Islamabad: With his charming voice, and passion for music, Pakistani teenager Nazakat Ali Shad is determined to carve a niche for himself in the music industry.
Being visually-impaired, he might not be able to see, but his talent shines as brightly as a sparkling star on a dark night.
The fact that he can sing in eight languages has already made young Nazakat a celebrity among his friends and family. “I can sing in Urdu, Punabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Balochi, Kashmiri, Bengali and Arabic,” Ali Shad told Gulf News in an interview.
Although he had been participating in musical events since an early age, his singing career took off after he posted videos of himself singing on social media.
He has a considerable fan following on Facebook where he regularly interacts with fans, recording live Facebook videos in different languages and earning the praise of many.
“My fans not only admire me, but inspire me to become a better singer each day,” he says.
Music has been an important part of Ali Shad’s life since he was six. Now at the age of 17, he has become an inspiration for young musicians as well as a beacon of hope for many visually-impaired people who have fewer idols in Pakistan.
Ali Shad, who is blind from birth, is the youngest among six siblings. He feels proud to have a family that supports him and wish to see him become a famous musician. “I feel so lucky” he exclaimed joyfully.
“My parents, brothers and sisters, my whole family is my strength and my support. They are always there to motivate me to achieve my dream.”
The musical journey for Ali Shad began at Al Maktoum Special Education Centre, in Islamabad, which has been paving opportunities for blind children since 1982.
Ali Shad says he was fortunate enough to be in the company of supportive teachers who powered his passion.
“I took music classes from my teacher Ayub Bobby for eight years who nurtured my talent.”
These music lessons were life-changing as he transformed from a budding singer to a talented musician.
“Sir Bobby has been my biggest source of inspiration. His caring nature and motivational words have made me what I am today,” Ali Shad said sharing his deep regards for his mentor.
When asked about his favourite musicians Ali Shad said, “Pakistani singers Sara Raza, Shafqat Amanat Ali and Shuja Haider are close to my heart.”
Someday, Ali Shad wishes to record a song with one of his favourite singers.
“I wish to do a duet with Sara Raza which I would like to see featured on a fim with two of my favourite Pakistani actors Ahsan Khan and Maya Ali,” he said with a gentle smile as he pictured the whole scene in his mind.
Talking about his music interests, Ali Shad said “I always turn to Pakistani music for inspiration, but I love to listen to Arabic and Bengali music.”
While youngsters today mostly fancy rock and pop music, it is interesting to learn that Ali Shad prefers the South Asian genre, Indian classical music. “The melodic structure, rhythm and spiritual element in Indian classical music in outstanding which is why I chose this genre,” Ali Shad says.
“I want to be a professional playback singer and learn Indian classical music in future,” Ali Shad told Gulf News, sharing his dream.
The 17-year-old has faced some harsh realities of life too when he was rejected by music reality shows because of his disability. “Being blind has nothing to do with my talent. My disability has never come in the way of my dream and never will,” the determined and passionate singer declared.
Ali Shad urges people to recognise people of determination based on their talent and not their physical disabilities. “We only seek to be judged on our talent, that is all,” he said.
Sheer persistence, and an indomitable spirit led Ali Shad to perform on national TV and radio. “I have performed on Eid and Milad shows on PTV, ATV, Radio Pakistan and several other TV shows.”
Now an Intermediate first year student at Islamabad Model College for Boys, Ali Shad says it was different but not hard to switch to regular college after attending a special school. “People find it surprising that I’m studying in regular school now. But it’s not that hard and I have got my friends to help me out.”
The transition has made him more dependent than ever.
Discussing future plans, Ali Shad said he aims to be Pakistan’s best music artist — one with a Master’s degree in Musicology too. “Because I believe Music School is the best place to hone my talent and be an inspiration for other musicians.”
The selfless support of his family and faith of his teachers has steered Ali Shad on the melodic journey where he aims to emerge as a shining star of the music world.