women’s day special
March 2023 marks a year of EQUAL Pakistan celebrating some of the most astounding women artists from the country. These iconic symbols of female musical prowess have lit up a digital billboard at Times Square, NYC, a fitting tribute to their stature and achievements. As part of the EQUAL celebrations that occur each month with the announcement of an Ambassador of the Month, the campaign also features a track from the artist on Spotify’s dedicated playlist.
EQUAL is a global platform from Spotify that highlights women artists making waves in their local musical landscapes. The programme has brought to the limelight a diverse set of female talents that have gone on to conquer unprecedented heights in a short time. This month, as EQUAL Pakistan celebrates its first anniversary, let’s look back at all the 12 female music ambassadors…
Arooj Aftab – March 2022
EQUAL Pakistan’s first Ambassador of the Month has become a symbol of pride for the nation over the past year. She has gone on to accumulate an impressive collection of ‘firsts’ for the nation. She is Pakistan’s first Grammy winner; the first local artist to perform at Coachella and the country’s first artist to receive a second consecutive Grammy nomination. Arooj’s journey has been no less than meteoric since she has been honoured as inaugural face for EQUAL on International Women’s Day 2022.
Mehak Ali – April 2022
Mehak Ali was the second EQUAL Pakistan Ambassador. She was honoured in the holy month of Ramazan with her kalam ‘Saleh Ala Nabi Yena’ featured on the platform’s playlist. Mehak Ali made her debut in 2017 from Bollywood with a track titled ‘Baab E Rehmat’. Mehak has also been nominated for the BBC Asian Music Award for her song ‘Baandi’, which was her first independent release.
Hadiqa Kiani – May 2022
Hadiqa Kiani is a name that needs no introduction and her contributions to the evolution of Pakistan’s musical landscape was honoured by EQUAL Pakistan as its third Ambassador for the month of May 2022. From the iconic ‘Boohey Barian’ that still rings fresh in the minds of listeners to ‘Yaad’, the track from her most recent album ‘VASL’, Hadiqa has cemented her position as one of the evergreen legends of the industry. Audiences have always adored her as an effervescent star and she continues to command similar love and respect till this day.
Zoha Zuberi – June 2022
Zoha Zuberi has become the fourth person to don the prestigious hat of EQUAL Pakistan’s Ambassador of the Month. Zoha is an independent singer and composer from Pakistan’s capital city who has been changing music dynamics not just in the country but internationally as well, for the last five years. Zoha has released 2 exclusive promos and 10+ singles over the past three years - gaining recognition in numerous international markets and playlists. The dynamic indie musician is a voice of her own amongst the women that are making a mark for themselves in the entertainment scene through their unique compositions.
Natasha Baig – July 2022
In its fifth month, EQUAL Pakistan announced the Sufi rock sensation Natasha Baig as its Ambassador for July 2022. Making her debut in 2015, Natasha recently released her sophomore album titled ‘Khirad’ with 9 tracks which is a tribute to the legendary poet Allama Iqbal. She also collaborated with Mai Dhai for a music video in the Marwari language and sung a beautiful rendition of Allama Iqbal’s ‘Shikwa Jawab e Shikwa’ along with Abu Mohammad and Farid Ayaz Qawwal.
Nazia Hassan – August 2022
The ‘Queen of South Asian Pop’, Nazia Hassan became the first EQUAL Ambassador to receive this honour on the 22nd anniversary of her departure from the mortal world. It was a fitting tribute to an icon who left a void in the musical space that is yet to be filled. Nazia was announced not just as the face for EQUAL’s local chapter but also for the global programme simultaneously, depicting her prowess and stature as the legend that she was.
Making her debut with the song ‘Aap Jaisa Koi’ in 1980, she along with her brother Zoheb Hassan have sold more than 65 million records worldwide. Having won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer at the age of 15 in 1981, she remains the first Pakistani and the youngest recipient of the accolade till date.
