A singer and songwriter, Hadiqa Kiani was born in Rawalpindi. Her father died when she was only three years old. Her mother, poetess Khawar Kiani, was the principal of a government girls' school. Seeing her musical
As an eighth grader, Hadiqa moved from her birthplace Rawalpindi to Lahore where she continued her classical training by Ustad Faiz Ahmed Khan and Wajid Ali Nashad. She went on to graduate from Pakistan's top institutions, earning her bachelor's degree in Psychology from Kinnaird College for Women University and her Masters in Psychology from the historic Government College University Lahore.
In the early 1990s, Hadiqa came onto TV to host a children's music programme called 'Angan Angan Taray'. In the three and a half year long run, she had sung over one thousand songs for children while hosting the show alongside renowned music composer Amjad Bobby and later on with music composer Khalil Ahmed. Due to the sheer amount of songs Kiani sang during this program, she was presented with the title of 'A+ artist' on behalf of PTV joining the likes of Noor Jehan, Naheed Akhtar, and Mehnaz. She also appeared as a VJ for a music charts programme called Video Junction on NTM.
Hadiqa Kiani began to sing songs as a playback singer for movies in the early 90s, most notably was the hit Pakistani movie called Sargam, which was starring and being composed by Adnan Sami Khan. The same year, she received various awards for her playback singing including the prestigious Nigar Awards for Best Female Playback Singer.
In 1995, Hadiqa received the NTM Viewer’s choice award for the Best Female Singer of Pakistan. In the same Award show, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was awarded as the Best Male Singer of Pakistan. The following year, Hadiqa Kiani released her debut album Raaz (Secret) in 1996. The album spawned a string of radio-friendly hits and received positive reviews. Some argue that the reason the album did well was because it was not common for female singers (from educated/non-musical backgrounds) to release albums in Pakistan. Also, she was the first female singer to release a pop album after the former pop singer, Nazia Hassan, gave up her musical career. Her ability to sing in other dialects was also presented to the country through the hit Kashmiri folk song Maane Di Mauj.
Her increasing popularity was further highlighted in January 1997, when Hadiqa became the first Asian singer to perform on the British National Lottery Live BBC One a programme with an estimated viewership of 16.6 million at that time. Afterwards she worked on two more shows with Bally Sagoo for BBC and ITV before going on her first United States tour in 1997. Her U.S. tour covered 15 states and a few cities in Canada. The same year Hadiqa performed many other international events in the United Kingdom, Australia, and China.
By the summer of 1997, Hadiqa Kiani was representing Pakistan as the only Pakistani singer to perform at 'Celebration Hong Kong 97' at Happy Valley Race Course, alongside other International singers like Lisa Stansfield, Wet Wet Wet, Michael Learns to Rock, All 4 One and The Brand New Heavies, an event to celebrate Hong Kong's freedom from the United Kingdom. Hadiqa Kiani is the first mainstream Pakistani singer to ever perform in Hong Kong.
By the end of the year she became the first Asian female singer ever to be signed by Pepsi Cola International. She was the second international female artist in the world to be signed, the first being Gloria Estefan.
In 1998, Hadiqa recorded the official theme song for the 1999 Cricket World Cup. The Pepsi sponsored song was titled Intehai Shauq, written by Kiani's mother, Khawar Kiani, and composed and produced by the famed Nizar Lalani. The song was filmed by Jami and Imran Baber and proved to be an instant success that captivated the country with what was noted as incredibly motivational imagery and lyrics.
Amidst the World Cup recording, Hadiqa released her second album, titled Roshni. The third single from the album was Dupatta. The video was inspired by the sci-fi film The Matrix. The song is listed in the Twenty Best Pop Songs Ever for Pakistan, where it is positioned at number 15. The success of the song was attributed to its quasi-bhangra rhythm with 'fat, funky techno beats' and her 'dreamy-meets-husky vocals' which made the results 'stunning'. In the wake of Dupatta's success Hadiqa became widely accepted as the country's leading female vocalist.
Capitalizing on Dupatta’s success, Hadiqa went on to release two other moderate hits, 'Roshni', and 'Woh Kaun Hai'. Her sixth single off the album, 'Boohey Barian' went on to become an even bigger hit for her than 'Dupatta'. To date, 'Boohey Barian' is widely accepted as Kiani's best single ever and noted as one of the most prominent Pakistani songs of all time. 'Roshni' sold over a million copies in Pakistan alone, certifying it as Platinum. The album is listed in the 20 Best Local Pop Albums Ever for the country, positioned at No.15. Hadiqa is just one of two female singers in the entire list.
