Making Music in Pakistan
With every TV news channel in Pakistan routinely showing scenes of bombing and dead bodies, and the US State Department was warning American travelers to avoid the country, many Pakistani’s were pleading with friends and family in the US not to visit Pakistan but Heather Schmid refuses to stay away, even though she’s been advised that her life will be in danger.
Heather’s love for Pakistan begin when she married Pakistan-born American doctor and successful entrepreneur Dr Syed Rafay Mehdi. Heather traveled to Pakistan for the first time in 2000 for her wedding and fell in love with the country. Heather says, “The way that my new relatives in Pakistan embraced me so openly and wholeheartedly made me want to return that love immediately. I was so impressed with the people and the beauty of the country that it felt like a natural second home for me.”
Who is Heather Schmid?
American pop celebrity, International Recording Artist, Global Music Ambassador and Grammy Academy Member, Schmid is an opera singer turned pop dancer, singer and song writer. She has performed in arenas that seat 25 thousand, and has a television show with 250 million viewers in China. With 1.2 billion media impressions, Schmid is the spokesperson for several multinational corporations and
high end clothing, makeup and jewelry brands. Schmid is described as a breath of fresh air in the music industry where she is a pioneer role model for artists on how to stay independent and at the same time lead a full filling life. Combining touring with dedication to family, Schmid is simultaneously a full-time wife and mother, devoted to her children and actively involved in all aspects of her home life.
Heather’s first brush with terrorism came when she traveled to Pakistan in 2005 to raise funds and do charity shows for earth quake victims, a tumultuous time for the country when tensions were rising between east and west. This trip resulted in harassment and the hacking of her website, as well as a life-threatening encounter with a terrorist. Schmid’s consistent response to these threats has been, “I am not going to hide, I am not scared; I believe my voice and my music can help bring goodness to the people of Pakistan.” In a recent interview on the Jeff Probst show that was recorded at CBS studios, Schmid talked about her harrowing encounter with the would-be terrorist assassin. Her simple bravery and unconditional love for Pakistan transformed this man into a peace-loving person who, in his words, said of Schmid, “I never met a simple American citizen who is so generous to Pakistan.” Schmid calls her passion for the country “building bridges between east and west.”
Heather’s most recent trip to Pakistan was earlier this year. While many Pakistanis in the US feel that American media has led Americans to equate Pakistan with terrorism, to the point where some have started alienating themselves from Pakistan and have even felt so embarrassed that they pretend to be Indians or Bangladeshi, Schmid has
been vocal about her family ties to the country and her love of the people. Risking her life, her reputation and her career, she arrived in February as a Goodwill Ambassador who sees beauty in Pakistan’s culture, music, food and clothing. Schmid knows that when Americans hear an American pop celebrity leaving glamorous world of Hollywood to help the people of Pakistan and to talk about the positive and beautiful side of Pakistan, it goes a long way toward reversing the media stereotypes that propagates the unnecessary and unfortunate rift between the two countries.
According to Schmid, “Pakistan is a beautiful country with hospitable people. It has four states, each with its own language and culture. But no matter where you go, you find the hospitality and the generosity is heartwarming. Pakistan has it issues and challenges like any developing country. But in the last few years, working with the US as a partner, they are moving towards a democratic and vibrant society. The road is tough but Pakistan and its people have tremendous potential. The food, the people, the hospitality, the culture is what brings me back over and over again. It is a nation in transition. I couldn’t imagine hesitating to extend my hands to provide help to so many who are aching for it. If people in the US only knew the real Pakistan, as I do, our countries could have such a rich exchange of culture and knowledge.”
After Heather returned from her trip, she said on national American TV, “I just went to Pakistan and Pakistan is a beautiful country with beautiful fun-loving people.”
So far, Heather has pursued her goal to bridge the gulf between the two countries as a solo effort using her own resources. Recently, she’s been pleased to see that it is finally beginning to come to fruition, as well as attracting some major support from other like-minded individuals. The entertainment corporation, Goddess Inc, owned by Schmid and her husband Mehdi, is set to launch several mega projects in Pakistan along with Anwar Maqsood. Both projects are in active negotiation with a major Pakistani network, though due to contractual obligations, Schmid could not disclose which parties are involved.
One of the projects involves a planned television show with 16 episodes that will highlight Schmid’s joint effort with a major American music institution. Schmid and Jonathan Finn, of the Berklee School of Music, are working closely on a song that will unite and energize Pakistan while promoting nationalism along with building bridges between Pakistan and US. They also plan to merge Hollywood know-how with talented Pakistani singers, writers, and producers to produce songs, TV shows and films that will ignite the birth of an entertainment industry that is so far nonexistent. Schmid and Mehdi plan to promote currently undiscovered singers, songwriters, actors, and dancers through these projects, allowing a cultural exchange that will benefit the world. Additionally, they are currently negotiating with two cable networks in the US as part of a plan to repackage and produce content filmed in Pakistan and promote it to American media.
Recently Heather Schmid posted on her Facebook and her website “five things you don’t know about Pakistanis”. Heather Schmid’s grass root fan clubs strength and for her benevolent love and respect for Pakistani people is evident by responses to her this
recent comments about Pakistanis. Over One point 3 million unique hits to her website, over thirty thousand likes on Facebook, thousands of emails thanking her for her bravery and her unconditional love for Pakistani people her own Pakistani family and for Dr Syed Rafay Mehdi who she feels is a gift of Pakistan and through whine she came to know and love Pakistan.
One quote on her website from her fans goes like this “Thank you so much. Every morning I read your blog as it has give me HOPE. Thank You, Baji. Our media and our government should take a note of your brave efforts. I am your fan for life. Love your songs your voice and you are incredibly beautiful. And I say that respectfully. I am hoping our media and our government will soon admire as much we admire you. God Bless your soul. And again thank you for giving us hope and a positive image. I say that with happy tears in my eyes”
Schmid wants to show Americans the softer side of Pakistan. According to Dr. Mehdi, “Softening the tarnished image of Pakistan is our primary goal. This will show the investors that Pakistanis are as peace-loving and democratic as Americans; we’re making a personal investment to improve the Pakistan economy for the mutual good of both countries.” Why now?. Mehdi says, “I have fulfilled all my personal goals and dreams. It’s time for me to give back to the country where I spent my formative years growing up in Karachi.” His wife is in full agreement. “Pakistan gave me Rafay and my family. I couldn’t imagine a more wonderful gift. Of course, I want to do everything I can to reciprocate.”