Hadiqa Kiani (Urdu: حدیقہ کیانی; born 11 August 1974) is a Pakistani singer-songwriter, and philanthropist.
Kiani rose to fame in 1995 with her debut album Raaz. Kiani received instant fame and was nominated and won numerous awards in Pakistan as well as International awards. Since her debut, she has released five albums, all receiving similar fame. Kiani was named “Best Pop Female Singer” in Pakistan. Her single, Jannan, was the fastest-selling single of 2009/2010 and her album Aasmaan achieved similar success. In 2009, Kiani became a judge on Pakistani reality television shows Pakistan Idol and LG Awaaz Banay Star.
Kiani was born in Rawalpindi, Pakistan and grew up in Lahore. She is the third of three children to Khawar, a principal of a local government girls school. When she was three years old, her father died from natural causes, and thus the family were left to fend for themselves. Kiani has spoken about the difficult experiences of not having a relationship with a father during her childhood. Her mother, was nevertheless, very brave throughout their upbringing, she added. Khawar began working as the principal of a government all-girl school while Kiani and her older siblings were growing up. After her father’s death and the resulting loss of financial support, the family had to use the school as a temporary home. Kiani and both her siblings had a talent for music, and so her mother enlisted her in the Pakistan National Council of the Arts. Kiani then performed in front of a crowd of a thousand people at Liaqat Memorial Pindi Hall.
At an early age, she began showing an interest in singing and music. Whilst living in Rawalpindi, she went on to study at Viqar-un-Nisa Noon Girls High School Pindi. She represented Pakistan in International Children Festivals in Turkey, Jordan, Bulgaria, and Greece, winning various medals along the way. She also used to be on Sohail Rana’s Rang Barangi Dunya; a weekly musical show for children. Kiani thanked her family for being supportive in her singing career, citing them as “patient and enthusiastic with a heart of gold”.
The family moved to Lahore when she was in eighth grade. She enrolled at Kinnaird College and due to her exceptional academic performance, she earned a Masters degree in Psychology. Kiani still dreamed to become an singer, and signed on to Lips Records in 1994.
1995: debut album Raaz
Kiani began recording her debut album in late 1994. The album titled Raaz was released in mid-1995. Kiani had written, composed and produced most songs for the album whilst recording in Karachi Studios. The first single of the album Jeevan, for which she penned the lyrics, was released alongside the album. The album spawned a string of radio tunes and generally had positive reviews. Kiani set the record of becoming the second female singer after legendary Pakistani pop singer Nazia Hassan to join Pakistan music industry and recognize and portray an image of pop music around Pakistan. The success of Raaz was highlighted by being mentioned in an article which recapitulated the major events in Pakistan’s music history. After two years, the album had sold over 700,000 copies, domestically, whilst gathering over 1 million copies worldwide. Kiani released her second single Yaad, following the success of her first single. The single was well-received, though was not a seller, unlike her first single. She released four more singles, neither benefiting her album.
1998: second album Roshni
In 1998 Kiani began working on her second music album, Roshni (Light). The album was dedicated to her nephew Sonu ( her elder sister’s son ). Kiani takes good care of her nephew and considers him a significant person in her life. The first single off the album, “Tu Nawa Tu Sada” was released before the album was released. Kiani then released a second single, “Inteha-e-Shauq”. It was designated the official theme song for the Pakistani Cricket team for the Cricket World Cup that year. Both songs, being patriotic, gained favorable reviews, however “Inteha-e-Shauq” was much more successful for Kiani. On 1 November 1998 Kiani released `Roshni’. Initial album sales were powered mostly by “Inteha-e-Shauq”, which made the final listing of the album along with “Tu Nawa Tu Sada”.
Kiani’s third single off the album, “Dupatta” was an instant success. Its video was inspired by the sci-fi film The Matrix and was the highest-budget video in Pakistan in 1999. “Dupatta” also gained more popularity than any other single Kiani had released before from her debut single. The song is also listed in the Twenty Best Pop Songs Ever for Pakistan, where it is positioned at #15. The success of the song was attributed to its quasi-bhangra rhythm with fat, funky techno beats and Kiani’s “dreamy-meets-husky vocals” which made the results “stunning”. In the wake of Dupatta’s success Kiani soon went on to be widely accepted as the country’s leading female vocalist.
