When one thinks of Coke Studio’s success stories, folk singer Arif Lohar’s name is the first that comes to mind.
Not only has he featured on the music show twice, but has previously voiced the need for more shows like Coke Studio and credited the platform for bringing him centre stage in the world of music. Now, it seems the renowned folk singer has had a change of mind. He will no longer sing for branded music shows and aims to focus on traditional music while solely promoting his love for Punjabi songs.
“I have sung for branded music shows in the past and it has been an amazing experience. It also helped me gain more fame in the country,” Arif told The Express Tribune. He however chose to distance himself from such music shows because of “the politics in the music industry and the changing agendas of people involved these days.”
The Pride of Performance recipient was recently presented the Pride of Punjab Award. According to Arif, the award was given to him for his commitment to folk music both as a local and international artist. “I feel happy when I sing at public gatherings because that is my real audience. The whole aura of an open air setting adds to the mood of the gathering and to my music. I have decided I will only sing at public events from now on.”
Arif started out his career under the guidance of his father and has, over the years, released around 155 studio albums, sung as many as 4,000 songs and performed in over 60 countries. “I have always followed my father’s vision to spread happiness through music. This is the reason I perform everywhere in Pakistan without asking how much I will be paid for it. Sometimes people give my father’s reference and I have no choice but to respect their feelings,” stated Arif. “I want to see the people of this country satisfied. I know I have been given the Pride of Punjab award this year just because the public loves me.”
He is currently working on a film on the life of Sufi poet Waris Shah. “I am busy shooting for the film and I have been given a lead role,” he said. Despite achieving so much, the singer feels he still has a long way to go. “I am still struggling to do my best. I believe the destination is still far away.” He is of the view that he comes nowhere near to what his father had achieved at this age and it is his footsteps that he is trying to follow. Unsurprisingly, he is also starring in a film on his late father, Alam Lohar’s life, the shooting for which will commence soon.
There has never been a crisis in the field of folk music and Arif hopes that things remain this way. “There has never been a period when Pakistan has run out of folk musicians. I am hopeful that more people will get attracted towards folk music given that youngsters are provided with the right kind of opportunities and platforms.”