April 13th, 1997. The bright yellow lights dim in the SMU's McFarlin Auditorium, Dallas. The murmuring crowd grows silent. A booming voice announces a girl still unknown to many in the Pakistani crowd in Dallas: "Ladies and Gentlemen, our next singer was the only Pakistani who performed in the 'National Lottery Live in England.' She has done programs for BBC2 and ITV, and is one of the best female singers on the Pakistani Pop music scene. Please welcome Hadiqa Kiyani!" Many do not know what to expect, but when the dark-brown haired, 24 year old from Lahore bounces onto stage in light blue jeans and matching shirt, the crowd wholeheartedly applauds.
To those of us who saw her live as part of the "World Tour 97" concert, it is obvious that Hadiqa Kiyani loves to entertain. She stepped off of stage more than a couple of times and danced with the audience amidst their cheers. She explains, "I am a fanatic about music, I go crazy on stage. You see, I really like to interact with the audience."
Sitting on one of the backstage benches, she emanates an aura of self-confidence. Her voice is velvety, and has a fresh, melodious quality even as she speaks. Looking into the future, she says, "Well, after all of this touring, I'll be working with Bally Sagoo. I'll be doing a few English songs and some Punjabi Bhangra music. Along with that though, I'll be working on my solo album, too."
The melodies on her debut album, "Raaz" were made by herself and her brother Irfan, who owns a audio visual studio by the name of "Sights and Sounds" in Lahore. Of her brother, she says, "Mujhe jo support mili hai family mein, its basically from my brother." But her mother also was a big help. "My father died in '75 when I was just three, I was a little girl," she says, "I don't even remember that, but my mother, who's in the education line used to say, "Do your activities, but better not disturb your studies." Following in her mothers footsteps, Hadiqa graduated from Canard College, Lahore and then got her master's in Psychology from Government College Lahore, where her mother was a gold medalist.
But she admits that the road to success was not without difficulties. As a woman, it is doubly as hard: "I had a pretty tough time, in the beginning, zaahir hai, is tarha ki society humari hai is mein aapko stand layna parta hai apnay liye." But a hard worker, she explains, "I don't find myself as a perfect singer, nobody can be perfect ... baat ye hai ke aap ko mehnat karni parti hai and then you have to maintain that."
"Sargam", the movie that introduced her voice to the Pakistani music world, was coupled with controversy. On TV, we heard the songs in Hadiqa's voice, but the soundtrack for the film was released in the voice of a more established and known singer from across the border, Asha Bhonsle. "So, what's up with that?" I ask. "Well, Adnan had the audio rights and the International as well as local release was in Asha ji's voice," she explains: "But the film songs were mine." What is the ultimate shocker is that Hadiqa was unaware that after recording all the songs, that they were going to be sung by someone else. "I didn't know this, and I had to let everybody know this, ke bhai yeh gaanay dubara se kowi aur singer gaayein gi," she emphasizes. But always optimistic, Hadiqa says, "Well, anyway, I got fame out of it."
In fact, her fame is reaching an International level. In England, out of 10 million people, she was selected by lottery to perform on the biggest program on BBC I - "National Lottery Live." "I was one of the first Asian singers and everyone was shocked, they were like who is this girl, she is from Pakistan!" she laughs: "In England, all of the Asians used to call me the 'National Lottery Girl.'"
So what message does the "National Lottery Girl" have for us? "My message is that you should have a goal, and you should stick with that goal. If you have any talent, you better promote that. And stick on one line and carry on your studies and stick to your career. And if you think you are doing well and if you think that you are on the right path then stick to it and prove to yourself that you have something. Come to the front and let everybody know that you have something in you."
An amazing girl, truly, is Hadiqa Kiyani, one who has shown that you really can do anything if you put your mind to it. Amazing, and really pretty too! But sorry guys, a little bird (named Fakhar) told me that she's engaged!Asma Ahmad