Capitalizing on “Dupatta’s” success, Kiani went on to release two other moderate hits, “Roshni” and “Woh Kaun Hai”. She then delivered once again by releasing a sixth single off the album, “Boohey Barian” which went on to become an even bigger hit for her than “Dupatta”.
Kiani’s massive success in 1999 was highlighted when she won PTV World Viewer’s Choice Award for the best female singer in 2000… She also released a seventh single off the album, “Intezaar”.
`Roshni’ sold over a million copies in Pakistan alone. Kiani’s image also became a signature look in cities like Karachi. The album is listed in “The 20 Best Local Pop Albums Ever” for the country, positioned at #15. Kiani is just one of two female singers in the entire list. The other one is Nazia Hassan. The review stated
This is the album with which Hadiqa finally overcame her reputation of being a folksy Nazia Hassan imitator. Glided across various different genres in a single album, from millennium techno to crisp FM Pop and the usual Folk-Pop thing. The brilliant production continues to be the highlight here.
In another list called “The 10 Best Local Pop Albums…ever” Roshni was placed at number 9. The review also highlighted Hadiqa’s status rise by stating
However, on the excellent and crisply produced “Roshni”, not only did Hadiqa manage to ultimately become the next Nazia, but the way she so effortlessly glided through the many distinct genres she explores on “Roshni” (from Neo-Filmi-Pop to FM-Pop to Techno), elevated her status to being one of the post-modern Indo-Pak pop scene’s leading “pop diva”.
Kiani’s success got her signed by “UniLever” for celebrity endorsement of Lipton Yellow Label in 2001. In 2002, she was signed again by “UniLever” for Sunsilk Shampoo. Throughout 2001 and 2002, she performed live concerts in US, Canada, UK, Middle East, Far East, Australia, Norway, Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey on multiple occasions.
2002: third album Rung
Kiani released her third album Rung (Colors) in September 2002, for which she’d chosen the album title herself. Prior to Rung’s release, Kiani sang an OST for a drama called Cheray. The song also made the final listing on Rung.
The first single released from Rung was “Yaad Sajan”. The song helped the album sales propel throughout September and August 2002 and was an instant hit. It did not however make it as big as “Dupatta” or “Boohey Barian”, but generally got great appreciation.
Where Kiani released multiple videos for her previous albums within months after the album release, she did not do so with Rung because of a personal crisis in her life. Her marriage was seeing problems. Issues with her marriage saw her being removed from the spotlight for the rest of 2002, and early 2003. Rung’s sales slowly declined since no other single had been released. Her divorce was finalized in March 2003. She decided to take a few months off from her music career then. As a result, Rung’s sales seemed stalled.
She returned to promote the album in June 2003, almost 10 months after she’d released “Yaad Sajan” with a new single “Ranjhan” and several stage performances and tours around the country. She then released other singles off the album throughout 2003 and 2004. These included “Jogi Bun Kay Aa”, “Mahi”, and “Dholan”.
Her newer singles saw her videos seeing a drastic improvement in standard and concept. In “Jogi Bun Kay Aa” Kiani plays various roles of women, including a traditional Japanese, an Arab, and a tribal woman. She played the role of a vampire in her video for “Mahi”. The video was also sending the message to not judge people of different faiths and casts, and to not stereotype. It was the highest budgeting video of the year 2003. Despite the setback from her divorce, Kiani’s album sales picked up through 2003 and 2004. In 2004, she received the Best Female Pop Singer Award by Indus Music, the first 24 hour music channel of Pakistan. Asim Raza won an award for best video for directing her video Mahi.
Rung got mixed reviews from experts. Overall it did not capitalize on the momentum she generated by Roshni. Many argue that this is because Rung has more mature slow paced ballads than Roshni, while some say the turmoils of her personal life. However Kiani still remained a strong figure in the industry, despite the setback. Her name was mentioned in a list called “Pakistani Pop’s 10 most Influential Acts Ever”, where she positioned at number 9. She is also one of just 2 female singers in the list, with the other being Nazia Hassan. A UK based Magazine declared Kiani as the 22nd greatest music maker of South Asia out of Top 50, also mentioning on how she raised the standard of music videos in the country.
