Adnan Sami (Urdu: عدنان سميع) is a singer, musician, pianist, actor and composer with a command of 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 & Afghan ancestry and currently works and lives in Mumbai, India since 1999. 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."Adnan Sami to sing in Bengali". rediff.com. 13 December 2004. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved 31 January 2009. "'Music is the medium of love'". Pakistan Dawn. 21 December 2003. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved 31 January 2009. "Muslims in Indian music". Screen. Retrieved 31 January 2009. "Urdu to the rescue". Screen. 27 December 2002. Retrieved 31 January 2009. "Adnan Sami: Fastest fingers first". The Times of India. 16 April 2001. Retrieved 31 January 2009. "Adnan Sami feels Indian". mid-day.com. 12 June 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2011. "Soulful singer". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 6 October 2005. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved 31 January 2009. "Fitted for fame". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 13 October 2007. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
Early life and education
Born in 1969 to Naureen and Arshad Sami Khan, Sami was brought up as an aristocrat and educated in London, 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. Adnan was born in a privileged family & is of Pashtun origin. 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. 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, Sami, when performing on the piano at a TV program in Stockholm, was noticed by the famous U.S 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, 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.
Adnan's first single was released in 1986 with an English smash hit single in the Middle East which went straight to No.1 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", "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 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 these 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 with him to release a collection of love songs named Kabhi to Nazar Milao in India. The music was also composed by Adnan. According to Adnan, this was a "dream come true" for him. The album became an instant blockbuster and topped the Indipop charts for most of 2001 & 2002. According to BusinessWeek, 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, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Lagaan. Looking at the immense success of that album, Magnasound and Adnan released an album 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 composing and singing songs for Hindi films very successfully of even the top Hindi film producers of the time like Yash Chopra and Subhash Ghai. Due to the immense popularity of his music videos and live performances, he had even begun getting acting offers at this time. The song, "Tu Sirf Mera Mehboob", from the Hindi film, Ajnabee (2001) sung by Adnan also became 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 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 had managed to gain as much popularity in India as Sami has. According to an article in the Indian newspaper The Times of India, Sami is the most successful face in non-film music in India. His second studio album, Tera Chehra, 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 had shot the popular Hindi film Devdas, directed by Bela Sehgal (director of Devdas Sanjay Leela Bhansali's sister) and featured popular Bollywood stars Rani Mukerji in the title track, Amitabh Bachchan in the track "Kabhi Nahi", who also sang the duet with Adnan and actress Mahima Chaudhry 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. Adnan Sami's Tera Chehra had further broken sale records by becoming the biggest selling album of 2002 (including film soundtracks) in India and continuing its No.1 position in 2003 and the biggest selling Indian album of all time (including film soundtracks) in U.S.A 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. 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 most famously, Amitabh Bachchan ("Kabhi Nahi"). To acknowledge his great achievement in sales, the premier Music TV Channel MTV honored Adnan Sami 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, Aayutha Ezhuthu composed by A.R. Rehman. 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, singing hit Tamil songs "Oh Intha Kadhal" from Satham Podathey and "Oru Kal" 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 sang for a Kannada film. His first Kannada song, "Don't Worry Madabeda" for the film Super Star starring Upendra was a big hit. He also worked with music composers Devi Sri Prasad and MM Keeravani singing 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 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. 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 recently written a song for India to cheer on 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 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 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 honor, the Glory of India Award, by the Government of India. Recently, the Taj Mahal completed its 350 years of existence. In order to mark this historic occasion, the Government of India organized a year long festivities which culminated recently 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 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, Sami 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 from whom he had a son Azaan Sami Khan. They divorced after 3 years. In 2001, Sami married Dubai-based Arab Sabah Galadari his second marriage and her second marriage as well. This relationship also called quits 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 married for the third time on 29th 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.
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."Adnan Sami back for weekend Wembley date". Menmedia.co.uk. 16 October 2008. Retrieved 27 November 2010. "the star has also won many international awards including MTV's "breakthrough artist of the tear award" in 2001, the Nigar Award, Bolan Academy Award and the Graduate Award." "The roly-poly pied piper of op". The Hindu. 17 October 2002. Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 31 January 2009. "Adnan a big hit with Indipop fans". The Tribune. 26 April 2001. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved 1 February 2009. "Play it again, Sami". rediff.com. 20 January 2003. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved 3 February 2009. "Indian Singers: Adnan Sami Khan". Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 29 May 2008. Adnan Sami Biography and Awards. Telepk.com. Retrieved on 3 August 2012. "A concert in Toronto". Pakistan Dawn. 1 June 2003. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved 1 February 2009. Biography. Radioxl.net (15 December 2002). Retrieved on 3 August 2012. "Beyond the frill...". The Hindu. 23 August 2004. Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 1 February 2009. Indian POP stars – Adnan Sami. Indian-music.com. Retrieved on 3 August 2012. Shareef joins AP Culture Dept in honoring Adnan indiapost.com, 21 January 2008. "An eve to remember for Adnan Sami". The Times of India. 17 January 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2009. Nazhat (8 March 2008). "The UK Asian Music Awards 2008". desiblitz.com. Archived from the original on 4 August 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010. "Adnan Sami: Adnan honoured with International Brandlaureate Personality Award". The Times of India. 2 March 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013.