In the language of Urdu, the word ‘Ustad’ is given to describe ‘an expert or highly skilled person… especially a musician’ – well, Niaz Hunzai based in Lahore, Pakistan is quite an exceptional and very much ‘Hidden Ustad’ in our opinion, who our team heard about and then were inclined to meet with.
Niaz plays over 18 musical instruments including the flute, Tablas (which are a two-piece percussion set of south asian drums) and a multitude of stringed instruments including the western guitar… and he plays all to an advanced level of understanding and skill. He has had no lessons, and feels it is a natural “gift from God” as he describes in his own words. Over the years his only real teacher has been‘Youtube’ – he told us how he watched hours and hours of tutorials on the video site and advanced his natural ability in this way.
He also described to us in detail:
“When I play music, I lose myself and forget the world. I forget even that I am disabled, or even where I am!”
Niaz was born with a disability he does not like to talk about in too much detail as he feels it is irrelevant for what he can and wishes to achieve in his life as a musician, and as a human being. He spoke about areas of stigma attached to his condition which he has faced most of his life whilst being mobile with the help of a wheelchair, and for him it is very much music that motivated him, inspired him daily and eventually encouraged him to pursue playing and performing to an audience.
“Music is my strength!” he says. “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy in my opinion. Music can change the world!”
He has never planned to teach, but many individuals have seen and heard him perform at countless amounts of local events and word spreads fast amongst music fans locally who have all gravitated towards him to teach them from the knowledge he has picked up himself. He teaches locally in schools and students also travel to him to learn and many to collaborate with the man being dubbed as ‘The Hidden Ustad’.
Niaz has ambitions to be able to collaborate with musicians and artists worldwide. Although fairly well-known in his own city where he collaborates regularly with local singers and fellow musicians, he is still very much ‘hidden’ to the rest of the world… but hopefully not for too long, and as he says confidently in his own words…“Inshallah!”
Niaz is influenced personally not only by south asian music, but also listens to and performs well-known renditions of contemporary western music. On his Facebook page he recently posted one of his favourite quotes from Reggae artist Bob Marley:
“One good thing about music, when it hits you… you feel no pain!”
You can hear Niaz’s music production and compositions via his own sound cloud page where he plays alongside an array of local vocalists and fellow musicians: