Well guys, the time has finally come to start raving about the upcoming Season Three of Coke Studio (CS). Set to air on Sunday, June 6, it is true when they say the last little while lasts the longest. A short, sweet and classy press conference had just the right amount of flair mixed with comfort for both artists and press.
As all the artists involved in Coke Studio took their seats on stage at the official launch of Season Three, it became impressively evident as to how big a project this really is. Artists ranging from Omran Shafique, Asad Ahmed and Gumby to Tina Sani, Abida Parveen and Arif Lohar confirmed that the spectrum is truly broad.Filling up close to 30 seats on a warmly lit stage, the artists sat comfortably, many with smiles on their faces. Content with the ample amount of work they had put into this project, rehearsals and recordings going into the wee hours of the morning, seeing the entire line-up together truly reaffirmed the enormity of this enterprise.
Adnan Malik’s voice, emanated from somewhere backstage, acted as an MC. It was wise to not take attention away from the musical geniuses who brought this all together.
Rizwan U. Khan, Country Manager of Coca-Cola gave an exuberant speech, obviously excited by the fact that CS is getting bigger each year. Rohail Hyatt followed him up with few words (he’s not much of a speaker, his work does the talking). He spoke about transcending musical boundaries by bringing together artists from different genres and musical backgrounds in one room “engaging and communicating through the language of music.” And then the big plasma screen lit up with the spectacular teasers of CS 3.
The set has been altered so artists can feed off of each others vibes to present “something that comes straight from the heart and goes to the heart.” By simply bringing aboard a wide array of artists, CS’s music will attempt to bridge gaps created by culture, age or ethnicity.
The Sufi feel is retained with Arieb Azhar reprising his poignant vocals to some great music. Last season turned Saeein Zahoor into a household name, you will similarly see Fakir Juman Shah showing us that music is in every corner of our country if you search for it.
Qawwali is more prominent this season as we hear the wails of Rizwan and Muazzam who sound terrific, even in the absence of music. Zeb and Haniya, who immortalized their song ‘Paimona’ are back too.
A larger rock contingent is also featured this time around as Entity Paradigm, Aunty Disco Project and Karavan join Noori as the bands for Coke Studio. Rohail also brought aboard a key young talent in Amanat Ali to do an interesting rendition of Khaled’s ‘Aicha’.
Some major highlights are…
The Noori omnibus brings on the parents
Coke Studio being a familial effort is manifest on-stage as, apart from Rohail’s family being part of the production, CS Season Three will also feature Ali Noor and Hamza’s parents showing that music truly flows in their bloodline.
Noori’s father Ali Kazim will take on some vocal duty, and it will be a treat to see if he schools his sons with some masterful singing. Their mother Noor Zehra Kazim will reveal her melodies on her soulful Sagar Veena, an instrument which speaks to hearts and minds. What adds to this is that Noori’s grandfather, from their mother’s side, had made a new version of the Sagar Veena which is testament to melodies gushing through their veins.
Meesha Shafi lets loose with Arif Lohar
Overload vocalist and suave, sexy model Meesha Shafi adds another ability to her repertoire. She shows off her vocal range alongside the diminutive yet immensely talented Arif Lohar. She struts her stuff on stage with her jeans and top, surprising many along the way with her vocal acumen, which was not quite as evident in her subdued and heavily produced vocals for Overload.
Add to the mix a Punjabi folk singer in Arif Lohar, he of the hearty voice and exuberant energy and what is bound to steal the show is the funk of this electric duo. Arif rocks out in his long curls to some electric guitars, drums, bass and the soothing vocals of Meesha to give his chimta a run for the money. ‘Aik Alif’ may have been sublime, but folk has never been this sexy.
Sanam Saeed and Zoe Viccaji move to backing vocals from center stage
Joining Saba Shabbir on backing vocals will be Sanam Saeed and Zoe Viccaji for what will round out a very accomplished trio. Sanam who is most notable for her onstage portrayal of Roxie Hart in Chicago settles for a more subdued role as a backup vocalist. Adding this to her repertoire of acting and modeling it seems that there is not much she can’t do.
As for Zoe, we have heard her sing and carry notes at various gigs, as well as joining Sanam onstage in Mamma Mia as Donna Sheridan’s friends. Her vocal talent is hardly a well kept secret as many people feel she should record an album of her own some day. Perhaps lending her voice for backup vocals for a project of this magnitude is a step in that direction.
Tina Sani is in the house!
Bridging gaps created by culture, age and ethnicity indeed! Tina Sani will jam with some of Pakistan’s more heralded rock stars. That is indeed one sentence we never thought would be written, but Rohail has changed that too. Usually catering her ghazals to more mature audiences, an entire generation is about to discover the magnificent voice of Tina Sani. Her ghazals, which are mostly poems by Faiz or Iqbal, showcase poetry and style in combination to a host of youngsters following Coke Studio who have previously not heard her sing.
Abida Parveen and Sanam Marvi wield their power
There aren’t many who haven’t heard Abida Parveen’s voice at some stage in their life. But there are perhaps nil who have heard her rocking it out loud with the likes of Omran on his electric, Gumby on his drums and Kamran’s bass lines. Her powerful voice and aura will project on the set of Coke Studio a previously unheard of effect.
CS-3 will also showcase the talent of Sanam Marvi who has a tremendous voice but has had little exposure in Pakistan, at least not of the magnitude Coke Studio will provide. Sanam can sing in different languages and carry a tune like no other. The little teaser of her role on Coke Studio had many looking forward to her. What a voice!
Sikander Mufti comes on board for percussion
New percussionist Sikander Mufti, from Mauj and Co-Ven, will bang out tunes on most notably his darbuka. He is usually seen and heard smashing his snares and cymbals alongside Omran Shafique and Hamza Jafri. But, this time around Sikander will unite with his band-mate Omran, amongst a host of other musicians, as part of the house band that will add music on various levels to all the visiting artists. Primarily playing darbuka, an instrument that needs to feature in every season, at least in my opinion, Sikander thrashes out beats to support Gumby and the rest of the percussionists in a very diverse house band.