Women in Music: The gems of Pakistan music industry

Pakistan’s Music industry has produced some great female artists that have left a mark, which can’t ever be erased. Hustling through the conservative society they kept charging towards success, breaking gender stereotypes on their way. These female veterans acted as pioneers by paving the way for the female artists of today which includes the likes of Hadiqa Kiyani, Humera Arshad, Zeb Bangash and Sanam Marvi to name a few. Since Women’s Day is just around the corner, Libas Now brings you few of such females who worked hard to earn their position in the industry with their voices that will echo forever.

Noor Jehan

First and foremost, we have Malika-e-Tarranum; Madam Noor Jehan. She has given her voice to over 20,000 songs along with which she made more than 40 films approximately. She was considered the most prolific singer of her time. Her career spanned over six decades. She is still considered as one of the most influential singers of all the time. She has been honoured with almost all of Pakistan’s most prestigious awards; Pride of Performance, Tamgha-e-Imtiaz and Sitara-e-Imtiaz. According to Indian singer Asha Bhosle, “The world will never see a singer like her. Just as people have not seen another Mohammad Rafi and Kishore Kumar there would never be another Noor Jehan.”

Farida Khanum

Malika e Ghazal; Farida Khanum gained recognition at an early age when she joined Radio Pakistan and gained recognition. In 1960’s, president Ayub Khan invited her to a public recital and soon after she became the most sought after female ghazal singer in Pakistan. The ghazal she is most associated with is Aj Jaanay Ki Zid Na Karo penned by Fayyaz Hashmi. She made a guest appearance in Coke Studio season 8 after a long hiatus where she revisited the same ghazal.

Iqbal Bano

She sung many songs for films and was considered a maven for bringing Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Poetry to life. She became an icon instantly when she sang Faiz’s patriotic anthem Hum Dekhen Gay in protest against the arrest of the poet wearing a black Sari defying the ban of Sari. She was also awarded pride of performance.


Awarded with Sitaara e Imtiaz, Reshma won hearts with her strong vocals and powerful voice. She is among Pakistan’s most popular folk singers. She has contributed to the Pakistan music industry with some culturally rich numbers like “Dama Dam Mast Kalandar” and “Wey main chori chori teray naal laayyan akhhian“. She became a popular name across the border and was invited to meet then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. She also ended up doing some major collaborations with Bollywood.

Abida Parveen

Known as The Living Legend and The Queen of Sufi of music, Abida Parveen began her career by performing at Dargahs and Urs initially. It wasn’t until 1973, she got her first breakthrough when she became an official singer at Radio Pakistan and gradually rose to fame. Now she is considered one of the finest Sufi singers both locally and internationally with mostly sold-out venues. Being a seeker of spirituality through music she said in an interview, “The songs purify the soul of a human being, the human is so involved that he has left God. The songs bring us near to God, near the Almighty, so that the human soul should be purified and satisfied.”

Munni Beghum

Munni Begham’s contribution to Pakistan’s music industry mainly includes ghazals. She began her career in the 70’s and rose to prominence by releasing album after album of ghazals. Recipient of Pride of Performance award; Munni Begham’s some of the hit ghazals are Mareez-e-Mohabbat Unhi Ka Fasana and Awaargi Mein Had Se Guzar Jaana Chahiye.

Nayyara Noor

Nayyara Noor started her career as a playback singer for TV serials and films through which she gained popularity for her contribution to the music industry. She has given her voice to many ghazals penned by various poets like Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ghalib and Nasir Kazmi. She won many awards for her ghazal Ae Jazba-e-Dil Gar Main Chahoon which was written by Behzad Lakhnavi. Despite having no formal training or musical background she still managed to leave her mark on the hearts of people.

Nazia Hassan

Often called the Queen of Pop in South Asia, Nazia Hassan made her singing debut with an iconic song Ap Jaisa Koi in 1980. Her debut album Disco Deewane was one the best selling south Asian album of its time. Her English single Dreamer Deewane made her the first Pakistani to make it to the British charts. She was also the recipient of many awards like Pakistan’s Civilian Award, Pride of Performance and a Filmfare Award, which made her the youngest and the first Pakistani winner.

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