KARACHI - Nayyara Noor, one of the most accomplished singers in Pakistan, passed away in Karachi late Saturday night after a long battle with cancer.

The 71-year-old singer, known as Bulbul-e-Pakistan was born in Guwahati, Assam, northeastern India, where she spent her early childhood before her family moved to Karachi in the late 1950s.  Said to have been discovered by Professor Asrar Ahmad from Islamia College, Lahore, while singing at a musical event at the National College of Arts in Lahore, Nayyara Noor went on to perform some of the most iconic ghazals and film songs to have been produced in the country.

With a great body of work already performed, Nayyara Noor’s rendition of Faiz’s poetry ‘Nayyara Sings Faiz’ is probably the most known and celebrated of her works, produced in 1976 as a birthday gift for Faiz.  Known for her soulful voice and rare simplicity for someone in the entertainment world, Nayyara Noor was shy about making public appearances other than performing her craft. In 2019, though, she sat with her long-time colleague and partner-in-music Arshad Mahmud at an event in Karachi’s National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) and spoke of her philosophy of music: “Music is probably the purest form of art. Do not adulterate it” — and life: The moment you subscribe to any kind of pretentiousness or fakeness, that’s the moment you lose it.” Some of the most memorable melodies recorded by Nayyara Noor are immortalized in PTV archives. From PTV drama serial soundtracks like Faiz’s Raat Yun Dil Mein Teri (for Dhoop Kinarey) to ‘Aye jazba-e-dil Gar Mein Chahoon’, to the haunting ‘Kabhi Hum Khoobsurat Thay’.  Nayyar Noor’s work spanned ghazals to film songs to patriotic numbers. Where there was Ibne Insha’s ‘Jale tou jalao gori’, there was also ‘Roothay ho tum, tumko kaise manaoon piya’, sung for the movie Aaina and ‘Wattan Ki Mitti Gawah Rehna’. On hearing of her passing away, Arshad Mahmud says: “I am extremely sad and filled with sorrow. She was extremely special for me.” Nayyara Noor leaves behind a husband, two children and two grandchildren.