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Arieb Azhar
Hometown: Islamabad, Pakistan
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Arieb's musical journey started as a child when he discovered that
when he expressed himself vocally, people would pay attention. Because
both his parents were involved in television and theatre he was
exposed at an early age to different musical expressions. According to
him the early folk and classical music he listened to influenced his
later love for traditional music. He picked up the guitar in his teens
as a simple acoustic accompaniment for his voice. During this period
of his life he was greatly influenced by the humanist poetry of Faiz
and Sheikh Ayaz, and by the humanist and revolutionary music and
poetry of Latin America, and he often performed and sang for left wing
student functions and political rallies in Karachi and interior Sindh.

At the age of 19 he went off to Croatia, just as it was breaking away
from Yugoslavia, and spent the next 13 years of his life there. In the
city of Zagreb, Arieb was exposed to Balkan and gypsy music and his
musical discoveries led him to perform on the streets, in pubs and
clubs, concert halls, and festivals, with musicians from Croatia,
Bosnia, Macedonia, Bolivia and Ireland. He was one of the founders of
the band "Shamrock Rovers" with whom he recorded two albums of a
unique interpretation of Celtic music.

Finally in 2004 he returned to Pakistan in order to immerse himself in
the local music. According to him, "I felt I needed to reconnect with
my roots in order to continue my musical journey. In spite of (or
perhaps because of!) social repression of all kinds, the street
schooling that artists go through in Pakistan is very intense, and
only the most dedicated artists can survive. Here one is forced to be
highly self-critical and brutally honest about oneself. And those who
survive this process become great musicians!"

Always nurturing a love for poets of the Sufi and humanist tradition,
Arieb has now found an expression that he can proudly call his own. He
recorded an album with IC records in Karachi, by the name of Wajj,
which includes the immortal lyrics of Bhulleh Shah, Khwaja Ghulam
Farid, and Mian Mohammad Baksh, as well as more contemporary lyrics by
Sarmad Sehbai. The last track on the album is a Bosnian folk song also
recorded with a rich orchestrated sound that uses both traditional and
modern elements.

Arieb's music came into the limelight of the Pakistan music scene
because of his input in seasons two and three of the celebrated Coke
Studio project. He has toured around Pakistan and also performed at
esteemed festivals such as the World Performing Arts Festival of
Lahore, the Lok Sanjh Festival of Amritsar-India and the InMusic
Festival of Zagreb-Croatia.

Arieb is currently finishing his next album, which, besides the
well-known humanist poets of the sub-continent, will also incorporate
contemporary poets such as Sheikh Ayaz, Arshed Bhatti and Akhtar
Qayum. According to him, "True music is the union between the
individual and the universal; a release, rapture, celebration, quest,
lament of the human spirit. If I am able to touch that in moments of
my life, I consider myself fortunate!"

Arieb Azhar
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