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A maestro is someone who is defined as ‘a master in an art.’ It is especially true for those people who are in the music field as composers, conductors or music teachers. Usman Riaz is one such individual.
Described as a musical genius by many, Usman Riaz, began dabbling in guitar at the age of 16 and also taught himself some mandolin and sitar while he was at it. At home he was classically trained in piano from the age of 6 and counts his family as his greatest influence when it comes to music. Usman is the grandson of the legendary Zia Mohyeddin while his grandmother is a trained eastern classical musician – whom he cites as his biggest influence. Not just that, Usman credits his grandmother, from whom he received all his early knowledge, for everything he knows.
And it is his intricate understanding of music that has Usman Riaz the toast of the music industry in Pakistan. It was also exactly that which caught the eye of Salman Ahmed – member of Pakistan’s iconic rock band, Junoon and made him a part of Junoon-20, the band’s 20th anniversary album. Usman recorded a haunting instrumental version of Junoon’s hit single Saeen which was lauded by his peers and fans alike. “I was thrilled and honored,” he told media in Pakistan. He has also collaborated with Ali Noor of the band Noori and other artists on a music show called Uth Records.
Usman seems unconcerned and unfazed with the fact that there really isn’t a market for his ‘kind’ of music in a country like Pakistan. Obsessed with bubblegum pop and Indian soap culture and films, Pakistanis are most likely to listen to Atif Aslam and Sonu Nigam than Usman Riaz’s brilliant pieces. But that doesn’t stop Usman Riaz – the market, he insists, would make itself for his kind of music. And it is his faith in God and belief in his work that has opened new ventures for him.
Signed by EMI, Electronic Music Industries – a Pakistani record label, Usman released his first album Flashes & Sparks– his debut single Firefly is getting a lot of play on Pakistani music channels and radio stations. With talent on Usman’s side, there are collaborations popping up from the Pakistani rock scene. Usman has also made quite a few solo appearances in the recent past much to the delight of his fans. But perhaps what is much more delightful is the fact that Usman is getting recognition on a national level. He has reportedly written the score of a new Urdu-language drama film called ‘Seedlings’ about a young couple struck by tragedy – no doubt making it one of the most anticipated projects to look forward to in the future.
The simple fact is, Usman Riaz’s work is brilliant. For someone who is a ‘self taught’ guitarist, Usman’s work shines with its’ clean, clear and hypnotic sound. His haunting and intricate melodies speak straight to your soul. The depth and maturity that you see in Usman’s work is way beyond his years. This is definitely one person to look out for in the future.