Cultural Diversity Award-winning Shumaila Hemani, Ph.D., Releases Debut Album

Crossing gender boundaries while singing Pakistani songs of Muslim heritage which are typically performed by men, Shumaila Hemani’s debut album, Mannat (a prayer, a wish), is an awakening about climate emergency and the need for action. “It’s an appeal to the world to come together to support 33 million climate refugees as a result of heavy flooding in Pakistan that drowned a third of the country in August 2022,” she says. 

Based on Sufi poetry from South Asia and sound recordings of heavy rainfall, floods, and other environmental sounds recorded in Pakistan, “Mannat is an immersive experience of deep listening to soundscapes of climate change, the havoc it is bringing on cultures and tradition, and prayers rooted in Hindustani art music and singing from the Sufi shrines of Pakistan,” she says.  

It features, “Perils of Heavy Rainfall,” an acousmatic composition which won the Second Prize, Listening During COVID contest (2020) and was recently published in the Goose, the Journal of Environment, Arts, Culture in Canada. Watch and listen on YouTube here:

 With Hemani’s mesmerizing voice and harmonium, a South Asian reed instrument, Mehdi Rezania on santur, an Iranian zither, Ojas Joshi on tabla, South Asian percussion, alongside sound design based on field-recordings and original composition, Hemani’s performance features compelling storytelling in English with awe-inspiring music in Sindhi intended to spread the message of love, peace, and inter-connectedness within South Asian Sufi poetry to global audiences.

Mannat is a fulfillment of a calling that interlocked my heart. Sufi poetry empowered me to speak up for equity and justice without fear. This album is the

culmination of over a decade of research and performance learning to bring Sufi sounds to Canadians and the world,” says Hemani. “Sufi poetry brings a message of heart-centring love, inter-connectedness, and deep healing from wounds and traumas and represents the power of love to create a more just world.” 

Listen on Spotify here:

 Hemani is an interdisciplinary artist and academic residing in Alberta, Canada. She holds a Ph.D. in Music and M.A. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Alberta and served as a Music Faculty for Semester at Sea (Spring 2020; academic partner: Colorado State University) and the Faculty of Extension (University of Alberta). Her artistic practice involves sculpting with sounds of the environment and Islamic mystic poetry from South Asia for social empowerment and change. Hemani has joined Mount Royal University’s Trico Changemakers’ Studio in 2022 to create community-engaged sound art focusing on climate change in Alberta.