Adnan Sami is a singer, musician, pianist, actor and composer with a command of Indian and Western Classical/Semi-Classical music, Jazz, Rock, Pop, Indian Classical music, Fusion & Indian Film music. He is also popularly known as being the 'Fastest Keyboard player in the world & the Keyboard Discovery of the Nineties' (described by the US based Keyboard Magazine). Born to Naureen and Arshad Sami Khan in London, UK, he is a Canadian citizen of Pakistani, Indian, Afghan ancestry who currently works and lives in Mumbai, India.
Early life and education:
Born in 1969 London, United Kingdom to Naureen Khan and Arshad Sami Khan, Sami was brought up as an aristocrat and educated in the United Kingdom.His father was originally from Herat, Afghanistan.His Grand Fathers were among the 'Key' Cabinet Members of Afghanistan's King Amanullah Khan. Their names were General Ahmed Jan - Military Advisor to the King of Afghanistan - Amanullah Khan & General Agha Mehfooz Jan - Governor of Herat, Kandahar, Balkh & Jalalabad in Afghanistan during the Reign of King Amanullah Khan. At the time of the famous Bacha Saqqa revolution in Afghanistan, Khan's Grand Fathers were assassinated. The family therefore migrated to Peshawar which was a part of British India at that time. Adnan's father Arshad Sami Khan further served 3 Presidents of Pakistan as their Aide-de-Camp (ADC) ; He also served 5 Presidents & Prime Ministers of Pakistan as their Chief of Protocol. Arshad went onto become an accomplished Pakistani diplomat having served as Ambassador of Pakistan to more than 14 countries & also as Federal Secretary to the Government of Pakistan. Arshad also had the distinction of being the first Commissioner General of Pakistan. Sami attended Rugby School in Rugby, West Midlands, UK.
Adnan was born in a privileged family & is of Pashtun origin. His mother Naureen Sami Khan is originally from Jammu, India. Adnan attended the prestigious 450 year old Rugby School where amongst the many famous former students include Sir Edward Heath (Former Prime Minister of Great Britain) and Salman Rushdie. The game Rugby was invented in this school and hence named after the school. He went on to graduate in Journalism & Political Science from the University of London. Adnan followed his Bachelor's Degree with a Law degree (L.L.B) from the prestigious Kings College, London. He had played the piano since the age of five & composed his first piece of music when he was nine years old. He went on to learn more than 35 musical instruments. Sami began taking lessons from Pandit Shivkumar Sharma when visiting India during his school vacations.8 Indian singing legend Asha Bhosle spotted talent in a ten-year-old Sami at an R D Burman concert in London, and encouraged him to take up music as a career. He is an accomplished Concert Pianist, Music Composer and Singer with a special command on all Indian and Western Classical/semi-classical notes, Jazz, Rock & Pop music. As a teenager, Adnan, when performing on the piano at a TV program in Stockholm, was noticed by the US based Keyboard Magazine as being the 'Fastest man on Keyboard in the world & the Keyboard Discovery of the Nineties'. Sami went on to learn Indian classical music from Pandit Shivkumar Sharma,16 the Santoor maestro in India. At the age of sixteen, Sami was approached to write a song for famine-hit Ethiopia for which he won a special award from UNICEF. He also won a peace medal from the United Nations for his effort. He went onto become the first person to play Indian classical music on the electric piano. In his career of 25 years, Adnan Sami has won many International Awards including the "Nigar Award", "Bolan Academy Award", "Graduate Award". Adnan is the youngest recipient of the "NAUSHAD MUSIC AWARD" for Excellence in Music. The previous recipients of this Award include names like Lata Mangeshkar and Music Maestro Khayam. Adnan was invited as a member of the jury of the prestigious music festival "Voice of Asia" competition held annually at Almaty, Kazhakstan. The members of this jury were top music composers of the world. Adnan has been featured in a documentary recently commissioned by the Foreign and Common Wealth Office of Great Britain amongst exclusive ten famous names from the sub-continent of India, who have influenced the Asian culture in the UK over the last fifty years. He graduated from King's College London.
