Abida Parveen: ‘I’m not a man or a woman, I’m a vehicle for passion’

Nosheen Iqbal in The Guardian:

ScreenHunter_970 Feb. 01 12.36“My culture – our culture – is rich in spirituality and love,” she says, in a densely poetic Urdu. “Sufism is not a switch, the music isn't a show – it's all of life, it is religion. If I want to be recognised for anything, if we should be recognised for anything, it's the journey of the voice. And that voice is God's.”

Smoothing herself elegantly on to the sofa of a hotel suite in Manchester, Parveen gives a beatific smile. It would be eerie if it wasn't so soothing; anyone who has watched her on stage knows that this magnificent projection of calm often ends up a wild, sweaty, ecstatic mess. She has admitted to hallucinating while deep in performance and she regularly sends her audiences in Pakistan and India into swaying raptures, swooning and fainting being quite standard reactions. Her first US tour was in 1993 and she has since travelled across the world to perform at sold-out venues.

Björk counts Parveen as one of her greatest musical influences; composer John Tavener – who she performed with last Sunday night at Manchester international festival – said he had a gut-wobbling, primordial experience watching her in rehearsals for their one-off show together.

More here.