'Bulbul-e-Pakistan' Nayyara Noor laid to rest as admirers praise her immortal work
Pakistani singer Nayyara Noor

Karachi: Nayyara Noor, the iconic Pakistani singer who earned the honorific title of ‘Bulbul-e-Pakistan’ for her mesmerising voice that enthralled music aficionados on both sides of the border, has been laid to rest here after her admirers attended her funeral in huge numbers.

Noor, born in India, died after a long battle with cancer in this southern Pakistani city on Sunday at the age of 71. She is survived by her husband and two sons.

Funeral prayers of Noor were offered at DHA’s Imambargah Yasrab on Sunday, following which she was laid to rest in the Phase VIII graveyard. Showbiz personalities, politicians, journalists and music lovers attended her funeral in large numbers, The News newspaper reported on Monday.

Her husband Shehryar Zaidi, a veteran TV actor, told the media that Noor had been suffering from last-stage cancer for one and a half years.

He said her death is a loss for the entire nation, but my loss is more, the report said.

Often known as Bulbul-e-Pakistan (the Nightingale of Pakistan), Noor was born in November 1950 in Guwahati, Assam, where she spent her early childhood before her family relocated to Karachi, the capital of newly created Pakistan, a few years later.

Her father was an active member of the All-India Muslim League and hosted Pakistan’s founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah during his trip to Assam before the Partition in 1947.

Her mother, along with her children, immigrated to Karachi in 1957 while the father stayed back to look after their property. He arrived in Pakistan in the early 1990s.

Noor went to the prestigious National College of Arts in Lahore, where her singing talent was first discovered, and by the late ’60s, she had made her debut on state television.

Noor began her career in Radio Pakistan, graduated to television and then playback singing for films. She shot into national prominence when she appeared in Shoaib Hashmi’s TV shows Taal Matol and Sach Gup and her initial job on the silver screen included the movies Gharana and Tansen.

In a versatile career spanning four decades, Noor sang many memorable songs like Woh Jo Hum Mein Tum Mein Qarar Tha, Kabhi Hum Bhi Khoobssorat Thay, and Watan Ki Mitti Gawah Rehna. She will forever be remembered for her mellifluous renditions of work by Pakistan’s famous revolutionary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

Not only Faiz, but Noor also sang ghazals penned by legendary Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib and performed with versatile singers like Mehdi Hassan, known as Shahenshah-e-Ghazal and Ahmed Rushdi.

She had a consuming passion for singing and poetry in equal measure. As a result, music and literature buffs were treated to masterpieces such as ‘Aaj bazaar mein pabijonla chalo’ and ‘Merey qaatil merey dildaar merey paas raho’.

Noor also sang some of Pakistan’s most memorably patriotic songs, including Sohni Dharti, as well as countless ones for Pakistani films.

She hadn’t acquired any formal training in music. As a teenager, Noor used to listen to eminent vocalists such as Begum Akhtar, Lata Mangeshkar and Kanan Devi.

Her gift was natural. Once recognised, she, like a student who had developed unwavering focus, worked diligently to polish her art. Her understanding of the sanctity of words, too, came in handy, the Dawn newspaper reported.

Most of all, it was her unique voice that won many a heart. She used its nasality to her advantage by never compromising on the subtleties of compositions.

Noor was honoured with the title Bulbul-e-Pakistan (Nightingale of Pakistan) in 2006.

In 2006, she was honoured with the Pride of Performance Award, and by 2012, she bid adieu to her professional singing career.

Condolences and messages of sorrow started pouring in soon after the news of Noor’s passing away.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, while expressing grief over Noor’s demise, said her death is “an irreparable damage” to the music world.

“Be it a ghazal or a song, whatever Nayyara Noor sang, she sang it with perfection. The void created by Nayyara Noor’s death will never be filled,” he tweeted.

Pakistan President Arif Alvi expressed grief over Noor’s sad demise.

In a statement on Sunday, he said Noor achieved a distinction in the field of singing and added that her eternal songs and ghazals will always remind us of her.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari expressed grief over the death of a Noor and said she will live forever in her songs.

Popular Pakistani singer Ali Zafar said that Noor’s demise was “heartbreaking”. She was our nightingale, he added.

PTI leader Shireen Mazari said that she was “shocked and saddened” to know that Nayyara is no more. She said that Nayyara’s music was “an integral part of our lives.”

A wonderful singer and human being, Nayyara Noor ji is no more. She leaves behind the legacy of her beautiful music. Rest in peace, nightingale,” Singer Shafqat Amanat Ali tweeted.

I just learned the sad news that legendary singer Nayyara Noor Sahiba has passed away. She was an icon and her contribution to music will be remembered and loved forever. My deepest heartfelt condolences to her family, wrote Singer Adnan Sami on Twitter.

Singer Quratulain Baloch said: The true privilege I have had in my life was to have been given the opportunity to sit with Nayyara Noor Ji and have conversations that were deep and meaningful and not of this world. The voice that gave life to poetry. The voice that’ll be forever.”

Singer Shahzad Roy said: Her legacy is forever since legends don’t die.”

Actor Imran Abbas tweeted: “The nightingale of Pakistan Nayyara Noor is no more. Her unmatched melodious voice is the memoir of endless memories, an era that is never gonna come back. Huge loss to all of us.”

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