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The Heirs of Maldivian Music

Even in these modern times, musical ancestry can still be traced back to a handful of distinct families, most of whom are well known for their inherited gifts of singing.

Lujine Rasheed
17 May 2018, MVT 16:12
Musicians of the Maldives, and the heirs to their legacies. PHOTO: VARIOUS (See Article).
Lujine Rasheed
17 May 2018, MVT 16:12

Curated grâce à musical spirits of Lujine, and compiled with the love and support of his father, beloved musician ‘Abcy’.

The Maldivian music scene has been on the rise in recent times. Given the current market boom for original music and an increasing need for new talent, the local musicians have persevered through the 90's wave of replicated music and into an in-demand industry that has adapted itself to appreciating originality.

Professional entertainers, gracious music coaches and determined singers; these local musicians are thespians of many a talent.

But where do they come from? What is their journey?

To understand this thoroughly, one has to look to our musically talented forefathers and their everyday practice of songs and singing.

Unmistakably stamped in Dhivehi literature are the various vernacular forms of singing. Different types include singing a Raivaru and reciting a Lheń. A 'Raivaru' is a short song comprising of 3 or 6 verses that are sung in a distinct melody. A 'Lheń' is a recited song that consists of carefully constructed lyrics although the length of these songs are not as rigid.

Raivaru and Lheń were not practiced in theaters but rather its melodic artistry was more ubiquitous in the everyday lives of our ancestors. Singing was regularly employed as a form of communication, proving how strongly regarded the art of music was in our culture. It was considered to be one of the most powerful means of self expression.

Although this practice has all but died down, the powerful aptitude of singing trickled down over the generations. Even in these modern times, musical ancestry can still be traced back to a handful of distinct families, most of whom are well known for their perhaps inherited and passed down, gifts of singing.

Strange as it may be, a majority of contemporary Maldivian singers, even darlings of the millennial music scene, are born from virtuoso musical families. Their legacy doesn't end at a few number one hits or glamorous music videos; going back a generation or two, and in some cases, as far back as multiple generations.

Mariyam Unoosha (Kiddy), daughter of (Beryugé) Shafeega

Unoosha exhibits her undeniable singing talent on MALDIVIAN IDOL. PHOTO: PSM

Mariyam Unoosha or Kiddy, who needs no introduction, is best known for stellar vocals and her recent appearance as a judge on the hit show Maldivian Idol. Little known fact though, is that she too is an heiress to a musically talented family. Mere mention of the name 'Berugé' Shafeega drawing impressive crowds in her heyday, the predecessor of talent in Unoosha's family home is undoubtedly her mother. Famous for her time in the band Olympians, Shafeega was one of the most recognized lead singers to have sung in this band. Almost sealing Unoosha's destiny to reign over the Maldivian music industry, her paternal descent also boasts considerable musical fluency.

Shafeega making an appearance alongside Unoosha on the show Celebrity Time. PHOTO: PSM

Mira Mohamed Majid, daughter of (Mezzo) Mohamed Majid

Mira Singing on stage. PHOTO: HUCEN SAYD

Another notable example would be Mira Mohamed Majid. Or as she is known to most fans as simply 'Mira'. Daughter of Mohamed Majid (Mezzo Mohamed), a decorated singer with hits such as 'Roanu Edhuru' and 'Visnaa Visnaa' under his belt, Majid continues to wow audiences himself, occasionally making appearances alongside Mira in support of his daughter's flourishing career.

Mezzo Mohamed Majid performs at an outdoor venue. PHOTO: MIHAARU

Mauroof Khaleel (Maapu), son of (Fenthashi) Khaleel

Mauroof Khaleel during his performance on Ehandhaangua Retro. PHOTO: AHMED IKLEEL

Mauroof Khaleel (Maapu), perhaps best known for his time in the band 'Sultans' and his hit song 'Jismu Nethigen Gos', is also an heir to a musically apt family. His father Khaleel (Fenthashi), was a noted singer during his time. Some of his most famous songs 'Bulbul ehee dheynuhey' and Mee vee gothey' still enthusiastically sung at Maldivian gatherings. Khaleel is also known for having composed his own songs, for having sung some of them as well.

Fenthashi Khaleel performing on stage during his golden years. PHOTO: FAZEEL KHALEEL

Nishfa Nashid (Nish), daughter of (Fuloo) Ahmed Nashid

Nishfa paying tribute to her father on Maldivian Idol season 2. PHOTO:HUCEN SAYD

An heiress with a tragic story, Nishfa Nashid (Nish) is blessed with a surname that is bound to stop any Maldivian musician in his or her path. Daughter of the late Ahmed Nashid (Fuloo Nashid), the genius behind the number one album in the Maldives to date, and the first artist to gain international acclaim for his work, Nashid and his band mates are responsible for giving us hits such as "Heyambo", 'Marufali' and 'Envaguvee". Today, Nishfa continues to honor her father's remarkable legacy as a musician herself, delivering smooth hits in jazzy tones that though reminiscent of her roots, are entirely her own.

(Fuloo) Ahmed Nashid, pictured mid performance. PHOTO: MOHAMED HAMDHOON / MIHAARU

Andhala Haleem (Anya), daughter of Aishath Inaya

Andhala making an appearance on PB Jam. PHOTO- ICETV

Another talented musician that fits the bill is Andhala Haleem (Anya), daughter of singer Aishath Inaya. Her mother Inaya earned her popularity as one of the most popular playback singers in the local scene, providing vocals to hits such as 'Dhanee Dhanee Merigen Loa' and the ever-sultry 'Kalaa Kalaa'. Andhala is perhaps best known for her famed appearance on the music show 'Raagu'. Since then she has earned her place as a well known artist in the music industry and is currently active as a musician in the Maldives.

Aishath Inaya singing on the show Ehandhaanugaa. PHOTO: PSM

Rishvan Imon (Rittey), son of (Haaburi) Ibrahim Rasheed

Rishvan performs a cover song for his Youtube channel. PHOTO: YOUTUBE.

Rishvan Imon, better known as Rittey is the the uber talented son of music legend, Ibrahim Rasheed (Haaburi). Currently Rishvan is one of the more successful musicians in the Maldives, his hit song 'Oogaavashey' achieving significant popularity amongst local communities. His father, Ibrahim Rasheed has enjoyed one of the longest running musical careers in the Maldives, and even with three decades of musical experience under his belt, Rasheed continues to showcase his many talents as a musician in various avenues.

Feature portrait of Ibrahim Rasheed. PHOTO: MILLZERO NISHAN (Provided to The Edition by Artist Representation)

And so the music lives on...

While these contemporary artists appear to have the gift of music ingrained in their essence, it is important to recognize the tremendous difficulty that lies in the task of having to live up to or carry on a 'legacy'. These heirs and heiresses have worked tirelessly in spite of immense hurdles to achieve even a modicum of success, and will doubtless be working even harder to expand their careers and make their own musical mark.

This writer, like all lovers and supports of Maldivian music, shall impatiently await their artistry, in anticipation of the countless achievements that are hopefully yet to crown the rest of their respective musical journeys.

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