Hadiqa Kiani’s success led to her being signed by Unilever for celebrity endorsement of Lipton in 2001. In 2002, she is signed again by Unilever for Sunsilk Shampoo after the results of Unilever's national survey to find the Most Popular Woman of Pakistan. Throughout the early 2000s, she performed live concerts in the US, Canada, UK, Middle East, Far East, Australia, Norway, Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey.
Hadiqa Kiani returned to promote the album in June 2003, almost 10 months after she released 'Yaad Sajan' with a new single 'Ranjhan' and several stage performances and tours around the country. She then released other singles off the album throughout 2003 and 2004. These included 'Jogi Bun Kay Aa', 'Mahi' and 'Dholan'. In 'Jogi Bun Kay Aa' Hadiqa plays various women’s roles, including a traditional Japanese, an Arab, and a tribal woman. She played a vampire in her video for 'Mahi' which was directed by top director Asim Raza. The video showed that it is harmful to judge people of different faiths and castes, and also bad to stereotype. It was the highest budgeted video of the year 2003. During this time, Hadiqa was in the midst of her first divorce, however her album sales continued to pick up through 2003 and 2004.
In 2004, Hadiqa received the Best Female Pop Singer Award by Indus Music, the first 24-hour music channel of Pakistan. Asim Raza won an award for best video for directing her critically acclaimed video Mahi. Shortly after the release of Rung, she was mentioned in Pakistani Pop’s 10 most Influential Acts Ever, in which she was ranked ninth. She is also one of just 2 female singers in the list, the other being Nazia Hassan. A UK-based Magazine declared Hadiqa the 22nd greatest music maker of South Asia out of a total of fifty artists, also mentioning how she raised the standard of music videos in the country.
Several years after the release of Rung, leading Indian Sufi singer Harshdeep Kaur covered Hadiqa's self-composed 'Jogi Bun Kay Aa' on a leading Indian television show. The lyrics of the song were originally written by her mother and poetess Khawar Kiani.
In 2007, Hadiqa released her fourth studio album, Rough Cut, collaboration with Aamir Zaki. With the release of Rough Cut, she became the first mainstream Pakistani artist to release an album completely in English.
Prior to the release of the album, Hadiqa and Zaki teamed up for an Urdu song, written by Zaki, titled 'Iss Baar Milo'. The video was directed by Jami (director) and starred Humayun Saeed opposite of Hadiqa. Iss Baar Milo's video production and acting performances, notably Hadiqa's portrayal of a schizophrenic patient in a Pakistani mental hospital received a great response. The video was a major milestone in the Pakistani music industry, winning her and Jami the title of Best Video by MTV Pakistan.
In April 2007, Kiani released the first official single for the album, titled 'Living This Lie'. The same week, Hadiqa was named Hotstepper of the week for The News by Jang Group. The article also stated that ultimately, as long as Hadiqa is around, there is still hope for women in the patriarchal music world of Pakistan. 'Living This Lie' was nominated and won for 'Best English Song' at 'The Musik Awards' in 2007. Hadiqa was also nominated for Best Female Singer in the same award show.
In June 2009, Hadiqa switched record labels to Fire Records and released her fifth studio album, titled Aasmaan. In the album, she sang in Urdu, Punjabi, Hindko, Pashto, and Persian. The first single of the album was 'Sohnya'. The official video of Sohnya premiered a day before Kiani released the album. Following the release, the song + video stayed on the Aag top 10 Charts for over a month resulting in her receiving a Shield from Aag10 for being the Artist of the Month.
Every single released from Aasmaan reached number one. Sohnya was number one AAG10 Charts for over a month and was titled the best Pop Song of 2009 according to The Nation. 'Tuk Tuk' was number one on Prime TV Charts. 'Az Chashme Saqi' went number one on PlayTv Charts and by the end of 2009 it was declared the third best music video of 2009.
In February 2010, Hadiqa released 'Janan', for which she collaborated with relatively unknown Pashto singer Irfan Khan. The song has become her biggest hit till date and some say that it has even topped the popularity of Boohey Barian. The song became the first Pakistani pop song to be mentioned by the Los Angeles Times, where the newspaper said that Janan was what the whole country was listening to. Her rendering in the Pashto language was critically acclaimed. Some Pakhtoons even started to call her Hadiqa Pathani, she is credited with bringing back a trend in Pakistan of embracing Pashto culture, girls started to wear Pashto style dresses imitating her looks on the red carpet and more mainstream singers began singing in the local language.