Adnan's first single was released in 1986 with an English smash hit single in the Middle East which went straight to No.1 position in its first week entry onto the music charts of the region with a song he wrote and recorded in his voice for the United Nations and UNICEF called "Run for his life". This was followed by 3 more No.1s, "Talk To Me", "Hot Summer Day" & "You're My Best Kept Secret".
His first formal album was an Indian classical album on the piano accompanied by tabla maestro Zakir Hussain in 1989 called "The One & Only". He had his first vocal solo album "Raag Time" in 1991. The song from his album "Teri Yaad" was the title track of his first album which became a huge hit in Pakistan.
In 1994, he composed music for a film for the first time. The 1995 Pakistani film, Sargam in which Adnan was the lead actor and well known Indian playback singer Asha Bhosle did the playback Sargam, was a blockbuster. It was also the first time that an Indian playback singer was featured in an album in Pakistan. However, the authorities banned Asha's voice from the soundtrack in the actual film, which disappointed Adnan. He then had to re-record the songs with Hadiqa Kiyani.Asha's voice was retained however in the CDs & records. To date Sargam is the only film Adnan acted in & is the biggest selling album of all time in Pakistan. The film & its soundtrack continue to be a milestone in Pakistan's film & musical history.
In 2000, Asha Bhosle teamed up again with Adnan to release a collection of love songs named Kabhi to Nazar Milao in India. The music was also composed by Adnan. The album became an instant blockbuster and had topped the Indipop charts for the most of 2001 & 2002. According to Business Week magazine, the album sold 4 million copies in India alone.
Two songs from the album, Kabhi To Nazar Milao, whose music video featured model Aditi Gowitrikar and Lift Karaa De whose music video starred the popular Indian actor Govinda became immensely popular at that time. The videos were shot by Anil Mehta who had shot popular Hindi films like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Lagaan. Looking at the immense success of that album, Magnasound and Adnan released an album named Always Yours which was a remix version of numbers from that album.
He soon became a sensation, which led Hindi filmmaker Boney Kapoor to invite him to give music for his film. This was the beginning for him to compose and sing for Hindi films and even for the top Hindi film producers of the time like Yash Chopra and Subhash Ghai etc. Due to the immense popularity of his music videos and live performances, he started getting acting offers at the same time.
The song, "Tu Sirf Mera Mehboob", from Hindi film, Ajnabee sung by Adnan had become a rage and was declared a superhit by Screen Magazine called him the pop personality of the year in 2001.
In 2002, Pepsi Foods made Adnan its brand ambassador in India, a contract which involved hosting a series of live music concerts across cities as well as Adnan featuring in ads for Pepsi products. He is the only artist in all of Asia & Europe to have endorsed Pepsi Cola and Coca-Cola together.
According to the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, no Pakistani artist has ever managed to gain as much popularity in India as Adnan has. According to an article in the Indian newspaper The Times of India, Adnan is the most successful face in non-film music in India.
His second studio album, "Tera Chehra", which was released in October 2002 to critical eulogies even as his first album was still selling. The music videos for this album were shot by Binod Pradhan who has shot the popular Hindi film Devdas, directed by Bela Sehgal. The album features popular Bollywood stars Rani Mukerji in the title track, Amitabh Bachchan in the track "Kabhi Nahi", who also sang the duet with Adnan. Actress Mahima Chaudhry was also seen in another song. The title track was written by well known Hindi movie lyricist Sameer. According to the Screen Magazine, it was the only successful pop album of the year
Saathiya (2002) brought him the opportunity to work with maestro A. R. Rahman in the form of "Aye Udi Udi", which he was looking forward to. According to Screen Magazine, the song was the highlight of the album.Rediff.com called him the "Reigning King of Indipop" in early 2003 based on the sales of his albums in the past two years.
