- A legend Pashto singer
Khyal Muhammad, son of Spin Gul, was born in Peshawar in 1946. He belongs to the Afridi tribe of Pukhtuns. His ancestors settled in Peshawar before Khyal Muhammad was born. Khyal Muhammad has 6 brothers and 2 sisters. Khyal Muhammad has two wives, one being the daughter of pashto singer Kishwar Sultan. Of his 15 children, so far only Anwar Khyal and Wisal Khyal have chosen music as a profession.
All of his family members, including his father and brothers, have been associated with music in some way. One of his brothers [named Saif-Ul-Maluk] was a well known singer during 1960s who recorded many songs at the Radio Station Peshawar. It was Saif-Ul-Maluk who introduced the 13 years old Khyal Muhammad to Radio Station Peshawar in 1958, recording following song:
Zama Da Khkulay Zwanai Byaa,
Byaa Naway Daoraan Dhey
This record is unfortunately not available because at that time the idea of preserving music was not a priority for the station's management. This is understandable given lack of financial resources, technical know-how, and many other constraints the management faced then. The station's management is not completely innocent however, because genuine lapses have occurred and voices of great artists have been lost.
Khyal Muhammad's association with Pashto music is unique. Today Pukhtuns across the globe consider Khyal Muhammad as the undisputed Elvis Presley of Pashto music but from Khyal Muhammads perspective time have not been so gracious. In the beginning of his career, he actually lost interest in Pashto music as a singer. He was a heart broken fellow who had confined himself to playing musical instruments such as Tabbla and Harmonium for about 10 years. Part of this had to do with the prevailing atmosphere during the 1958s and 1960s when folk music [Tappa, Charbeta, and Badala] dominated the scene, and Pashtuns had fascination with singers [Ahmad Khan, Fazal Rabbi, Miramad Shah, Insaan Shah] who excelled in it. Some people even went to the extent to write letters to the station management to stop playing songs recorded in the voice of Khyal Muhammad and Hedayatullah. The situation, however, changed during late 1960s when Pashto singer and composer Muhammad Rafiq Shinwari persuaded Khyal Muhammad to rethink his music career. Mr. Shinwari knew that Khyal Muhammad had enormous talent but it needed to be properly harnessed. At the same time, Rafiq Shinwari was also interested to introduce innovations into pashto music. In particular, he felt the urgency that Ghazal had to be part of pashto music because great pashto poets (e.g., Abdur Rehman Baba, Khushall Khan Khattak, Amir Hamza Shinwari, Misri Khan Katir to name a few) had already written Ghazals that had no match. All one needed was someone to sing it with perfection.
A new phase of Khyal Muhammad's music career, thus, started when Muhammad Rafiq Shinwari recorded the following Ghazal of poet Arbab Abdul Wadood:
Os Dhey Yadoona Afsanay Khkari,
Dasay Dastur da Zamanay Khkari
The recording proved to be a milestone in many respects. It established Muhammad Rafiq Shinwari as a great composer; reintroduced Khyal Muahhmad as a force to reckon with, introduced Ghazal into pashto music lexicon, and greatly popularized Arbab AbdulWadood as a poet in pashto academic circles.
Khyal Muhammad's music career got another significant boost when he recorded the following song of Hindko-Pashto poet Mr.Younis Qiyasi for pashto film Darra Khybar:
Mung yu Da Khybar Zalmi,
Pukho Zamunga Shaan Dhey
Since then, Khyal Muhammad has recorded over 100,000 songs, winning laurels for his excellent performance. I do not think there is any pashto award that he has not won since 1980. As a person, Khyal Muhammad is probably the most humble person I have ever seen for a person of this eminence. I had the opportunity to meet Khyal Muhammad twice at Kishwar Sultan's residence, and on both occasions Khyal Muhammad was a perfect personification of humbleness and a gentleman second to none. Think about it what I mean - due shortage of space at Kishwar Sultan's residence, he would just sit on the floor to vacate his seat for me. I am glad I am writing this note about him - he is the Elvis Presley of pashto music.
SOURCE: AnwarGul's conversation with Khyal Muhammad and other published sources.
...he felt the urgency that
Ghazal had to be part of pashto music
because great pashto poets
Abdur Rehman Baba, Khushall Khan Khattak,
Amir Hamza Shinwari, Misri Khan Katir
had already written Ghazals that had no match.
All one needed was someone to sing it with perfection..