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Saleem Raza: A prominent playback Christian singer


Saleem Raza

Saleem Raza was born on 4th March 1932. His name by birth was Noel Dias, born to a Christian family in Amristsar India. After partition, he moved to Pakistan and changed his name to Saleem Raza when he started singing for Lahore Radio station.

Raza was a trained classical singer and was famous for the diverse genre of songs he sung. He was well acclaimed for sad songs. At Lahore radio he became friends with Mohni Hameed and they were often seen together. Saleem Raza learnt music from famous music composers of that time like M. Sadiq Ali and Ustaad Ashiq Hussain.

In 1955 Raza got his big break in the film industry. He lent his voice to the tragic scores of the movie. His music career in the film industry beckoned and he rendered numerous memorable songs in many movies.

Saleem Raza’s genius for recording sad songs and an abiding fervor to work with distinguished luminaries helped him paint vivid portraits of Pakistani people in the harsh years after independence. Many national songs are accredited to his name.

Raza’s voice had both example and emotion. His immortal solos and romantic duets gained him heights of popularity. After experiencing a high in his career, Raza was dissatisfied with a song he recorded. After considering re-recording it in Mehdi Hasan’s voice he could not do that because Hasan was facing some difficulty with high notes. The music director Khalil Ahmed invited newly rising singer Ahmed Rushdi to sing the dame song and he did a great job.

The actors to which Saleem Raza’s voice suited the most also lost popularity gradually and this started the decline of his career. Raza also found it difficult to adjust to the new equipment that was being used in the music industry, resulting in another set back to his career.

Raza won many awards which included the Nigar Award for Best singer in 1960, the Screen Light Award in 1962. The Pakistan Arts Council recognized his efforts in the promotion of quality music in 1966.

In the midst of a major financial crisis, Saleem Raza migrated to Vancouver Canada in 1975 and established a music school. Raza taught music for eight years in Canada. After suffering from kidney malfunction he died in 1983.