Pakistan's Favorite Pastime Coming to a Location Near You

Abida Parveen (© Jack Vartoogian)

The latest prime-time hit on Pakistani television isn't a sentimental soap opera or a reality-TV show on the hunt for the nation's next singing sensation. It's Coke Studio.

Based on UK's "Live from Abbey Road," Coca Cola Pakistan's newest venture is an hour-long television show featuring musicians who blend traditional and modern music from across Pakistan.

Luckily for New Yorkers, musicians from the show are coming to this side of the Atlantic to Asia Society next week.

Organized by Pakistani Peace Builders and spearheaded by Ambassador Abdullah Haroon, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, the musical performances are part of the New York Sufi Music Festival -- which is promoting  peace, tolerance, and solidarity from the Pakistani community with New Yorkers and the world. 

Coke Studio's popularity can be attributed to a number of things. For starters, Coke Studio's producer Rohail Hyatt, former member of Pakistani groundbreaking rock band Vital Signs, has a knack for musical fusion. A clever tactic used to attract a younger audience is the mash-up of Ghazals, Qawwalis, and soft rock. The result is pure genius.

In the second season of the show, artists Zeb & Haniya became household names after their rendition of Omar Khayyam's Paimona, fused traditional string and percussion instruments, while singing in Farsi. Among other artists, season three features powerhouse Abida Parveen, Pakistan's equivalent of Aretha Franklin. The Telegraph describe her as a "singer with the knock-out effect, even if you can't understand her."

Expect these artists and more at next week's performances. Also, expect big crowds.