“Anticipating has a visceral emotionality and a deep musicality expertly ushering listeners into a place of contemplation and consideration. The use of both English and Urdu gives this song a specific gravity - forcing listeners of either. nativity to hear the story told beyond their bubble.” - John Wright
— Radio Airplay
Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, Shumaila Hemani, an Alberta, Canada-based Sufi singer-songwriter, brings diverse listeners new musical interpretations to the traditional repertoire learned from master musicians in Pakistan. Hemani, Ph. D. in Music from the University of Alberta (2019), is an Ethnomusicologist with expertise in sounds of religion.
She has performed her music at the Banff Arts Centre, University of Alberta’s International Week festivals, Pakistan-American Cultural Centre. Since her graduation, she has given memorable performances and showcases at Canada’s Music Incubator (CMI) (2019), Femme Wave Festival (2019), and the World Odyssey’s Spring 2020 voyage with Semester at Sea.
Edmonton Journal (2016) recognized Hemani’s music for “enriching” the city’s cultural life, and Calgary Herald described it as “mesmerizing,” and “emotionally nerve-striking,” carrying “vocal virtuosity,” and “expressing radically different inner existential visions” (2015). Her presentation on Islamic soundscapes on World Odyssey (2020) followed by a Sufi dhikr received a standing ovation.
Hemani is also an acousmatic composer and her compositions: Forgotten Ways of Thinking have been featured at the R.L. Stevenson Concert at the Society for Ethnomusicology (2012) and Migraines at SALT New Music Festival in Victoria, BC (2017) alongside University of Alberta’s Graduate Composer’s Concert (2010, 2017) alongside a sound installation (2010). Commissioned by New Music Edmonton, her upcoming composition Transitionsconverses soundscapes from her teaching and travels on World Odyssey-Semester at Sea, Spring 2020 with Sufi singing from Sindh. Society for Ethnomusicology (2020) premieres two of her compositions: Sarang: Perils of Heavy Rainfall and Supplication with a talk.
Her original lyrics and song compositions: Anticipating and Living with Purpose, selected for Mysterious Barricades’ 2020 Cross-Canada Concert for Suicide Awareness, Prevention, and Hope, have been described as bearing “a visceral emotionality and a deep musicality expertly ushering listeners into a place of contemplation and consideration. The use of both English and Urdu gives this song a specific gravity - forcing listeners of either. nativity to hear the story told beyond their bubble.” (John Wright, Radio Airplay)
“What listening offers us is the most visceral, immediate, and intimate doorway into realizing and practicing our humanity during any global crisis,” says Hemani
Her upcoming album Mannat (a prayer, a wish) supported by Edmonton Arts Council’s Cultural Diversity Award based on sung poetry by Sufi mystic Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai in Sindh will be out in January, 2021.