Looking at her, you cannot imagine that this young, beautiful girl would even know a few tracks by Abida Parveen, could she possibly even know who the legendary Reshma is? A girl her age cannot possibly understand the work of Ustaad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan… Can she? Quratulain Baloch, or 'QB' as she is popularly known among her fans, took everyone by surprise by doing the cover of 'Ankhiyan Nu Ren De' – a famous song originally sung by Reshma. She shuts her eyes and concentrates while dedicatedly crooning lines from a popular track by the crafter of modern day qawali and everyone in the audience stands mesmerised. Sufi–folk is not her only forte, QB can do equally good covers of tracks by Adele. Quratulain Baloch has been a refreshing change from the newer, younger lot of female musicians. Her textured voice soon got noticed and she became part of a popular music show. Soon after, her voice could be heard on television accompanying a recent play titled 'Humsafar'; with this she reached a larger audience and there has been no looking back. QB recently performed in the third Bridal Couture Week held in Lahore and there's no denying that the lady does not only have an enchanting voice, she has a strong presence on the ramp as well! Here are a few excerpts from a recent chat with her:
Being from a non-musical background, how did music and singing happen for you?
Ankhiyan Nu Ren De' was the start. I was introduced to Saad Sultan to come up with something different and we end up covering the everlasting track by Reshma ji.
Mainstream music is not the easiest profession for women in Pakistan. Did you ever feel you were being typecasted as just another one hit wonder when you started?
No! I knew I had something unique going on with my talent and we rarely have female singers in our music industry who are recognised because of their contributions to music. Our public breaths music and they know the real deal. It boosted my confidence when the cover of Reshma ji's song was a YouTube hit right away. Real stuff and real talent doesn't go to waste whether it's a female sensation or a male.
Being in the genre that you are, how much vocal training do you think is necessary? Have you had any professional training as well?
Well to enhance and improve a natural talent, training is a must. I have no training whatsoever but I'm very much in a go for a professional training.
What were the initial hurdles that you faced while entering this particular field? How has the journey been for you till now?
So far I must say it has been smooth and it is amazing how I am stepping up with time.
Tell us a bit about your debut album. When will it be released and what kind of music should we expect?
Album is due very soon. It will be a mixture of sufi, folk and pop.
How did your participation in a music show happen for you and what was the experience like?
Goher Mumtaz approached me for collaborating with him in this season. And producers approved it right away after the first jam. I call it one of the best experiences of my life because that is the only platform available right now which has gone worldwide. I am proud for being a part of it!
Since the collaboration between you and Jal worked wonders, will you be performing with them in the future? What other stars do you wish to perform with?
It was fun working with them. If something more interesting pops up, I might, but I would love to collaborate with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Strings.
Which local and international musicians inspire you the most?
Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Kelash Kher, One Republic, Lykke Li, Oh Land and Strings.
Since your first cover was originally sung by Reshma, was your voice compared to hers at any point?
Even if it was, I strongly believe no one can beat Reshma ji.
Being blessed with such an earthy, textured voice, don't you think it'll be an injustice to perform only in a few selected languages? Should we look forward to a Dari, Pushto, Sindhi or even an English track from you?
A lot is in the pipeline and disclosing it at this point might not be smart. My work and future upcoming projects might explain everything about that. Lets keep our fingers crossed!
Also, don't you think sooner or later you might end up being typecast as well? Will you be doing some light pop/fusion music as well?
I will explore more of my voice once I am established enough to do so but you can consider it being in the pipeline.
How was the experience of recording the soundtrack for 'Humsafar'? What kind of a response have you been getting?
Honestly, when Waqar told me about this song, back in my head I was thinking, How can I be little close to how Abida Parveen ji has sung it? An artist like me who has no training, cannot be anywhere near to what she has been doing for all her life. I was overwhelmed at the opportunity and tried to put my best out there. Result? I had no idea people would love this version and embrace it with open arms. They love it! Credit goes to Naseem Turabi sahib who wrote such a beautiful and reality based poetry that everyone can relate to it. Even I can relate to it!
Congratulations on winning the youngest achievement award! Tell us how this happened for you and whether you were expecting something like this so early in your musical career?
The moment I stepped into this music industry, I knew i had a long way to go but an award? Come on! It's been barely 8 to 9 months being a part of music! However, it make sense because I was given the award for the Youngest Achiever Of Pakistan! It's the love and courage I get from my family and my fans that I am legible for an award at such an early stage of my career.
How do you feel performing live? Also, what was your first live performance like?
I'm a live singer. Its more fun to perform live because I had options and the public and fans can better identify who can sing and who cannot. I absolutely love performing live. My first gig was in Lahore at one of Ali Azmat's concert and the audience went nuts. I was stunned because it's not that easy to perform live, especially impressing our audience, because they are the best judge.
What surprise do you have in store next? What should we be expecting from you in future?
My first album is due soon and there are other projects that are being done. I am doing my best to live up to the expectations people have with me.