Soulfully Sufi

Singer-composer Hesham Abdul Wahab on notes from around the world

July 13, 2016 02:40 pm | Updated 02:40 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Hesham Abdul Wahab

Hesham Abdul Wahab

It is not unusual for reality show stars to fizzle out after a point. But there are a few who have come out with flying colours. Hesham Abdul Wahab is one such singer who is making himself heard with his music.

His journey from a contestant on a reality show to a record artist with a renowned label is nothing short of a dream run. Hesham made his debut in Mollywood with his tracks for Salt Mango Tree. The youngster is on a high these days with the release of the second music video, ‘Bulleya ki jaana’ from his Sufi album Qaddam Badha (Step Forward), produced by British musician Sami Yusuf.

Qaddam Badha was released in 2015 after three years in the making and the first video from the album, ‘Aa mil yaar’ had come out last year. There are 11 tracks in the album with songs in Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Malayalam and English. We have included Sufi songs and also verses written by Rafeeq Ahamed, Aekata Warrier and Shiyas from India and Faez Choudhary from Pakistan. Four songs have been released and music videos of two more songs will be made,” says Hesham.

Looks like Hesham’s collaboration with Sami was destined to happen. Appearing in a music show, he sang Sami’s ‘You Came to Me’ and shared the video on his Facebook page. Sami loved his performance and got in touch with him. Later when he was doing his graduation in audio engineering from SAE Institute, Dubai, he was picked up by Sami as a record artiste for his label Andante Records, which released Qaddam Badha .

Hesham says that it was not a planned move to make his debut album multi-lingual. “I firmly believe that music shouldn’t be bound by languages. That eventually led to the inclusion of songs in different languages,” says 25-year-old Hesham. While Sami has composed the title track, other songs have been composed and sung by Hesham. “It wasn’t easy though, especially handling the diction. Different versions of these Sufi songs sung by greats such as Ghulam Ali and Abida Parveen helped me. ‘Bulleya ki jaana’, for example, has another version by Rabbi Shergill. So I listened to how they pronounced each word. I also got help from my guru, Maitrayi Sanyal, and Faez, a lyricist of the album,” he says.

Brought up in Riyadh, Hesham traces his musical lineage to his paternal grandfather, the late Abdul Hameed, who used to be a qawwali singer in palace courts. Hesham's grew up wanting to become a composer and idolising A. R. Rahman. “It was wonderful meeting him when he came to work with Sami for Majid Majidi’s film, Muhammed . While Rahman sir has inspired me, Sami has moulded and influenced me,” says Hesham.

He has sung for films such as Thira and Ohm Shanthi Oshaana and composed for an upcoming Hindi movie, a Tamil-Hindi children’s flick, Mera India , directed by Pratheesh Dipu. It has songs written by Mehboob and Na. Muthukumar. In Malayalam, his songs will be heard in debutant Rojo Prasad’s Vicharavedi Vayanashala .

Before signing off, Hesham says that he enjoys stepping out of his comfort zone. “My albums and music productions are heard by those in Morocco, Turkey and Indonesia whereas my film songs have a different target audience. Therein lies the challenge and therefore I am not bothered by any competition around. I am an introvert. I shut myself in a room while composing and that lends freshness to what I create,” he says.

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