Farida Khanum was born in Calcutta in 1935.
Her sister is Mukhtar Begum. She started learning Khayal from her sister Mukhtar Begum at age seven and later learnt classical music from Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan.
She still remembers the clip-clop of the tonga in which her sister Mukhtar Begum would take her, a seven-year-old Farida, to Khan’s place for riyaaz. An exponent of the Patiala gharana, she recalls, “All that I know today is because of my training in Amritsar. I learnt many Hindustani ragas in the style of the Patiala gharana, which is known for its graceful execution of thumris and khayals.
She is a Pakistani Ghazal singer from Punjab. The Times of India has called her "Malika-e-Ghazal" (Queen of Ghazal). In 2005, she was awarded the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, Pakistan's highest civilian honour by President Pervez Musharraf. She migrated to Pakistan after partition of India in 1947.
I could have been a classical singer if I had not migrated.” “I used to get 50 (Pakistani) rupees per show and that was quite a lot those days,” laughs Khanum. “In Pakistan, the classical singers were so good that I would not have been able to match those extremely talented ustads. I had always been interested in poetry and that is when I thought I should shift to a semi-classical genre, rather than struggle in a difficult field,” she says with disarming modesty.
"A aj jaane ki zid na karo, yu hi pehlu mein baithe raho". When Farida Khanum sang this Fayazz Hashmi nazm in Pakistan in the early 1970s, ghazal lovers of India cocked their ears to their tape recorders as though it was a coded command from the legend herself, and played and replayed the tape until it whirred in agony. People in India and Pakistan enjoyed the song so much that the demand for the cassette soared on both sides of the border. “That ghazal is simple poetry set to the simplest of tunes and it is that effortlessness that touches hearts,” says Khanum, over a telephone conversation from Lahore.
Khanum had her first public performance in 1950 and then joined Radio Pakistan where she courted fame and fortune. http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/song-sung-true/614141/