Salman Ahmad is a Pakistani musician and former actor, who used to be a member of Vital Signs but left after their debut album due to creative differences. He went on to form Junoon, South Asia’s biggest and longest-lasting rock band. While still enjoying the success of Junoon, he was involved in two documentaries with the BBC and is also a UN Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/AIDS. Ahmad is working towards spreading awareness about HIV in South Asia, and helping to bring peace between Pakistan and India. Ahmad is currently teaching at Queens College, City University of New York. Although Junoon’s two other core members – Ali Azmat and Brain O’Connell – left the band in 2005, Salman Ahmad continues to perform as a solo artist under the “Junoon” label and has moved to New York after his solo career failed to take off in Pakistan. Salman Ahmad has also released one album as a solo artist, “Infiniti” in 2005.
Ahmad started his music career with Vital Signs, but left after their debut album due to creative differences. In 1990, Ahmad formed Junoon, South Asia’s biggest and longest-lasting rock band, along with Ali Azmat. After Junoon’s international acclaim and success, Ahmad reached new heights, which included being an ambassador for peace with numerous international awards under his belt.
Ahmed was the first solo album, Infiniti, in mid-2005, but contrary to rumors, he did not resolve the madness. He was the first video for Infiniti newspaper “Vida”, which aims to promote awareness of HIV, and appeared the famous Pakistani actress Nadia Jamil plays the role of her husband died of AIDS, and beautiful character goes to educate people on the streets on the prevention of this disease.
He also played an important role in raising funds and awareness for the devastating earthquake that hit Pakistan in October, in October 2005. In September 2006, Ahmed was invited personally by former U.S. President Bill Clinton to speak at the initiative of the Clinton Global Panel in New York on September 21, which was attended by many distinguished guests such as Bill Gates, Pervez Musharraf, Queen Rania Al-Abdullah, and others.
Ahmed also appeared on Bill Maher’s politically correct, PBS documentary rock stars, religious leaders, and the film documentary, told the BBC he was also my country. She also appeared on CNN and NPR to speak on behalf of the Pakistanis and Muslims.
In an interview with ARY One World in 2007, Ahmed said he will be working with Madonna and Bono. He has been actively touring, performing and speaking at prestigious U.S. institutions such as Columbia University, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Purdue, Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Austin, Utah.
It has also been teaching a class on music titled “Islamic Music and Culture in South Asia”, the members of the faculty at Queen’s College for guests. This year, he began his second semester as a guest faculty.Ahmad also worked with Annie Lennox, Sarah McLachlan and Dave Stewart to record a song about the “Greenpeace”, who produced and mixed by producer John Alec mad.
Ahmad in the Cherry Blossom Festival in April 6, 2008 in Washington, DC. He performed well in Toronto on November 4, 2008 at Roy Thomson Hall as part of the sold-out “concert mystical journey.” With stops in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Montreal, and of 60 musicians and dancers from around the world Muslim, witnessed the ceremony of the golden jubilee of the initiative of His Highness Prince Aga Khan, spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims.
On December 10, 2007 performance by Ahmad and tabla Indian maestro Chatterjee Samir together in a ceremony the Nobel Prize for Peace in the town hall of the city of Oslo in honor of former U.S. President Al Gore, U.S. Vice President, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was the winners of the Nobel Peace prestigious for the year 2007.
On March 1, 2008, Ahmad performed with Yale Strom (a world leading Klezmer artist) at Temple Beth Sholom in Roslyn Heights as part of another “Common Chords II” concert celebrating Muslim and Jewish Music. Together with Strom, Ahmad leads the multi-faith ensemble Common Chords, whose members include Chatterjee, dhol player Sunny Jain, bassist Mark Dresser, vocalist Elizabeth Schwartz and others He also performed with Oscar and multi Grammy award winner Melissa Etheridge, with whom he recorded a duet called “Ring the Bells”. Etheridge hoped to present this track to President-elect Barack Obama. They also performed at Etheridge’s album release concerts in New Jersey and Atlantic City in November 2008.
About these performances, Ahmad said; “I dedicate these performances to the Pakistan lawyers movement for the restoration of the Supreme Court judges and independence of the judiciary as well as Pakistan’s civil society, media, students and rights activists who have heroically protested against the Musharraf government’s illegal action of imposing emergency in Pakistan.”
Ahmad and his band Junoon suffered political censorship in Pakistan during the rule of Benazir Bhutto in 1990s, partly due to a song denouncing political corruption. In 1998 during the rule of Nawaz Sharif, Junoon was again banned in Pakistan, because they protested against the nuclear power tests in India as well as their own country by saying, “Why escalate the arms race when people still need water? Why see our neighbors as enemies when we are so close to each other?”
Ahmed played at the Roskilde Festival in 2000 under the banner of Freemuse, just a couple of years after the ban. As a musician who faced censorship in his home country, Ahmed says that “there is no conflict between my faith and my music, you can be a Muslim and play electric guitar”.
In 2006, During a Freemuse conference in Beirut he was part of one of the rare occasions where music and religion was taken seriously and where discussions on music and Islam focused on theology and not just social and cultural patterns. About this he said, “I’ve taken part in Freemuse dialogue meetings and press meetings. They have always been great meetings places for musicians, researchers and journalists and I’ve always felt that understanding the motivations behind and the mechanisms of censorship have been in focus — not just condemning censorship. Having said that, we, the artists, should always be ready to defend our colleagues when the rights to freedom of expression are attacked, and thus we need an organisation such as Freemuse to help us do this.”
Nobel Peace Prize concert in Norway
Televised in around 100 countries, Ahmad and his band Junoon performed with artists from all over the world at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, on 11 December 2007. He also played at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony on 9 December 2007, where he was joined by tabla virtuoso Pandit Samir Chatterjee.
Salman Ahmad published an autobiographical work titled “Rock & Roll Jihad: A Muslim Rock Star’s Revolution” in January 2010. The book was published by Simon & Schuster. Melissa Etheridge wrote in the introduction ” “The story you are about to read is the story of a light-bringer….Salman Ahmad inspires me to reach always for the greatest heights and never to fear….Know that his story is a part of our history.”
Water. Restless, moody, flowing. Ustad Ashiq Ali Mir says “Salman jo kehta hai woh kar ke dikhata hai.” While growing up, this ex-cricketer, ex-doc was all over London, Virginia, Kuwait, NY. Good he gave up medicine. Imagine him doing to patients what he does to the guitar!
A song you’d like everyone to know: “Imagine”. It speaks a universal message: Imagine there’s no country… You may say I’m a dreamer… I think we’re all dreamers, deep down. I am. I dream of one world, without countries, boundaries, passports, religions.
A song that symbolises you: “Mein Kaun Hoon.” Hamara hi hai. In order to find out who you are, you have to search your own conscience, right?
About cricket: I played in an exhibition match against the South African team when they were touring Pakistan scored 42 not out. Jonty Rhodes, who was fielding at point, goes “Hey man, drop the guitar, you gotta pick up the bat.” If there was another junoon in my life, besides music, it was cricket.
On evolution as a musician/ songwriter: As an artiste, you feel like a child every time you pick up your instrument or write a song though I’ve written 40 to 50. For me, soulfulness is a top priority and virtuosity doesn’t interest me that much. You can get the most happening sound out of playing very simply, so I try to push myself in directions where I don’t worry about how technically proficient I am but how I am able to express myself on the guitar.