His most successful albums have been Kabhi To Nazar Milao (with Asha Bhosle) and Tera Chehra, and his music videos usually have had a host of Bollywood stars in them, including Namrata Shirodkar ("Bheegi Bheegi Raat"), Mahima Chaudhry, Raveena Tandon, Rani Mukerji ("Tera Chehra"), Govinda, Fardeen Khan, Amisha Patel ("O Meri Jaan"), Bhumika Chawla ("Maahiya"), Dia Mirza ("Pal Do Pal") and the most famous, Amitabh Bachchan (Kabhi Nahi). 3435
In 2006, he took a sabbatical, and reportedly lost over 160 kg,37 to make a comeback in April 2007 with a new smash hit album Kisi Din. In 2007, he sang the soundtrack of the hit Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute to Love. "Noor-e-Khuda" from My Name is Khan to name a few, have only added to Adnan's popularity. He has composed film music for several films including Lucky, Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke, Dhamaal, 1920, Chance pe Dance, Mumbai Salsa, Khubsoorat, Sadiyaan & Shaurya to name a few.
Since 2003, he has sung for a few Tamil movies like Boys, Aaytha Ezhuthu composed by A.R. Rahman. The songs, "Boom Boom" from Boys and "Nenjamellam Kadhal" from Aayitha Ezhuthu, were hits. He also sang for the Tamil and Telugu versions besides the Hindi version of songs from the movie Yuva (2004) whose music was also composed by A. R. Rahman. Besides Rahman, he also worked together with composer Yuvan Shankar Raja, and sung Tamil songs "Oh Intha Kadhal" from Satham Podathey and "OruKal" from Siva Manasula Sakthi, which got very popular and widely noticed. He sang the song "Chanchadi Adi Urang Nee" in the Malayalam movie called Makalkku. He has also sung for a Kannada film. His first Kannada song, "Don't Worry Madabeda" for the film Super Star starring Upendra. He has also worked with music composers Devi Sri Prasad and M. M. Keeravani and sang songs in Telugu films Varsham, Chatrapathi, Shankar Dada MBBS and 100% Love. In 2005, Adnan suffered from lymphoedema and developed an abscess in the knee which caused a breakdown in Adnan's career.
In 2006, he took a sabbatical and reportedly lost over 160 kg to make a comeback in April 2007 with the album "Kisi Din". In 2007, he sang the soundtrack "Dil Kya Kare" from the Hindi film Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute to Love and "Noor-e-Khuda" from My Name Is Khan to name a few. He has composed film music for several other Hindi films including Lucky: No Time for Love, Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke, Dhamaal, 1920, Chance Pe Dance, Mumbai Salsa, Khubsoorat, Sadiyaan, Shaurya and few others.
As a classical concert pianist, Adnan Sami has had the honor of giving solo Royal Command Performances before such Royalty as the King of Sweden and King Hussein of Jordan. He has also performed before Heads of State and Governments such as President Mitterrand of France, President of United Arab Emirates, President and Prime Minister of India, President and Prime Minister of Pakistan, President and Prime Minister of Khazakhstan, Prime Minister of Kyrgistan, Prime Minister of Sweden and Princess Christina of Sweden. Apart from this, Adnan has performed for prestigious Music Festivals to sold-out Stadiums of his solo concert tours all over the world in over forty countries.
Adnan Sami had written a song for India to cheer the Indian Cricket team during the World Cup Cricket 2003. The video of this song captures the nationalistic spirit of competition depicting Adnan performing with the Indian Cricket Team along with guest appearances from Indian film stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Fardeen Khan and Kareena Kapoor.
His work has associated him with the greatest names from the Indian film and music industry ranging from Lata Mangeshkar, Dev Anand, Amitabh Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha, Asha Bhosle, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Rajesh Roshan, A. R. Rahman, Anu Malik, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, Sameer, Subhash Ghai, Mani Ratnam, Rakesh Roshan, Feroz Khan to Pandit Jasraj, Begum Parveen Sultana, Pandit ShivKumar Sharma, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Ustad Sultan Khan and Ustad Zakir Hussain amongst many others.
On 15 December 2002, BBC World Service celebrated 70 years of broadcasting by organizing a world wide live concert with Artistes representing different parts of the world who performed before a global audience via satellite; From India, Adnan Sami was chosen by B.B.C; TRP feedback reflected that the maximum response globally was given to his performance.
In the summer of 2003, Adnan achieved the distinction of becoming the only artiste from the entire Asian region to have sold out Wembley Stadium in London for two nights in a row- a feat which has won him a place in the Limca Book of World Records. (Asia's equivalent to the West's Guinness Book of World records). In the years 2005, 2008 & 2012 he went onto repeat the same achievement by playing two sold-out concerts, every time, each of these respective years at Wembley Stadium, London, yet again.
