Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 11:32 UK

Pakistani singer Iqbal Bano dies

By M Ilyas Khan
BBC News, Islamabad

Iqbal Bano, file pic
Iqbal Bano was a master of both classical and popular forms

Renowned Pakistani singer Iqbal Bano died on Tuesday in the eastern city of Lahore aged 74, it has been reported.

Ms Bano was best known for her semi-classical Urdu ghazal songs and classical thumris, but also sang easy-listening numbers in 1950s films.

Few singers of classical music matched the brilliance of her voice and her command of musical notes, critics say.

She became a cult figure under the rule of Gen Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s when she sang songs banned by the government.

She violated the ban by singing revolutionary works by Pakistan's critically acclaimed poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

The chants of the audience in the 1985 recording of a concert at which she performed Faiz's inspirational anthem, Hum Dekhenge (We Will See), have become a symbol of resistance, says the BBC Urdu service's Arif Viqar in Lahore.

He says she transformed several other Urdu verses with her exceptional singing skills and command of the language.

Pride of Performance

Iqbal Bano was born in Delhi in 1935. She moved to Pakistan in 1952, where she married into a land-owning family.

Her first songs were recorded at All India Radio in Delhi, says Arif Viqar.

She was a star by the 1950s, with several hit film songs that have since become classics in their own right.

But her natural talent was towards semi-classical music, such as thumris, dadras and the classical rendition of ghazals, a genre of Urdu poetry.

She was given the Pride of Performance award by the Pakistani government in 1974.

She also sang Persian poetry, which became popular in Iran and Afghanistan.

In pre-1979 Afghanistan, she was often invited to the annual cultural fair, the Jashn-e-Kabul.

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