• Sunday, June 16, 2024

Arts and Culture

Tauseef Akhtar and the glory of performing great ghazals to a live audience


By: Asjad Nazir

World-class live performer Tauseef Akhtar being most at home in front of a live audience has been illustrated by the many concerts he has delivered.

The superb singer and musician returns to the UK stage with the Ishq Karo – An Evening Of Ghazals concert at Beck Theatre in Middlesex on November 13. He will deliver his own original compositions, along with all-time classics from late great legends like Lata Mangeshkar and his mentor Jagjit Singh.

Eastern Eye caught up with the maestro to speak about his musical journey, forthcoming show, the secret of a good live performance and key advice he would give aspiring singers.

How do you look back on your musical journey?
It’s been beautiful, and what a journey! The entire process of learning at a young age from a stalwart and then performing ghazals till my early 20s, then moving into Bollywood music as an assistant to Nadeem-Shravan, and going back to ghazal singing for the past 10 years have been experiences one can only dream of. I wish I could share how it feels in a few words.

You have had many highlights, but which has been the most memorable for you?
The most memorable day was when Jagjit ji (Singh) accepted me as his shaagird (student).

Is it fair to say you are happiest on stage?
I have always maintained that the stage is where I belong to. I feel the real me comes out when I am in front of my listeners.

What has been your most memorable live performance so far?
My most memorable was when I performed along with members of the Indo-Welsh project Ghazalaw at Womex in the Land of Song show, curated by Cerys Matthews. It was the first time ghazal featured on such a huge scale and that too in front of a non-Urdu speaking audience.

What can we expect from your forthcoming show?
I am bringing a brand-new sound for this show on November 13 at Beck Theatre. The theme is love and the concert is called Ishq Karo. This is the first time I will be combining traditional instruments with a contemporary pop band on stage. Apart from my own originals, I will be performing some all-time hits of Jagjit Singh ji, Mehdi Hassan Khan saab, Lata ji (Mangeshkar) and other legends.

Which ghazal do you like performing?
I am known for contemporary ghazal Nayaki but my heart lies in ghazals which are raag-based. One such ghazal is Thehri Thehri Si, which is based on raag Jog. There is not a single occasion where I don’t look to perform this ghazal.

How do you generate so much emotion?
One can’t fake emotions in singing; it comes naturally. As we grow older, our experience becomes younger. And with experience comes expressions.

What according to you is the secret of a great live performance?
In my opinion, artists should enjoy their own performance. Never perform to impress. Focus on the lyrics and give your best to express those words through your singing. Connecting with your audience is a must and that can happen only when you are non-pretentious on stage. Be yourself. Everyone loves it.

What inspires you?
Nature inspires me greatly.

You also teach singing. What advice would you give aspiring singers?
Be patient, stay focussed and be persistent. Don’t run after success because true success is mastery over your art. Consistent learning and practice are required as there is no short cut. Do not be afraid of your weaknesses – identify them and work hard to overcome them.

Why should we come to your concert?
You should come beca­use I love my listeners, and they are my extended family. I want my
listeners to attend my show for many reasons, but mainly because this is my first big concert after the pandemic in London. This one is always going to be special. I have missed performing for you all.

What does ghazal music mean to you?
Ghazal is my soul. I connect to the divine through this art form. It brings peace to me, and I hope it does the same for others too through my renditions.

Ishq Karo – An Evening Of Ghazals is on at Beck Theatre, Grange Road, Hayes, Middlesex UB3 2UE on November 13. www.becktheatre.org.uk and www.tauseefakhtar.com

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