2006: single Mehr Ma
Kiani began working on a single-song project with UK based producer Khiza on his album Loyal To The Game, in 2006. The lead single Mehr Ma featured Kiani’s vocals. She also appeared in the music video directed by Sohail Jawed. The song was a massive success in Pakistan, and was seen as a great turn for Kiani after her ballads in Rung. Kiani performed the single at Lux Style Award’s and was considered the best performer of the night in reviews. The success of the single reached to a point, that it succeeded her successful single Boohey Barian in mid-2009.
2007: fourth album Rough Cut
In 2007, Kiani released her fourth studio album, Rough Cut, a collaboration with Aamir Zaki. The album had seen frequent delays in its release both due to Kiani’s busy schedule in 2005 and 2006 and because Zaki had moved to Canada while the album was being recorded. With the release of `Rough Cut’, Kiani became the first mainstream Pakistani artist to release a complete English Album. It is also her only album thus far which her website has officially put up for sale online.
In April 2007 Kiani released the first single for the album, titled “Living This Lie”, a song which talks about the stressful life of being a star. The same week, Kiani was named “Hotstepper of the week” for a Karachi-based magazine. The magazine also stated that ultimately, as long as Kiani is around, there is still hope for women in the patriarchal music world of Pakistan.
Kiani’s second single that was released from the album is titled “All The Same”. Rough Cut failed to perform on the charts and did not sell as much as Kiani’s older works. Many experts have said that since an overwhelming majority of people in the country do not understand English the album did not sell as well. It has not yet been confirmed whether Kiani will release a third single from the album. However, there are rumors that the track “City of Fallen Angels” will get a video release in which Karachi will be the city referred to in the song.
The single titled “Living This Lie” got nominated for “Best English Song” for “The Musik Awards” in 2007. Due to the emergency situations occurring in the country in 2007, however, the awards were called off. Kiani also got nominated for Best Female Singer in the same awards.
2009: fifth album Aasmaan
In June 2009, Kiani switched record labels to Fire Records and released a new album titled “Aasmaan” (translated: sky) on 17 June 2009. It is Kiani’s first album in local languages since her release of “Rung” back in 2002. In the album, she sings in Urdu, Punjabi, Hindko, Pashto, Persian, and many other dialects. One song in the album has vocals featured by her elder brother (and manager) Irfan Kiani. She has also collaborated with UK producer JKD(Jawad Hyder)& rapper NAS-T on two tracks of the album, “Sohnya” and “Dil Mera”. She also sings a Pashto duet with Pashto singer Irfan Khan.
The first single of the album is “Sohnya”. The official video of “Sohnya” was premiered a day before Kiani released the album. Since then the song+video has stayed on the Aag10 Charts for over a month thus Kiani received a Shield from Aag10 for being the Artist of the Month.
Within the next month Kiani released her second single off the album titled “Tuk Tuk”. The video was directed in India by Sajan Agarwaal. This was Kiani’s first video ever to be shot in India. Rightfully, the video communicates a strong Bollywood theme; Kiani told her fans of her Facebook site that the video was a Parody of “A Filmy Muhallaha”.
The album has stayed Number One on the Vibes Charts of INSTEP Magazine for one year now consistently. At the end of 2009 Aasmaan was named the Best Album of 2009 according to sales volume, popularity and internet downloads.
Every single released from the album `Aasmaan’ has reached number one. “Sohnya” was number one AAG10 Charts for over a month and was titled the best Pop Song of 2009 according to The Nation. “Tuk Tuk” has been Number One on UK’s Prime Tv Charts. “Az Chashme Saqi” has been Number One on PlayTv Charts for quite some time. At the end of 2009 it was declared the third best music video of 2009 according to Koolmuzone.
Then came February 2010, Kiani had collaborated with relatively unknown Pashto singer Irfan Khan for a remix of his song “Janan”. The song has become Kiani’s biggest hit till date and some say that it has even topped “Boohey Barian”. “Janan” had reached over one million views on YouTube within a few months of its video debut. Janan was even mentioned in the Los Angeles Times, it was the first Pakistani pop song to ever be mentioned in the newspaper. Kiani nailed the Pashto accent and has fully embraced the Pashto culture. Some Pakhtoons even started to call her Hadiqa Pathani, Kiani then started a massive trend in Pakistan of embracing Pashto culture, girls started to wear Pashto style dresses imitating Kiani’s looks on the red carpet etc. The song broke barriers, Kiani being a Punjabi singing a Pashto song and appealing to not only Pakistani Pashto audiences, but to the world wide audience. “Janan” has brought Kiani back to an “Icon” status in Pakistan for the youth.
