Singer Annie Khalid is full of surprises. The first one is that, despite describing herself as Pakistan’s Pop Princess, she was actually raised in Romford.
Khalid moved back to Pakistan at 15, finished her education and at 18 released her debut single, Mahiya, which became an overnight hit. ‘All of a sudden, I was getting mobbed and people were taking my picture,’ she laughs.
The bright lights of the London borough of Havering failed to lure her back and Khalid remained in Pakistan, where she released two albums, appeared in a Pepsi advert and broke records for concert attendance in Punjab, where 50,000 fans turned up. ‘There were people who can’t speak English singing along to the English parts of my songs,’ she says proudly.
The 26-year-old returned to Britain this year, following the end of a brief marriage, to launch her new single, Boom Boom Danze, a pop-dancehall offering featuring Beenie Man, which she hopes will bring her to mainstream attention. However, appealing to both Western and Pakistani audiences hasn’t been easy.
Khalid says she rejected outfits for the video on the grounds they may upset Muslim viewers but even the tame final product has still elicited some outrage. ‘I wear a top that shows my belly in a couple of scenes,’ she says, ‘Some people were saying: “This video is kind of vulgar – are you even Muslim?”’
‘People were upset because Pakistanis have considered me the girl next door and all of a sudden Annie, who is always covered, is singing a different type of music and wearing different clothes. It was a shock to them.’
Presumably it would have been a bigger shock if she’d gone full-on Miley Cyrus and twerked herself senseless. Would that type of performance end her career in Pakistan? see more