PESHAWAR: Popular Pashto folksinger of the yore days Gulab Sher Ustad passed away here on Monday at 91.
He was laid to rest at his village, Mullazai. He is survived by four sons. He was bedridden for the last four years due to multiple health complications.
Local artists and singers attended his funeral. However, no official from the provincial culture department attended his funeral.
Mr Sher shot to unprecedented fame in early 40s when a Peshawar branch of Kolkata-based music company ‘His Master Voice’ recorded his maiden Pashto song. He was introduced to radio Pakistan, Peshawar by Sabz Ali Khan, folk singer and music head in 1955.
“Most of my songs could not be preserved at PBC, Peshawar as I used to perform live in early 50s and 60s. Peshawar radio has preserved only 50 of my super hits,” the senior singer had told Dawn a year ago in an interview. According to experts, Mr Sher had sung around 50,000 songs.
“Amin Jan, a local Khan, drove me on his cycle to Peshawar radio station where Ahmad Khan and I were auditioned. Among 12 others, we were selected as young folksingers. I was given Rs15 as royalty for my first-ever song on radio Ma Darta Makhkay Pa Rastai Da Meenay Jam Ekhay Wo,” he had said.
The nonagenarian folk singer was a resident of Mullazai village. He did not come from a music family but he had learnt intricacies of music from the local amateur folksingers.
Laiqzada Laiq, poet and former station director of PBC Peshawar, said that Gulab Sher Ustad had literally reigned over hearts during his heydays. He had a unique velvety voice and contributed thousands of beautiful songs to Pashto music treasure trove, he added.
“Mr Sher had worked with almost five generations of Pashto folksingers. Khatir Afridi’s ghazal ‘Sta Manzal Manzaloonu Kay Yama’ is still on the lips of every Pakhtun listener,” said Mr Laiq.
Hussain is the only one among Mr Sher’s family who wants to follow in his legendary father’s footprints. “My father was a great asset for Pashto music and he will remain alive in the hearts of his fans,” he said.
Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2016