Shumaila Hemani blends tradition with topicality on her immersive debut album Mannat (A Prayer, A Wish) — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
Crossing gender boundaries by singing Pakistani songs of Muslim heritage which are typically performed by men, Hemani’s album also serves as an awakening about climate emergency and the need for action. “It’s an appeal to the world to come together to support 33 million climate refugees as a result of heavy flooding in Pakistan that drowned a third of the country in August 2022,” she says.
Based on Sufi poetry from South Asia and sound recordings of heavy rainfall, floods, and other environmental sounds recorded in Pakistan, “Mannat is an immersive experience of deep listening to soundscapes of climate change, the havoc it is bringing on cultures and tradition, and prayers rooted in Hindustani art music and singing from the Sufi shrines of Pakistan,” she says.
It features Perils of Heavy Rainfall, an acousmatic composition which won second prize in the 2020 Listening During COVID contest.
Along with Hemani’s mesmerizing voice and harmonium (a South Asian reed instrument), the album features Mehdi Rezania on santur (an Iranian zither) Ojas Joshi on tabla, South Asian percussion and sound design based on field recordings and original composition. Hemani’s performance features compelling storytelling in English with awe-inspiring music in Sindhi, intended to spread the message of love, peace, and interconnectedness within South Asian Sufi poetry to global audiences.
“Mannat is a fulfillment of a calling that interlocked my heart. Sufi poetry empowered me to speak up for equity and justice without fear. This album is the culmination of over a decade of research and performance learning to bring Sufi sounds to Canadians and the world,” says Hemani. “Sufi poetry brings a message of heart-centring love, inter-connectedness, and deep healing from wounds and traumas and represents the power of love to create a more just world.”
Hemani is an interdisciplinary artist and academic residing in Alberta. She holds degrees in music and ethnomusicology. Her artistic practice involves sculpting with sounds of the environment and Islamic mystic poetry from South Asia for social empowerment and change.
Listen to Mannat below and find Shumaila Hemani at her website and Twitter.