Few would know her in Bangladesh except her fans and perhaps a section of the Sylheti crowd but here is a Bangladesh-UK singer who sings Lalon songs in London and is mighty well received as well. She is Shapla Salique. I have posted her songs on my FB timeline and those who have heard her clips have expressed admiration but in general she remains unknown.

But this fantastic singer has not only taken Lalon to London but by singing such songs for the last several decades has upheld the culture of her native land as few have. She deserves congratulations and our admiration.

Her background

Her name is Farzana Salique but she is better known as Shapla Salique. She sings, is a lyricist and plays the harmonium as if she was born with her fingers on the scales. She was born in Sylhet, Bangladesh.

Here is what Wikipedia says:

"Salique grew up in Tajpur, Osmani Nagar, Sylhet District, where she would often go to watch her father, uncle and grandparents perform. They were renowned folk singers of Sylhet. Her grandfather, Azfar Ali, was immersed into music and passed his interest to his family. Shapla's brother Uchchall plays the tabla.

Her father, Abdus Salique migrated to the UK in the 70s. A five year old Shapla joined her father with the rest of her family -mother Hasna and two brothers Uchchall and Shochall. Raised in London's East End, her father worked as a waiter, then opened a tailoring workshop before running a restaurant.

Already a singer, she enrolled at the University of Leeds to pursue a degree in music and concentrated on her musical career.


She began performing from the age of three. In 1985, she became the lead singer of the first British Bangladeshi musical group Dishari Shilpi Gosthi, founded by her father in 1979 which was based in Shadwell, London.

The group sang Sylheti folk and Nazrul songs Salique fronted Dishari on numerous albums and television appearances, as well at public concerts throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including performing in front of royalty at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of Save the Children.

In 1996, Salique's first Bengali song "Ziola '' was released in the UK, later remixed by Judge Jules for his album Dance Wars. It was followed by two solo albums; Siyono na Siyona in 1997, a traditional folk oriented album. In 2002, the Hindi pop album Lai Lai was produced and composed by Bappi Lahiri. She has also appeared on many television programmes.

True fusion

Shapla is the singer, songwriter and harmonium player for her band, the other members include Alok Verma (tabla and percussion), Dion Palumbo (acoustic guitar), Mak Murtic (saxophone), Suroj Sureshbabu (electric and acoustic guitar), Sam Bailey (double bass), and Jason Alder (saxophone).

In March 2013, Salique performed at the Rich Mix Cultural Foundation in London alongside her band as part of BanglaFest. That year she performed at Wilton's Music Hall and at TEDx Houses of Parliament and the British Curry Awards.

"She has been influenced by music from both East and West and she incorporates global mainstream music and poetic melodies and stories from her traditional heritage of Bangladesh. She is known for her unique soulful voice and powerful vocals. Her musical arrangement is a fusion of Bengali folk, combined with jazz, pop, funk and soul." (Wikipedia)

Lalon and Shapla

She has sung many Lalon songs in her own style but two songs stand out. One is "ভুলের মায়ায় ছেড়েছি" or "Moner manush" which is a favorite of many. The song is on Youtube and uses saxophone, harmonium and table all together making it a total fusion experience. The Western part of the fusion doesn't appear forced at all like some local versions and her own harmonium playing is terrific. It's very confidently sung with just the right dose of Sylheti accent making another fusion of her accent as well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTuff7-XPXQ

The other notable Lalon song of hers is the " যেখানে সাইঁ'র বারামখানা " song. It doesn't just celebrate Lalon music but dancing as a form of a visual representation of mysticism. British dancer Elsa Petit interpreting Lalon through her physical movements is awesome. It's a wonderful expressionistic interpretation of Lalon rarely done in so many forms at once and so well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwe8eJt7qfQ

The songs also show how deep and wide Lalon is, his breadth and depth. It seems Lalon can be sung in many ways and forms and can be even danced into being. There are many levels of Lalon from the mazar to Farida Parveen to Sumi of Lalon band and Shapla falls into another genre born in the West. All are fantastic and to each their own fans and followers.

And Shapla Salique deserves our thanks and admiration for taking an authentic brand of Bangladesh and making it so widely known in the Western world.

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