find them very bighearted and giving people. We have charities too but when I was researching Islam, I was so inspired by the concept of Zakat. Charity is a part of the religion,” she observes. “It’s the humanity that draws me to this country. I am Pakistan’s ambassador, well, self-elected,” she smiles.

Comments (34) Closed

Rajiv Kaushal May 19, 2013 02:03pm

Hm... lets try to some of her music on youtube.... of almost none... she must be only super star international singer, who has music only on her channel.... non of them having 10000 hits..

Mehreen May 19, 2013 02:23pm

THANK YOU ALLAH finally someone thinking positive about my beautiful Pakistan. Heather you are a true Pakistani and a real ambassador of Pakistan. I saw your PTV global interview on Vimeo dot com. 5 things you don't know about Pakistani people is a WOW. Feel so good to read it.I love your song Save the night and Sneaky Boy. Feel so good to read Please let us know when you are coming back to Karachi Me and my friends will come to airport to greet you and be your fans.

Arshad Hydari May 19, 2013 03:21pm

As an original Pakistani and now a U.S. citizen for the past 30 years I want to congratulate Heather on her warm appraisal of Pakistan and its wonderful people. I am not surprised that she has fallen in love with not only the Pakistani that she married but the entire people of this great land.

sherafgan May 19, 2013 04:27pm

Being a Pakistani I feel u r an asset to this poorly projected country in the media. God bless you. I wish you all the best in your life always.

Palvasha von Hassell May 19, 2013 05:17pm

Oh Heather, you gladden my heart! looking forward to the song and video. What pioneering work you are doing, May you have every success in your mission.

El Cid May 19, 2013 06:13pm

What a gentle, compassionate, caring, innocent, humble good person. One in ten million in the US who thinks of Pakistan in this manner.

In the US the average American holds absolute visceral hate and loathing for Pakistan and everything Pakistani, Muslim, Islamic. And an endless refrain, even demand to carpet bomb Pakistan. Nuke Pakistani cities and Mecca during Hajj. Difficult to imagine the hate the common American carries for Pakistan in his heart but most can't locate it on a World map.

Ajmal May 19, 2013 08:00pm

Wonderful, thank you very much for sharing this story. No doubt, you are a true embassador of Pakistan.

Khan May 19, 2013 08:53pm

Wish you all the best Heather.

IndianDude May 19, 2013 11:03pm

@El Cid: "In the US the average American holds absolute visceral hate and loathing for Pakistan and everything Pakistani, Muslim, Islamic" Not only US but the world in general, and deservedly so!

True Pakistani May 20, 2013 12:16am

@El Cid: That hate among Americans is due to non stop media propaganda specifically on FOX network and some others after 9-11. That aide, a general American is a simple and passionate individual.

There are a few other musicians who have a passion for Pakistani songs. The best among them is Janice Miller. During last 20 years, I have seen her perform many times. If one is only hearing her then cannot tell if she's not a Pakistani. Here is a link to one of her videos.

HNY13 May 20, 2013 01:08am

@El Cid: Wonder why?

babur May 20, 2013 03:00am

@sherafgan: Music is unislamic......

babur May 20, 2013 03:03am

Music is unislamic. Heather offends Rasul-e-allah mohammad (pbuh) with her presence in Pakista. you get out soon. for our sake. thanks

Masila May 20, 2013 03:42am

Brave woman,married to a Muslim and living in USA, Almighty will always bless you for marrying a Muslim, live in a Muslim world, your freedom is as per Allah's wishes, Good luck and Allah guide you to best to of what you do. Follow the law of Allah and lead a clean Muslims way of life.Live one year in Pakistan and sing all your glory songs, respect the land and their religion. Be ware never cross the line.

Nadeem Mirza May 20, 2013 04:37am

@Rajiv Kaushal: Sorry to disappoint you she is Boston University graduate in Music and classically-trained Opera Soprano pop rock singer. Not like home grown (Indian or Pakistani)singers whose parents can afford to finance the video. Anyways, as mentioned in the article her album will be released soon

Roger May 20, 2013 06:54am

@Rajiv Kaushal: Disappointed by your comment. Heather is being nice to a country she likes. What does her 'popularity' or (lack of any) 'celebrity' status have to do with it? I am Indian too (I assume that you are).