The song's widespread popularity was credited to the fact that it broke barriers in Pakistani music, Hadiqa being a Punjabi singing a Pashto song and appealing to not only Pakistani Pashto audiences, but to audiences worldwide. Her Janan has been covered by many international singers, most noticeably by the Chinese singer Hou Wei at the grand South Asia Expo in 2014. The Chinese cover was done as a tribute to Pakistani culture which elevated the Pashto community in Pakistan while, what many say, cementing the song as a national treasure.
In 1995, Hadiqa signed a string of Pakistani films as a playback singer, most notably the Adnan Sami Khan film Sargam (1995). Sargam went on to win various awards for Hadiqa, including that of 'Best Female Playback Singer' at the prestigious Nigar Awards. Since Sargam however, she has been mostly absent from playback singing in Pakistan. The exception came in 2011 when she became one of the primary playback singers for Shoaib Mansoor's film Bol. The film featured four of Hadiqa's songs, two of which were collaborations with Atif Aslam. The soundtrack of the film saw positive reviews and received four Lux Style Awards nominations for Kiani and Aslam.
In 2006, Hadiqa was featured on UK based producer Khiza's album Loyal To, “The Game's lead single” and “Mehr Ma”. The song was an instant success in Pakistan, and was seen as a great return to pop music for Hadiqa after her ballads in Rung. In the video, Hadiqa was seen with different hairstyles and outfits. The reviews for the song were favourable, one source said that Mehr Ma, which starts off the album, is easily the best track on it. With Hadiqa showcasing her top-notch vocals and the music, which remains hip-hopish yet very desi, thanks to the usage of sitar, tabla makes it an excellent number. Hadiqa also performed the song at the 2006 Lux Style Awards.
Over the years, Hadiqa has provided vocals for a select list of TV Dramas such as the critically acclaimed 2011 Drama Zindagi Gulzar Hai's title track with Ali Zafar and the 2006 'Aas Pass' with Atif Aslam. In May 2012, Hadiqa appeared on the 5th season of Rohail Hyatt's Coke Studio. Apart from studio recordings, in 2005 Hadiqa Kiani was appointed by the government of Pakistan as an official representative of the country.
On 11 August 2005, Hadiqa Kiani performed in Nagoya for the Prime Minister of Japan Junichirō Koizumi. She then performed in Toronto on 14 Aug 2005 by request of The Pakistani Consulate. She performed in Houston on 13 August 2005. The show was at Sam Houston Race Park, and it was attended by over 15000 people. Chief guest of the show was Sheila Jackson Lee who is a member of the US House of Representatives. In the same month, she performed at the Mets Shea Stadium New York on 18 August 2005. Hadiqa closed the month of August with a performance at the Pakistan Parade in New York on 28 August 2005.
On 2 October 2005, Hadiqa Kiani performed in Malaysia at the newly built Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur downtown. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Shaukat Aziz was the chief guest of the show. The show was part of Expo 2005 in Malaysia. Important business and political personalities from both countries attended the show. Hadiqa sang a song in Malay to show respect to the Malaysian people.
Hadiqa Kiani represented Pakistan on the 25th Anniversary of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) in Turkey. Islamic Countries such as Azerbaijan, U.A.E, Iran, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Turkey, Pakistan and Yemen took part in the celebrations. The event was organised by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. She performed at the AKM Opera House on 23 November 2005. Among the audience were musicians from various countries. The biggest surprise for the audience was said to be when Hadiqa sang 'Sanalama' (Turkish song of Living Legend Sezen Aksu). She told the audience that as Turkey stood beside Pakistan in good and bad times, she wanted to convey the love of Pakistani people for the Turks.
Hadiqa also told the audience that she visited Turkey as a child star in 80s and represented Pakistan in the International Children’s Festival in Turkey so she had beautiful childhood memories associated with Turkey. The audience gave her a standing ovation at the end of her performance, The Mayor of Istanbul appreciated her and presented a bouquet of flowers to her. After her performance she received invitations to participate in the upcoming Art festivals in various countries such as Iran, Syria, Qatar and Lebanon. During her stay in Istanbul she officially visited various historical sites in Turkey and conveyed the love of Pakistan for Turkey. Her performance in Istanbul made headlines in various Turkish Newspapers.
