Everyone has a life but very few actually do anything with it. We are all meant to serve our purpose but very few succeed, imagine someone who dedicates their whole life to their passion and true calling. Such is the story of Ustad Ghulam Siraj Niazi. He is a Hindustani musical genius among us, carrying the knowledge of generations. He’s been in the industry for over three decades and now, at 58, he has even more to give. True passion never fades even when silver hair.
Ustad Ghulam Siraj Niazi comes from the home of musicians and artists in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, the Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana. He is the grandson of the late Padma Bhushan Ustad Mushtaq Hussain Khan and the son of the late Ustad Ghulam Husain Khan, who himself was a legendary Hindustani classical singer. He learned music from the age of nine and grew up with such legends. practically ran through his veins.
Ustad Siraj Niazi is now president of the Padmabhushan Ustad Mushtaq Husain Khan Association (PUMHKA), founded in India and Hong Kong ten years ago. Ustad ji has been based in Hong Kong for quite some time now and has also started passing on his genius there. A little about his mastery of music, he was trained in the typical traditional style and format, also known as “Seena Baseena” by his father but, he meandered and experimented with many other styles but his core remains classic Hindustani. He also has a great mastery of ‘Khayal Gayaki’ and sharp skills in semi-classical and light voice. In honor of his lineage, he named PHUMKA “the Ustad Ghulam Husain Khan Academy” in Hong Kong in memory of his father.
In PHUMKA, he keeps his grandfather’s memory intact and gives a platform to new top performers all over India. Apart from that, he also teaches Hindustani classical music and has many students all over the world. He never wants the music of the Hindustani tradition to die down and get excited when someone seeks to pursue it. He also inspires young minds to get into music, advice from the man himself, “I highly recommend getting training in the right format, as it leads to exponential growth in individual creativity, ‘originality and versatility’.
He has learned a lot over the years and has a lot more to pass on. When we asked him what kept him excited about music, even after so long, he said eloquently, “Just the fact that I can experiment so much instead of being limited to one style is enough of a price for me, but the joy of promoting our beautiful art and culture on a global scale is simply unmatched. My profession and drive is what drives and motivates me.” The mark of a true artist.
In a very experienced lifetime, he is now passing the torch to the next generation. At PHUMKA they are now planning to expand further, many exciting things are going on. He plans to organize big concerts not only in Hong Kong and India, but in many parts of the world in collaboration with other organizations. He says he’s just getting started and has them a lot more often. Let’s live this life musically.