Worldwide performances and awards
Her increasing popularity was further highlighted in 1997 when Kiani became the first Asian singer ever to perform on the British National Lottery Live BBC1 (estimated viewership 16.6 million). Later on she worked on two more shows with Bally Sagoo for BBC 2 and ITV before moving to perform in the US. Her US tour covered 15 states and a show in Canada too. The same year Kiani performed on several other international events such as “Celebration Hong Kong 97”, alongside other singers like Lisa Stansfield,
et Wet Wet, Michael Learns to Rock, All-4-One and The Brand New Heavies. By the end of the year she became the first Asian female singer ever to be signed by Pepsi Cola International. She is also the second female in the world to achieve this, with the first being Gloria Estefan.
Kiani did not release any single to promote Rung sales in 2005 and 2006. However, she continued to build on her success by touring heavily these years. Most of the time she was the official representative of Pakistan appointed by the government.
On 11 August 2005, Kiani performed in Nagoya for the Prime Minister of Japan Mr.Junichiro Koizumi. Kiani was invited to perform in Toronto on 14 Aug 2005 by The Pakistani Consulate. She performed in Houston on 13 August 2005. The show was at Sam Houston Race Park, and it was attended by over 15000 people. Chief guest of the show was Sheila Jackson Lee who is a member of the US House of Representatives. Kiani was asked to take out the lucky draws of PIA and she announced the names of the lucky winners. She then performed at the “Mets” in “Shea Stadium” New York on 18 August 2005. She also performed at the Pakistan Day Parade in New York on 28 August 2005.
She performed in Malaysia on 2 October 2005 at the newly built Convention Centre in Kualalampur downtown. The Honorary Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr.Shaukat Aziz was the chief guest of the show. The show was part of Expo 2005 in Malaysia. Important business and political personalities from both countries attended the show. She sang a Malay song, not a Pakistani song.
Kiani represented Pakistan on the 25th Anniversary of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) in Turkey. Islamic Countries such as Azerbaijan, U.A.E, Iran, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Turkey, Pakistan and Yemen took part in the celebrations. The event was organized by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. She performed at the AKM concert Hall on 23 November 2005. Among the audience were musicians from various countries. The biggest surprise for the audience was when Kiani sang “Sanalama” (Turkish song of Living Legend “Sezanaksu”). She told the audience that as Turkey stood beside Pakistan in good and bad times, she wanted to convey the love of Pakistani people for the Turks. She also told that she visited Turkey as a child star in 80s and represented Pakistan in the International Children’s Festival in Turkey so had beautiful childhood memories associated with Turkey. The audience gave her a standing ovation. At the end of her performance, The Mayor of Istanbul presented a bouquet of flowers to her. After her performance she received invitations for Pakistan to participate in the upcoming Art festivals in various countries such as Iran, Syria, Qatar and Lebanon. During her stay in Istanbul she officially visited various historical sites in Turkey and conveyed the love of Pakistan for Turkey. Her performance in Istanbul was important news in various Turkish News papers.
Kiani performed in China for the Chinese 2nd Premier on 21 Feb 2006. She performed for President George W.Bush on 4 March 2006. Commenting on her performance, Bush said he liked her accent and wanted her to perform in US. She performed for the Crown Prince of Brunei Al-Muhtadee Billah Bolkiah on 29 May 2006.
Kiani performed for Mrs.Laura Bush on 21 September 2006 at The Kennedy Convention Centre, Washington, D.C.. She closed the year by performing for HRH Prince Charles on 30 October 2006, and the Chinese President on 23 November 2006.
On 23 March 2006, Kiani was awarded the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan, one of the highest civil awards of the country, in aknoledgement of her services in the field of music and for shining an encouraging light on the country for over a decade. The award was announced on 14 August 2005 but the ceremony was performed on 23 March of the next year.
