Naghma (نغمه ښاپېرۍ; born Shaperei on 1964) is a prominent Afghan singer who started in the early 1980s. She and her ex-husband, Mangal, were a popular musical duo who dominated Afghan music scene during the 1980s and early 1990s. Naghma sings mostly in Pashto, but also occasionally in Dari. Her music is popular in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and among the Pashtun diaspora. She is the most popular female celebrity in Afghanistan according to Afghans. Naghma continues to be the voice and face of Pashtun traditional music.
Naghma was born as Shaperei (ښاپېرۍ, meaning “fairy”) on 1964, in Kandahar, Afghanistan. She belongs to the Pashtun ethnic group, but insists on looking at all Afghans as one irrespective of their ethnicity. She was the eldest daughter in a family of five boys and three girls. Her father’s name is Syed Suleiman Shah and her mother is Bibi Mashala. Her father was from North Afghanistan. He died when Naghma was still a girl of five years old. As a young girl, she developed an interest in music. She used to sing for her school band in Ayno Lece in Kandahar. At sixteen she moved to Kabul with her paternal uncle. She continued her secondary education at Rabia Balkhi Lece where she also was performing in the girl’s band as a vocalist. Naghma came from a conservative family and had to overcome obstacles before she could become a singer. Her family wanted her to exceed in academia while Naghma had a fine eye for the arts.
At the very young age, just a year before finishing her High School she married Mangal, an already popular Pashto singer from Afghanistan, and consequently left school to advance her musical career. They were instant celebrities, recording hits that are famous to this day. She was confident then that she had made the right decision. In Mangal she found a husband who was not only encouraging of her music but was training her and refining her musical taste. Even after their divorce, Naghma maintains that Mangal was the most important person to her career and understanding of music. Her early songs were based on Kandahari music, most of which were folkloric in nature. Coming from a traditional family, she met with much resistance from relatives who saw singing as taboo for Afghan women. Naghma has often stated in interviews that till today her mother is still not happy with her career choice. However, Naghma was not discouraged by this. In Mangal, her husband was very supportive and as duos the pressure from society was much more bearable as opposed to being a solo artist at that time. Like many other Afghan families, the Russian invasion and the subsequent Afghan civil war forced Naghhma and her family to leave Afghanistan temporarily. She first moved to India, then settled in Pakistan for a period and eventually settled in the United States in the year 2000.
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