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BBC Asian Network Live Event Was Good But It Lacked Diversity

BBC Asian Network Live Event Was Good But It Lacked Diversity

Friday 3rd March 2017

Written by Saad, Twitter: @Saad__H

The BBC Asian Network held its second annual musical event last weekend at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London. Titled "The BBC Asian Network Live", the event attempted and also to a great extent succeeded in bringing to the forefront some lesser known as well as some highly popular musical acts from the British Asian music scene as well as the Indian Subcontinent.

In its first outing in 2016, we saw the likes of Imran Khan, Kanika Kapoor and Badshah mesmerising audiences with their upbeat music. Whereas this year, Badshah made a reappearance, he was also joined by bhangra music bigwig Jazzy B. The newer talents included Arjun, Anirudh as well as Jasmin Sandlas of Kick fame.

Badshah, who has been constantly churning out chartbusting hits for the past few years definitely stole the show with his songs like Kala Chashma, DJ Walay Babu, Abhi to Party and The Humma song. The other acts, including Jazzy B, unfortunately, could not live up to the energetic atmosphere that Badshah and his accompanying artists had created in the entire arena.

The BBC Asian Network must be commended for organising an event which gives newer artists like Anirudh and Arjun the platform they need to reach out to a wider audience. We are also aware that Bollywood and Bhangra music are massive crowd pullers for the South Asian crowd in the UK. However, since the radio network is called BBC ASIAN Network, one would expect to see some diversity in the acts and hope the musicians did not mainly all hail from just one country, namely India. The event did have performances by Naughty Boy and Zack Knight both of whom are of Pakistani descent but they are British.

Here is a list of emerging and also some well established talent from Pakistan who could have beenon the BBC Asian Network Live line up:

1). QB (Qurat-ul-ain Baloch) - QB has been around the Pakistani music scene for a number of years now. She rose to fame with her stunning cover of the Hum TV Drama Humsafar and she has come a long way since then. QB has a number of chart busters in her cap, which were produced under the overwhelmingly popular platform, Coke Studio Pakistan.

Credit: YouTube/EMIRecordsIndiaVEVO

2). SomeWhatSuper - A relatively new band based in Lahore, Pakistan, they have produced a number of tracks fusing EDM with Urdu. Their popular singles like "Patang" and "Bandook" are a testament to their popularity and talent.

3). Momina Mustehsan - Ever since she sang a rendition of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's Afreen Afreen with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan for the latest season of Coke Studio Pakistan, Momina's popularity has skyrocketed. Not many are aware but Momina also has "Baavri" which was picturised on Prachi Desai in the film Ek Villian to her credit. Her divine vocals coupled with her flawless looks have earned her a permanent place in the hearts of many Pakistanis.

Credit: YouTube/CokeStudio

4). Ali Sethi: Hailing from the prominent Sethi family of Pakistan, Ali is a fully trained singer in classical music. His single "Yeh sab tumhara karam hai aaqa" with the ever-reigning queen of Sufi music Abida Parveen, received much love from critics and audiences alike. Ali has the potential of bringing classical music back to its lost glory with his immense talent.

5). Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Atif Aslam and Meesha Shafi.

Credit: YouTube/CokeStudio

One must keep in mind that the radio network has been under constant fire in the past for alienating its Pakistani listeners by overlooking talent from that country. In 2008, At least 20 past and present BBC employees, all Asian Muslims, lodged complaints that its digital radio station, Asian Network, is operating with an anti-Muslim policy. They claimed that the presenters and reporters were sidelined or sacked from the station, in favour of Asians from other backgrounds - mainly Hindus and Sikhs. They also complained that attempts to persuade the station's upper ranks to play Pakistani or Bengali music for its 500,000 listeners are ignored in favour of a strict diet of Bollywood and bhangra tunes, which are more popular among the Hindu and Sikh communities. Their case was taken up by Labour peer Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, who campaigns on discrimination issues. In addition, Sayeeda Warsi also raised concerns on this matter.

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Finally, we would like to iterate that this piece is in no way to criticise the overall present functions of BBC Asian Network but to raise awareness and start a dialogue. This would give them a few ideas and a lot more happier listeners from various backgrounds within the South Asian community! How else will we achieve diversity if the event posters are only advertised on the streets of Hounslow but fail to engage the British Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi communities across the country including Bradford, Manchester, and as far as Glasgow?

Image credit: BBC