Adnan Sami (Urdu: عدنان سمیع) is a Pakistani singer, musician, pianist, actor and composer. with a command on Indian and Western Classical/ Semi-Classical notes, Jazz, Rock & Pop music. Born to Naureen and Arshad Sami Khan in London, UK, he is a Canadian citizen of Pakistani ancestry and currently works and lives in Mumbai, India. Having received his formal training in South Asian Classical music from the famous Santoor Maestro Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, his music merges Asian and Western music styles and instrumentation. His career has ranged from Classical Music (South Asian and Western) to Jazz to modern Pop-Rock.
Early life and education:
Born in London, UK, to a Pakistani Pathan father (Arshad Sami Khan) and an Indian mother (Naureen Khan), Sami was brought up as an aristocrat and educated in the United Kingdom. Arshad went on to become an accomplished Pakistani diplomat, serving as Ambassador of Pakistan to more than 14 countries and also as Federal Secretary to the Government of Pakistan. Sami attended Rugby School in Rugby, West Midlands, UK. He has played the piano since the age of 5 and composed his first piece of the music when he was 9 years old. Sami began taking lessons from Pandit Shivkumar Sharma when visiting India during his school vacations. 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.
As a teenager Adnan, when performing on the piano at a TV program in Stockholm, was noticed by the famous US based Keyboard Magazine as being the 'Fastest man on Keyboard in the world & the Keyboard Discovery of the Nineties'. Adnan went on to learn Indian classical music from Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, 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 graduated from King's College, University of London and became the first person to play Indian classical music on the electric piano.
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 & recorded in his voice for the United Nations & UNICEF called "Run for his life". This was followed by 3 more No. 1s, "Talk To Me", "Get Out of My Face!"&"You're My Best Kept Secret".
His first formal album was an Indian classical album on the piano accompanied by tabla maestro Ustad 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 Pakistani film, in which Adnan was the lead actor and famous 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. Till date Sargam is the only film Adnan acted in and is the biggest selling album of all time in Pakistan. The film and its soundtrack continue to be a milestone for Pakistan's film & musical industry.
In 2000, Asha Bhosle teamed up again with him 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, which featured model Aditi Gowitrikar and Lift Karaa De featuring the popular Indian actor Govinda were very popular at that time. The videos were shot by Anil Mehta who has shot popular Hindi films like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Lagaan. After the 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. Because of the 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 (2001) sung by Adnan had become a rage and was a superhit.Screen Magazine called him the pop personality of the year in 2001.
In 2002, Pepsi Foods made Adnan its brand ambassador for India, a contract which involved hosting a series of live music concerts across cities. Adnan featured in numerous ads for Pepsi products. He is the only artiste in all of Asia & Europe who has endorsed Pepsi Cola '&' 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 famous Hindi movie lyricist Sameer. According to the Screen Magazine, it was the only successful pop album of the year
"Tera Chehra" had further broken sale records by becoming the biggest selling album of 2002 (including film soundtracks) in India and continued its No.1 position in 2003 and the biggest selling Indian album of all time (including film soundtracks) in USA and Canada. The album had been in the No. 1 position in all the music charts of India from the time of its release in September 2002 and continued to do so for over a year all over India thus beating his debut album's No.1 record set earlier by himself.
Hindi film 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).
To acknowledge his great achievement in sales, the premier music TV channel MTV honoured him by awarding him a special award called the "Breakthrough Artiste of the Year" - An award especially instituted for this achievement of which Adnan Sami is the first recipient.
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" fromAayitha 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 hit 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 was a big hit. 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 2006, he took a sabbatical and reportedly lost over 160 kg to make a comeback in April 2007 with a new smash hit album "Kisi Din". In 2007, he sang the soundtrack "Dil Kya Kare" from the hit 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 many more.
As a classical concert pianist, Adnan Sami has had the honour of giving "solo" Royal Command Performances before such Royalty as the King of Sweden and King Hussein of Jordan. He has also performed for Heads of State and Governments such as President Mitterrand of France, President of the United Arab Emirates, President and Prime Minister of India, President and Prime Minister of Pakistan, President and Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, 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, which became immensely popular all over the nation. 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 organising a worldwide live concert with artistes representing different parts of the world who performed before a global audience via satellite; from India, Adnan 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 prestigious 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. To mark this historic occasion, the Government of India organised a year long festivities which culminated by 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 as 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, which became popular world-wide.
Adnan was first married to actress Zeba Bakhtiar (her second marriage) in 1993 from whom he has a son Azaan Sami Khan. They divorced after 3 years.
In 2001, Adnan married Dubai based Arab Sabah Galadari and it was her second marriage as well. This relationship quit after a year-and-a-half. It was reported in the media that Sabah left him because he was obese.
In 2004, Sami revealed himself as a huge fan of composers S. D. Burman and his son R. D. Burman
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 kg (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 for a 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 for shaping him as a musician.
Adnan married for the third time on 29 January 2010, with an Afghan origin woman, Roya Faryabi, the daughter of a retired diplomat & Army General. According to media, Adnan first met Roya in India and proposed to her after some time, while Roya says that she always liked Adnan and he is the best match for her.
In October 2013, Maharashtra Navnirman Chitrapat Karmachari Sena, the film wing of Raj Thackeray lead Maharashtra Navnirman Sena asked Adnan Sami to leave India on expiry of his visa.
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.
He was invited to be a member of the jury of the prestigious music festival Voice of Asia competition, held annually at Almaty, Kazakhstan - the jury comprises top music composers of the world. He was featured in a documentary, commissioned by the Foreign and Common Wealth Office of Great Britain, about ten people from the Indian subcontinent, who have influenced the Asian culture in the UK over the last fifty years. 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 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.
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.