Love for Pakistan
By Talat Sattar
Ten years ago when one of
my friends invited me to a musical concert where a white
American female was the main artist, I flatly refused. Upon
his insistence, I agreed to give him company for a favor
that he owes me now. In spite of my prayer for the cancellation
of that show all the way up to the music hall, it started
just about on time. The concert was completely sold out
and there was only standing room in the hall.
As the proceedings began the white American singer stepped
up to the microphone and began to sing her first Punjabi
song. I was astounded. She played several Punjabi, Hindi
and Urdu songs. All this time I was not believing my eyes
and ears and comforting myself that this is just lip sinking.
Her phrasing and intonation had a precise certainty, whether
she was singing in Urdu, Punjabi or Hindi. There was no
accent in her pronunciation and punctuation of difficult
Urdu and Punjabi words.
Ironically, she can speak none of the languages conversationally.
She is an American. Her name is Janice Miller. Her repertoire,
which she has steadily built up over the last twelve years,
amounts to more than several hundred songs, a majority of
them from popular films. Her greatest influence has been
famed playback singer Asha Bhosle, whom she has met on three
Born in San Francisco Bay Area, Janice Miller grew up around
music, her father a pianist and her mother a percussionist.
Eager to explore exotic drumming techniques, moved the entire
family to Ghana, West Africa. At age seven, Janice discovered
Desi music and movies in local theaters in Ghana.
All her life Janice knew she wanted to sing and after watching
“Alibaba and forty thieves,” she knew this was
exactly what she wanted to do. Her desire for Desi music
was so overwhelming that she would watch the same movie
again and again. Some of her favorite movies are “Rama
Hari Krishna”, “Sangam” and “Yadoon
ki barat” and the songs of that movies are her favorite.
Asha Bhosle was her inspiration. The combination of R. D.
Barman music and Asha Bhosle songs absolutely drove Janice
crazy and her friends could not keep up with Janice’s
obsession with Desi music and every body left her and vice
versa. Janice Miller always constantly fantasized singing
Desi music to the audience.
The beauty, fashion, culture, love and family values of
Desi people had a profound sentimental connection to her
spirit which up to this day cannot be explained. Janice
Miller would stop at nothing to get to the theater. Hema
Malini, Amitabh Bachan, Neetu Sing and Vinod Khanna were
her favorites. Janice did not know any single Desi and she
could not speak a single word of that language but her motivation
was strictly from movies.
New year eve. 1989, finally she got an opportunity to sing
with a local band in Oklahoma City, where she was residing
after coming from Ghana at age 17. Janice Miller cannot
forget her first experience on the stage and her first few
songs on the stage were, “Chura liya hay dil”
and “Aay Mere Humsafar”. Ever since that ground-breaking
performance in 1989, Janice Miller achieved international
fame. She has performed all over the United States and Canada.
Janice has received several offers to perform overseas but
she has not done that yet.
She started singing Punjabi songs in 1992 when few Pakistani
friends convinced Janice to sing Noor Jehan songs. This
language seemed difficult at first but with her dedication
and determination to please her audience, she discovered
Punjabi folk was her specialty. Janice never imagined in
her wildest dreams that she would launch a career singing
Desi songs without speaking the language.
Janice Miller has never visited Pakistan but her love for
Pakistan is so great that she dreams of Pakistan day and
night. She wants to be buried in Pakistan, she just disclosed
that to me on her recent visit to Sacramento.
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was the world known artist but Pakistan
never took advantage of his International fame. Nusrat Fateh
Ali Khan died and was buried very quietly (THE END OF STORY)
but India televised Madam Theresa’s funeral in the
Pakistan has lost several opportunities in the past for
not taking advantage of the nation’s heroes. Janice
is Pakistan’s pride. I hope Pakistan get smarter this
time and fully abridges the relationship between America
and Pakistan. Pakistan can fully exploit Janice Miller’s
talent and position in the USA and benefit from them.