Pakistan Idol and television work
Kiani will appear as a judge on an upcoming TV show on Geo TV called Pakistan Idol. The show itself has seen airing date delays due to the crisis in the country in the Winter of 2007 and is still in production. As of 1 August 2008 Geo TV, announced that the show and its auditions have been put on hold until further notice. Kiani stated in a interview, “I am very excited to be a judge and hope I can fish out some incredible talent in Pakistan!. In January 2009, Kiani joined the LG music project and it was announced that she would judge a new musical talent show in Pakistan called “LG Awaaz Banay Star” alongside Salamat Ali and Nizar Lalani. With a successful first season run, Geo announced that the show was to close down, due to political reasons in the country.
In March 2007, Kiani was one of the many artists featured in a widely popular track called “Yeh Hum Naheen”. In this song, various Pakistani artists joined to send out a message that the stereotype of Pakistanis is not correct and that they oppose again Terrorism. The song also conveys an anti-terrorism sentiment in the music video and the campaign which Kiani is heavely involved with. Other artists in the song are Haroon, Ali Haider, Ali Zafar, Shafqat Amanat Ali and Strings. The song has been picked up by international stations like Fox News and BBC and has amassed over 70,000 downloads.
Kiani frequently appears in festivals, concerts and reality shows. Despite constant fame, Kiani keeps her personal life as “much as private it can get” and only talks about certain topics, usually involving music. Kiani has appeared on popular chat shows including AAJ TV’s Bean Bag show, ATV’s A Morning with Farah show, Geo’s Brunch with Bushra and most recently on Good Morning Pakistan during Spring season 2010.
Kiani works with Edhi Foundation and is involved with many charities, including Muslim Hands. In August 2010, Kiani and her siblings worked with local Pakistanis to donate clothing, water, food and shelter to the flood victims of Pakistan. Kiani also appeared in Geo Tv’s telethon Pukaar along with Pop star Ali Zafar to appeal for donations. In collaboration with Pakistan Army, Kiani made visits to Multan Relief Camp, Basti Kalraywala, Muzaffarabad and other flood hit areas, personally distributing goods to the affectees. On 8 November 2010 Kiani was appointed the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Goodwill ambassador. At the moment Hadiqa is busy helping construct housing facilities in Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Nowshera is one of the worst flood hit areas in the country
In April, Kiani did a photoshoot for Gul Ahmed’s 2010 Summer Collection Chairman Latha with son Naaday Ali. Naaday was seen playing plastic drums with mum Hadiqa.
On June 2010, Kiani released the music video of “Be With You” from album Rough Cut on her website. The video features three models, searching for their true loves. The song was part of Kiani’s first English language album, and won the PMTV Award for Best Music Video in September 2010.
In early 2010, Kiani announced that she began work on her sixth album, which she hopes to release in Summer 2011. Kiani also stated that she has been writing songs independently for the album and that the album would consist her of singing songs in Chinese, French and Spanish.
On 17 October 2010, Kiani released her first single for Pakistan Flood’s victims called “Aasmaan”. It was an adaptation of Legendary Sezen Aksu’s song “Sanalama” and the video featured Kiani’s visits to various flood hit areas. Hadiqa also joined an organisation called Superstars for Flood Relief later on, which aims to get Pakistani and International stars on board to help create awareness of the devastating floods and motivate more people to come forth and donate. Living legend Abida Parveen has been part of this organisation since the very beginning. Other bands and stars like Strings, Zeb and Haniya, Laal, Shafqat Amanat Ali and Pop star turned Nasheed singer Junaid Jamshed have also joined the cause.
Kiani is single and resides in Pakistan with her mother, Khawar, who has been paralyzed since 2006 and an adopted son, whom she named Naaday Ali, which means the qualities of Hazrat Ali. Hadiqa has had a special liking for this name ever since she first heard it. Hadiqa adopted Naaday in 2005 from Edhi Home, post-Earthquake. “I need a child and the child (needs) a mother,” she said when adopting the child. On the same day Kiani made an official announcement of the adoption on Geo News political talk show, Capital Talk. Later that year, Hadiqa got married to a UK based Afghani Businessman, Syed Fareed Sarwary. Their Nikah was a private event and only very close family members were present at the occasion. However, the marriage did not work out and in 2008 Hadiqa filed for divorce.