Music

Fans mourn the loss of a beloved Pakistani pop singer-turned-preacher

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Growing up, musician Rutaba Yaqub loved listening to Junaid Jamshed.

Jamshed rose to fame in the 1980s and '90s — as the leader of a pop-rock band called Vital Signs. He was popular not just during Yaqub's generation, but also her mother's.

"My mother was in college when she started listening [to his music]," says Yaqub. "I think our kids and their kids, they're going to listen to Vital Signs. It's so fresh, it's as if it happened yesterday."

But Jamshed's voice will no longer be. He died Wednesday after the commercial airliner he was on crashed in the mountains north of Islamabad. He was among 47 people who died in the accident.

"I still can't believe it," says Yaqub, for whom Jamshed was an inspiration. "He was the guy who made me believe that music can live in Pakistan and that there's still hope for the industry in Pakistan," she explains.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Jamshed began to slowly move away from pop music. He became a follower of the Tablighi Jamaat, a highly conservative movement.

Yaqub says she felt very sad when she found out that Jamshed would no longer be singing, but she respected his decision.

Jamshed didn't stop his artistic work completely, though. He wrote religious poems.

Since she learned about the crash, Yaqub says she has been listening to her favorite songs by Jamshed.

One in particular stands out. It goes, "Even if I die, don't cry, and remember me by my songs."

Read our previous reporting on Rutaba Yaqub.

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