In 2010, Adnan received the prestigious "LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD" from the Prime Minister of Pakistan at a ceremony by Pakistan Television.
In 2011, Adnan was bestowed with a very distinguished honour, the "Glory of India Award", by the Government of India. Recently the world famous 'Wonder of the World' the Taj Mahal completed its 350 years of existence. In order to mark this historic occasion, the Government of India organised a year long festivities which culminated with a once in a life time solo concert performance by Adnan on the final Grand finale night in front of the Taj Mahal. After this performance, the Indian media dubbed Adnan the "Sultan of Music".
Adnan hosted the Indian version of the American music game show Don't Forget the Lyrics! called Bol Baby Bol on the Star TV network in 2008. Prior to that in 2005, Adnan was the sole jury for the singing competition program on Channel V called "Super Singer". In 2011, Adnan returned as a judge on the singing reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L'il Champs, that became immensely popular world-wide.
Adnan Sami was first married to actress Zeba Bakhtiar (her third marriage) in 1993 by whom he had a son Azaan Sami Khan. They divorced after three years.
In 2001, Sami married Dubai based Arab Sabah Galadari. This was his second marriage and Sabah's second marriage as well; she had a son from her previous marriage. This relationship also ended in divorce, a year-and-a-half later. It was reported in the media that Sabah left him because he was obese.
In 2005, Adnan suffered from lymphoedema and developed an abscess in the knee. He was in intensive care, had to undergo a risky surgery and was in bed for three months at Cromwell Hospital in London.
In June 2006, Adnan weighed 230 kilograms (506 lb) and according to him, his doctor said he was giving him just six months to live. By diet, exercise and will-power, Adnan lost 145 kg (319 lb) weight in 16 months.
In 2008, Adnan's wife Sabah returned to Mumbai, remarried and began staying with Adnan but the marriage only lasted till one year after which Sabah filed for divorce.
In 2009, Adnan suffered the biggest blow of his life when he lost his father to pancreatic cancer. He was very close to him. His father was an extremely supportive & influential force in his life in shaping him as a musician. Adnan sami is a famous singer also.
Adnan married for the third time on 29 January 2010, with an Afghan origin German girl, Roya Faryabi, the daughter of a retired diplomat & Army General. According to media, Adnan first met Roya in India during her visit in 2010 and proposed to her after some time, while Roya says that she always liked Adnan and he is the best match for her.
Awards and accolades:
Adnan has won many international awards, including the Nigar Award, the Bolan Academy Award, and the Graduate Award. He was given a special award by UNICEF for the song he wrote for famine-hit Ethiopia as a teenager and a United Nations Peace Medal for a song he wrote and performed for Africa.
A review of his piano solo performance on Channel 4, UK, in Keyboard Magazine acknowledged him as the Keyboard Discovery of The 90s.
In 2001, he was awarded the Breakthrough Artist of the Year by MTV.
Swedish and British Radio and Television have often referred to him as the fastest keyboard player in the world. Adnan has performed for prestigious music festivals to sold-out stadiums of his solo concert tours all over the world in over forty countries. In summer 2003, he became the only Asian artist to have sold out, Wembley Stadium, London, for two consecutive nights, which won him a place in the Limca Book of Records.
As a classical concert pianist, Sami has had the honour of giving 'Royal Command' performances before the King of Sweden and King Hussein of Jordan.
In 2008, he was presented the "Naushad Music Award" by Andhra Pradesh Department of Culture, in Hyderabad.
In 2008 he also won "Best International Act" at the UK Asian Music Awards.
In 2013, Adnan was honoured with the BrandLaureate International Brand Personality award by the President of The BrandLaureate, Dr KK Johan, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In 2015, on his recent North America Tour, Adnan was bestowed with the honour of being the first Asian to become the 'Honorary Deputy Sheriff of Texas' at a ceremony held in Houston recently where he was presented with a 'Badge', 'Sheriff Hat' & Appointment Certificate.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license