Hadiqa Kiani performed in China for the Chinese Premier on 21 Feb 2006. The following month, she performed for President George W. Bush on 4 March 2006. Commenting on her performance, Bush said Ms. Hadiqa Kiani is extremely talented and should sing here (United States) more. She then performed for the Crown Prince of Brunei Al-Muhtadee Billah Bolkiah on 29 May 2006.
Hadiqa Kiani performed as per the request of former First Lady of the United States, Laura Bush on 21 September 2006 at The Kennedy Center, in Washington, D.C. She closed the year by performing for Prince Charles of the United Kingdom and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall on 30 October 2006 and again in China for the Chinese president on 23 November 2006.
In May 2007, Hadiqa Kiani performed at Dead Sea in Jordan for 28 Heads of States at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa. Her performance took place on the second day of the three-day event while American singer Lionel Richie performed the first day. Among her setlist for the night was the Arabic song titled 'Ah W Nos' by Nancy Ajram which Kiani covered and then sang again the following year in Pakistan.
In August 2007, Hadiqa was one of the headliners for the London Day Parade at Trafalgar Square, London which was broadcast by Geo TV to celebrate 60 years of Independence for Pakistan. She was the only singer who sang completely live that day. Hadiqa was also part of closing the show with the popular patriotic song Jeevay Pakistan alongside Ali Zafar.
In March 2007, Hadiqa was one of the many artists featured in a widely popular track called Yeh Hum Naheen. In this song, various Pakistani artists joined to send out a message that the stereotype of Pakistanis is not correct and that they oppose Terrorism. The song also conveys an anti-terrorism sentiment in the music video and supported the anti-terrorism campaign, Yeh Hum Naheen, which Hadiqa is heavily involved with. Other artists in the song include Ali Zafar, Shafqat Amanat Ali and the Strings duo. The song was picked up by international networks such as Fox News and BBC and amassed a significant number of downloads.
In August 2010, Hadiqa Kiani worked with local Pakistanis along with the Pakistan Army to provide clothing, water, food and shelter to the flood victims of Pakistan following the devastating 2010 Pakistan floods. She also appeared in Geo Tv's telethon Pukaar along with Pop star Ali Zafar to appeal for donations. In collaboration with Pakistan Army, Hadiqa made visits to Multan Relief Camp, Basti Kalraywala, Muzaffarabad and other flood hit areas, personally distributing goods to the affectees.
In November 2010, Hadiqa Kiani was appointed United Nations Development Programme Goodwill ambassador after being recognized for her individual philanthropic efforts. Following being appointed, Kiani continued to construct housing facilities in Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the flood victims till she completed over 250 houses. Nowshera was one of the worst flood hit areas in the country.
Hadiqa Kiani works regularly with the Edhi Foundation and has been involved with many other charitable organizations, including Muslim Hands, SOS Villages and UNICEF. She has also campaigned and been the ambassador for Shaukat Khanum, OXFAM International and since 2010 the United Nations.In April 2015, Hadiqa headlined the Music Mela and introduced her new Qawwali sound at the 3-day festival arranged by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. The former Pop Queen of Pakistan debuted herself as a Qawwali artist to positive feedback upon the end of the Mela, Hadiqa announced that she would be working on her sixth studio album titled 'Wajd'.
On August 15, 2015, Daily Times (Pakistan) listed Hadiqa as the 15th part of their 30 name list of celebrated Pakistanis who have brought a great deal of pride for their country, other names on the list titled Pride of Pakistan included Academy Award winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Malala Yousafzai and national hero Abdul Sattar Edhi.
Hadiqa Kiani resides in Pakistan with her mother, who has been paralyzed since 2006. She has adopted a child as her son in 2005 from the Edhi Foundation after the 2005 Earthquake. Later, she married a UK-based Afghani businessman, Syed Fareed Sarwary. In 2008, she divorced Sarwary.
Hadiqa Kiani has received numerous local and international awards and also has performed at the most prestigious venues in the world, including Royal Albert Hall and The Kennedy Center. In 2006, she received the highest Pakistan civilian award, the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, for her contributions to the field of music. In 2010, she was appointed as a United Nations Development Programme Goodwill ambassador, making her the first woman in Pakistan to a Goodwill ambassador to the United Nations.