dailypeghamKARACHI: A month after the international release of his debut album, Sada-e-Sufi, from India, Hamza Akram Qawwal is facing difficulties releasing the record in his home country, Pakistan.

Citing the dearth of record labels in the country as a major reason, the singer shared that instead of approaching popular labels and distributors, he had requested private companies to sponsor his album’s local release. “We only have a handful of labels in the country at the moment and the ones that exist don’t offer great deals to musicians,” he lamented. “I decided to take a different route where I pitched the idea to private companies and brands in Pakistan, asking them to lend support but none have shown interest as yet.”

While its release in Pakistan may seem hindered, the album has already been launched worldwide, and in India by the Times of India’s record label, Times Music. Hamza explained that while he did have the option of releasing the album in Pakistan through the Indian label, he chose not to, and instead retained the rights for the music in his own country. “I wanted to release the album [in Pakistan] myself and organise a proper launch for it so as to create the right amount of traction here.”

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With private companies giving him a cold shoulder, and commercial record labels failing to strike a good deal, did Hamza consider releasing his album on digital music platforms such as Patari and Taazi? The Qawwal has ruled out digital release at present, and explained that he would prefer to keep it for a later stage. “Unlike other mainstream genres of music it is difficult for qawwali and classical music to create the same buzz on digital platforms,” he said. “People who still listen to qawwali prefer to have the record in a physical form, like a CD.”

Sada-e-Sufi’s release in Pakistan is not the only thing that’s keeping Hamza busy at the moment. Gearing up to embark on a tour of the United States of America and Europe in the coming few months, one project that he remains particularly excited about is Sounds of Saints. Elaborating upon the nature of the project, Hamza shared that it is a collaborative venture between him and artist-cum-designer Yousuf Bashir Qureshi.

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“We will basically be taking the kalams of different Sufis like Amir Khusro and Baba Bulleh Shah and putting them together in the form of a show,” he said. “First, Yousuf Bashir Qureshi will recite some of the kalams, explaining them in detail, followed by my performance inspired by the works of these legends.”

While Hamza refrained from sharing the commencement date of the venture, he did hint that it might not be a one-off thing. “We will be starting from the Commune Artist Colony and will try and take it to other cities… hopefully other countries as well.”

Representing the 26th generation of the famous Qawwal bachon ka gharana, the singer was previously in the news for his collaboration with media personality Arjumand Azhar. The duo had been working on a naat album featuring religious hymns penned by non-Muslims. Hamza shared the album too was under works and would hopefully be nearing completion soon.