Good luck to you Heather!


Sam May 20, 2013 07:29am

@Rajiv Kaushal: Rajiv, finally Pakistanis found a single American who likes Pakistan. If she really believes Pakistan to be that great then she should permanently move there and see how she feels in couple of years.

Shamim Ahmed May 20, 2013 10:58am

A true lover of Pakistan. I salute her

John Allson May 20, 2013 11:14am

"Why would an American singer want to sing in Pakistan?" Because she is a nobody in her own country. Someone--most probably her Pakistani husband--gave her the idea to get free publicity by singing in Pakistan. That's it.

Ayub May 20, 2013 12:55pm

Thumbs up Heather ,, may ALLAH bless you for everything specially keeping the truth alive ,, cheers.

Rajiv Kaushal May 20, 2013 01:34pm

@Nadeem Mirza: Nadeem, have you been through her album... she is tried everything and every place and i am just surprised that she is almost no-body and just cause of her white skin she is on national TV and there is an article here... get over your passion for white skin and what is wrong with Indian singer and pakistani singers.. we produce 100 times better than her....

sidnazud May 20, 2013 04:47pm

@John Allson: this comment is certainly written in bad taste

Jameela May 20, 2013 07:02pm

@Rajiv Kaushal: Rajiv you have only two choices to pick from. Are you jealous Indian ? or Are you Dumb? You can pick both. Heather Schmid youtube her song Save the Night has over 1.9 million hits. All I have to say Heather Schmid Zindbad, Pakistan Zindbad

Rukhsana May 21, 2013 03:26am

@Rajiv Kaushal: Rajiv it seems like you have no life. You must be one of those losers that no one wants to talk to. It seems like you an Indian who is jealous because someone is paying attention to Pakistan. Heather Schmid is a respected educated graduate of Boston University. She is an Opera singer classically trained. She is a Grammy Academy member. Most importantly she is the only one in America that has spoken great things about Pakistan. Rajiv when you had an interview about you by Harvard International review. You are as dumb and obnoxious as anyone could be. Your attack on Heather Schmid is an attack on Pakistan. Ms Heather Schmid is a Global Music Ambassador. Rajiv Pakistan is a very sad country and Heather Schmid has brought Positivity and lifted our morals. Shame on you for attacking our happiness as Pakistanis we all would like to find you and give some "serious" lessons how not to be evil to Pakistani nation. Remember attack on Heather Schmid is attack on Pakistan and you are on notice. I would request the moderator to block Rajiv and John as they are simply being abusive to entire Pakistani nation.

Ei Cid May 21, 2013 09:55am

@True Pakistani: And those other guys, you know those, our special friends and well wishers from across the LoC.

Ei Cid May 21, 2013 09:57am

@Masila: That was pompous and uncalled for.

El Cid May 21, 2013 12:09pm

@Jameela: No Jameela. Just one correct choice: He fits both of your offers.

Bab May 21, 2013 04:02pm

@IndianDude: It seems like you have done a worldwide survey? Or was your survey population inclusive of only people who like to serve like sheep and believe all the media.

ali May 21, 2013 04:26pm

@Rajiv Kaushal: Jealous Indian is the only word i can think of

ali May 21, 2013 04:27pm

@John Allson: Its not about the her singing, its about her fascination for Pakistan and the culture!!!

ali May 21, 2013 04:28pm

@Rajiv Kaushal: Why do even you guys bother to troll the Pakistan newspapers, have you got nothing else to do ??

MKhan May 21, 2013 05:35pm

@Rajiv Kaushal , Its not about her popularity or so , Its about the love she is showing to our country . We undoubtedly make the world's best singers , and we should appreciate Heather's feelings . This is how we "PAKISTANIS" think . For Most of us , her popularity dont matters . Lets for a second , Think as a human :)

El Cid May 22, 2013 02:47am

@IndianDude: No sir. Only those dudes in Amerika and you wannabes...the ladies love us.

El Cid May 22, 2013 03:02am

@John Allson: No that