Momina Mustehsan – September 2022
Having caught Pakistan’s attention through her mesmerising vocals in the beautiful rendition of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s ‘Afreen Afreen’ that she sang with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Momina was the next to represent the country on a digital billboard in Times Square as EQUAL Pakistan’s Ambassador for September 2022.
Her releases, the singles ‘Aaya Na Tu’ (2018) and ‘Baari’ (2019), have since then topped local charts. Her track ‘Uchiyaan Dewaraan’ (Baari 2) topped the Official Asian Top 40 Charts in November 2020 earning her a place on BBC’s ‘100 Most Influential Women’ and Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ Asia lists signaling the rise of another prolific star from Pakistan.
Eva B – October 2022
Carrying the honour of being one of the first women rappers in the country, Eva B, became the face of EQUAL Pakistan for the month of October. Her track ‘Mukhtasir Baatein’ was featured on Spotify as part of the celebrations. Hailing from Baluchistan and having earned the title ‘Veiled Rapper’, Eva B has taken the local industry by storm dropping hit after hit earning her a seat amongst the likes of Momina Mustehsan, Hadiqa Kiani and Nazia Hassan to name a few, as the EQUAL Ambassador.
Natasha Noorani – November 2022
A woman adorning many hats but most recently creating waves in the ocean of Pakistani music, Natasha Noorani was announced as the EQUAL Pakistan Ambassador for November 2022. Having collaborated with the likes of Strings, Abdullah Siddiqui, Talal Qureshi and Jamal Rehman, Natasha has garnered a significant following for herself over the years.
Shae Gill – December 2022
The craze for ‘Pasoori’ has been unflinching since its release and the popularity of the track catapulted Shae Gill to EQUAL Pakistan’s Ambassador for the Month of December. With the year coming to a close, there wasn’t a more fitting artist to celebrate the coming New Year on a high.
Anushae Babar Gill, who became known popularly to us as Shae Gill after her duet ‘Pasoori’ with Ali Sethi took the world by storm, hails from Lahore and is amongst the freshest sensations that the local industry has produced. Starting off as a cover-artist on Instagram in 2019, ‘Pasoori’ was Gill’s debut track and what a sensational entrance it has been.
Now, with her latest track, ‘Sukoon’, the young artist in her peaceful and melancholic voice is reminding listeners of the ‘Queen of South Asian Pop’ Nazia Hasan. Shae Gill was also the most streamed Pakistani female artist this year as revealed by Spotify Wrapped 2022, their magnanimous year-end celebration.
Maria Unera – January 2023
Making waves with her stunning vocals and sensational compositions, Maria Fatima Unera Qureshi, opened 2023 as the first EQUAL Pakistan Ambassador for the year.
Carrying a unique mix of musical genes from a Pakistani father and Filipina mother, Maria Unera made her debut with Pakistan’s first and only all-girls musical group performing an astounding cover for John Newman’s ‘Love Me Again’.
Ever since, Maira’s vocal prowess continues to turn heads allowing her to make a lasting mark in the country’s musical landscape. Her track ‘Strong’, a stirring ode to her mother who passed away after battling cancer, is a showcase of her diverse vocal range and stunning command over the art of strewing lyrics together like pearls in a bead.
Natasha Humera Ejaz – February 2023
Natasha’s journey as an artist began with PTV when she was only seven years old. However, her debut single ‘Today Is a Place’ came out in 2010, propelling her into the mainstream music industry. Since then, she has had a rousing journey not only producing some incredible tracks to woe her audiences but also lending her vocals to ‘Mehru’ in the much anticipated animated film ‘Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor’.
Many of Natasha’s tracks are crowd favourites while several of them have been nominated for coveted local accolades. Songs which include the likes of ‘Till the End of Time’ and ‘Khwab’ have both been recognised for their vocal prowess. Moreover, her track, ‘God in Me’, which narrates her own story is another sensational melody that moves listeners.