Faakhir Shakes Sacramento Earthquake Fundraiser
By Ras H. Siddiqui
Faakhir
Sir Punj
Shakila
Omar Khan
Naeem Syed
Imran
Sohail Shahzad
Sami Siddiqui

Sacramento: Sunday, January 22nd 2006 was an uplifting day for the Pakistani-American community in Sacramento, California as over 500 people gathered at the local La Sierra Community Center in Carmichael to raise money for the victims of the October 8 Earthquake in Pakistan.
It really was a special evening because Faakhir Mehmood, the “Mahi ve” man, headlined the entertainment here along with Shakila and locals Dream Sounds, Sir Punj, Imran of the Pehchan Group plus Zaki Syed.
The evening started off a bit late, not because of the organizers but the audience which showed up according to Pakistan time, a fashionable 1.5 hours after the announced start.

Dream Sound
Shakila and local ladies
Faakhir with his many fans

But in any case locally well-known personality Naeem Syed started things off on the stage by inviting young Omar Khan to recite from the Holy Qur’an. Omar also proceeded with the English translation of the recitation which is customary in our gatherings here.
The singing of the American and the Pakistani National Anthem by a group of community children (and one senior citizen) led by Tanya Syed followed. The Star Spangled Banner and Pak Sar Zameen were both extremely well received.
Naeem came back on the stage and reiterated the reasons for this gathering namely Eid, and Earthquake Relief (donations to the Helping Hands & Give to Save). The on-screen Eartquake DVD presentation was delayed for another time due to technical difficulties.

Zaki Syed
Organizers of the earthquake fundraiser

The first group invited to perform was Dream Sounds from nearby Woodland. Brothers Anwar Ali and Abrar Ali gave a solid demonstration of their skills with songs from their recently released CD. This group sang songs in English, Punjabi and Urdu.
The next item was by Zaki Sayed, an emerging rap singer from this area whose “Humara Pakistan” was a big hit amongst the youngsters in the crowd. Zaki was followed by Imran of the Pehchan Entertainment Group who sang songs from their upcoming CD. Imran’s “Mujh ko hi mujh say chura le gayi” was well received here. Pehchaan is developing into quite a local Desi musical effort.

National anthems of Pakistan and America are sung by a group of youngsters

Event organizer Sohail Shahzad next came on to the stage and highlighted the need for this continued Earthquake Relief effort. He asked everyone to contribute to Helping Hands and took the opportunity of thanking the local Sacramento Pakistani-American Association (Bashir Choudhry, Mohammed Amin and Zubair Qureshi) along with a number of individuals for their help in organizing this Eid Mela fundraising event. He also took the opportunity to introduce Faakhir.
Faakhir Mehmood is a young man of many accomplishments. Besides being a singer and musician, he is also educated as an Electrical Engineer (in Pakistan many young singers and musical group members also sometimes happen to be doctors or engineers). He started out as the main force in the Pakistani group AWAZ in the early 90’s and has since gone solo with two main CD’s (or albums if you will) the first of which was “Atish” and the latest one called “Mantra” (2005) out of which his “Mahi ve” Salsa style of music is getting rave reviews. And another of his many accomplishments is what we discovered here in Sacramento, that being Faakhir’s extremely very well mannered persona and show of concern for human beings that need help.

Fans enjoy Faakhir’s performance

Faakhir started off by saying that he was here in America where his mother was getting medical treatment when the earthquake hit Pakistan in October 2005. He said that he was now doing free shows and wanted to give back “to the country that has given me everything. “Pakistan and Pakistanis is why I am here,” he said. He added that he really liked the idea of mobile hospitals for the affected area after a visit that he made to Pakistan and that he would like to raise funds for Helping Hands for 5 of them. A mobile hospital, he explained, consists of three vehicles, one ambulance and two trucks. “Gana bajana to apni jagah hai. Chalo is bahanay Sacramento kay logons say mulaqaat ho gai.” Faakhir said that he appreciated what others can do (however little) but that Pakistanis need to do this rebuilding themselves. Aakhir mein Allah Khair Karay Ga”
After saying “Gana to aik bahana hai” (music is just an excuse) Faakhir proceeded to sing the melodious “Jiya na jaye” from his latest “Mantra” CD and then a song from “Aatish”. He then left the stage to Shakila to entertain the audience.
Shakila is a Bangladeshi-born, Indian-tutored singer who lives in Pakistan and is touring with Faakhir for this earthquake relief effort. She thanked everyone for being here and for their support before she started off with a really catchy number. Shakila’s rendition of the late Nazia Hasan’s “Aao na” and Farida Khanum’s “Jhumpka chandni ka” were well received but the more classical “Humay tum say piyar itna” was possibly her best. I spoke with Shakila and found out that her High School in Dhaka (Saint Francis) was next door to mine (Saint Josephs). Maybe on her next visit we will ask her to sing a Bengali number for us.

Faakhir and a young fan

The biggest Desi musical talent to come out of Sacramento thus far is SirPunj (formerly known as TJ Kool). Sirpunj performed three songs at this gathering. His CD “Kehra pind tera” is being released this year. We hope to hear a great deal more from him soon.
Faakhir returned and everyone got seriously into fundraising. People of all ages, especially women (his good looks don’t hurt) and many children came up to the stage to donate. The top price paid for an auctioned Faakhir CD was $200. Around $15000 was raised in a short interval, quite remarkable since this is very late in the earthquake fundraising season for this area and most of our community is now quite low on donation cash at the moment.
And on the entertainment side Faakhir did not disappoint and actually got some Sacramento women fans to dance (which is quite unique for this conservative community). He sang the very popular “Mahi Ve”, “Mast Qalandar” and even an Indian song upon request (he was helped by Shakila and three ladies from the audience in this one). His “Toba Hai” to all the beautiful women out there was also very well received along with the “Jugni”.
Sami Siddiqui made the strongest earthquake fundraising appeal and the program ended with more music and on a very high note. Congratulations are in order to all the entertainers and attendees for making this a memorable evening. The Sacramento Pakistani-American community has shown once again that it cares about the people back in Pakistan.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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