We’ve Had All-Girl Bands Since The 1920’s! Now Pakistan Has It’s First All-Female Music Group!

Helen Lewis & Her All Girl Jazz Syncopators

Helen Lewis & Her All Girl Jazz Syncopators

Like most professions in Pakistan, music is a career that is mostly male-dominated. That is one reason why Pakistan’s first all-girl music group has created a bit of sensation. Although they may need a bit of fine tuning, the excitement they have created just by being an all-female band was enough to cause quite a buzz. Zeb & Haniya’s music has been well-received by many music critics so far. Here’s more about their group from BBC News:

But the most startling fact about these girls, for Pakistanis and the world at large, is their origin.

Both Zeb and Haniya are ethnic Pashtuns, and their families hail from the town of Kohat in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province.

That region has, of late, become synonymous with the Taleban and al-Qaeda.

“We’ve never lived there, but we do keep going back for family functions and get-togethers,” Haniya explains.

How accurately the militants represent the cultural identity of the Pushtuns is one of the mostly hotly debated topics in the region.

Zeb and Haniya are a living and vivid example of how much more there is to the Pushtun sensibility than the images of gun-toting renegades.

But that is all by default – the girls say they are here to be recognised for the quality of their music, not their background.

So far they seem to have struck all the right chords as the praise keeps on coming from the media.

It all started five years ago when we were in college in the US and starting writing songs,” Zeb explains.

The girls were then undergraduate students at Smith and Wesleyan college.

“I started experimenting with different instruments and sounds,” Haniya recalls.

“Zeb had been taking singing classes for a while and we got together to record some songs.”

That might have been that, Haniya says, if not for the decision to upload the songs on to the internet.

“When we got back to Pakistan, we found out that some of the local FM radio stations had actually been playing them.”

Since 2001, Pakistan has seen a boom in local radio channels which broadcast both local and international talent.”(End of Excerpt) Read the rest here:(http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7786423.stm

While Zeb & Haniya were students here in the U.S., the American culture inspired them to start making music. In fact, the article states that “their music blends western and eastern influences seamlessly.” I hope that Zeb & Haniya can inspire more Pakistani women to increase their prescence in music & other fields. Just like I’m sure Helen Lewis and Her All-Girl Jazz Syncopators  were an inspiration to other American female musicians.They were the first all-female music band that emerged during the roaring 20’s. Here’s an excerpt from  Wikipedia with more on them & other all-girl bands:

“In the Jazz Age of the 1920s, “all-girl” bands such as “Helen Lewis and Her All-Girl Jazz Syncopators” were briefly popular. (In 1925, Lee DeForest filmed Lewis and her band in his short-lived Phonofilm process, in a film now in the Maurice Zouary collection at the Library of Congress.[4]) Blanche Calloway, sister of Cab Calloway, led a male band, Blanche Calloway and Her Joy Boys, from 1932 to 1939, and Ina Ray Hutton led an all-girl band, the Mellodears, from 1934 to 1939. Author and professor Sherrie Tucker published a book detailing the times and trials of All-Girl Swing bands of the 1940s, titled “Swing Shift”, in 2000. (Duke University Press)

Groups composed solely of women began to flourish with the advent of rock and roll. Among the earliest all-female rock bands to be signed to a record label were Goldie and the Gingerbreads, to Atlantic Records in 1964 and Fanny in 1969 when Mo Ostin signed them to Warner Bros. Records.”(End of Excerpt) Read the rest here:(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All-female_band


Filed under Historical Reasons

6 responses to “We’ve Had All-Girl Bands Since The 1920’s! Now Pakistan Has It’s First All-Female Music Group!

  1. I just wanted to say that, this is a great blog and to keep up the good work!

  2. The “Benjamin Sisters” was a Pakistani, all-girl group popular in the 80s… this clearly isn’t the first….

  3. Dom

    Great blog, not many all girl swing bands around these days.

  4. Zeb and Haniya are amazing both of them are the best female musicians of Pakistan and one of the best musicians of the world….keep rocking Zebunnisa Bangash and Haniya Aslam…. You can download their album from http://www.koolmuzone.com

  5. chrizzi

    great blog!
    could you just tell me, where i can see the film that you took the picture from? i am looking for this!!
    best from berlin!

  6. Jill

    My grandmother is in that picture! I have similar pictures of the band (which changed names frequently). Can you tell me how to access that film? I’ve tried searching on the Library of Congress website under Maurice Zouary collection, but so far no luck. Thanks.

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