Hamayoon Khan grew up in his family village in the hills of Lower Dir, surrounded by lush wheat fields and mountain streams. He started singing while he was still in school and performed at a number of school functions and festivals. Over the years Khan’s love for music grew as he went to college and continued to perform on the side while he studied. He got to know a number of Pashto musicians who had been trying to revive the music scene in Peshawar.
“I learnt (music) from my friends. There were a number of friends who would get together and talk about music and vocals, discuss rhythms and tunes. Everyone listens to all kinds of music,” says Khan, recalling his early days as an amateur musician.
Khan said there was a great revival in Pashto music after 2004. Music had been stifled through the 1980s and there were few musicians left in the business in the 1990s. People would hark back to the golden days of Ustad Shah Wali and Khyal Muhammad Sahib as the greats of Pashto music who have had a significant influence on modern Pashto artists like Hamayoon Khan. One day Khan told his friend, Ivan, that they should make original music with a more modern touch. They released a song, which became very popular and 4 or 5 other songs followed after that.
“People started wanting to listen to it and a lot more artists were created. This flow was created and people abroad would download Pashto music and the musicians started doing really well,” says Khan.
There was much better distribution and out reach of Pashto music with the expansion of private Pashto television and radio channels. While it was still difficult for someone to go into music as a profession, families started opening up to the idea once they saw the lucrative value of the business and the way it promoted Pashto culture.
“We have a social family and we give a lot of value to norms and we enjoy music but believe that it shouldn’t be a fulltime job. The main focus should be on studies. But besides that, maybe if people do music my way it has a very good impression,” says Khan with a sense of pride for his talent and cultural heritage.
This season Khan brings the most popular Pashto folk tunes to Coke Studio, representing Pashto language and culture across Pakistan and the world.