Akhtar Chanal Zahri is a famous Pakistani folk singer. In 1964 Akhtar Chanal started taking formal singing lessons from an ustaad. In 1973 he brought regional folk to national attention after he was discovered by the Balochi Radio Station, and in 1974 Chanal’s music became popular nationwide when his song Deer Deer was first aired live on TV. Since then Akhtar Chanal has traveled all over the world, including the United States, the Netherlands and Europe for tours. In 1998 he was also awarded the Pride of Performance.
Akhtar Chanal’s distinctive voice carries with it the stories of this great singer’s birthplace – the sweltering fields of Balochistan, where young shepherds are raised to the tunes of regional folk songs while they work. “Where I come from, when a child is born, the only two things he knows how to do are sing and cry - music is a part of us from the very beginning.” says the 60-year-old folk singer. “The songs I hummed as a youngster watching my sheep, are embedded in my memory.” Zahri believes that every animal, field, flower and blade of grass can feel the positive energy of music. These songs are still sung on the fields of Balochistan in Brahui language, the mother tongue of historically nomadic tribes living in a narrow corridor stretching from the coast of Las Bela through Khuzdar, Kalat, Nushki to Quetta, as well as along Afghanistan’s Helmand River and in Turkestan and Sistan, Iran.