The Journey of Adnan Sami from Struggle to Symphony

Adnan Sami

The Success Story of Adnan Sami From Struggle to Stardom

Adnan Sami Khan is known as Adnan Sami. He is an Indian singer, musician, music composer, actor and pianist. He performs Indian and Western music, including in Hindi, Urdu, English, Telugu, Tamil and Kannada language.

He has been awarded with Padma Shri (India’s fourth highest civilian award) for his remarkable contribution in music. His most notable instrument is the piano. He is credited as “the first musician to have played the santoor and Indian classical music on the piano”.

As of US-based Keyboard magazine he is the fastest keyboard player in the world. The magazine called him the keyboard discovery of the nineties.

He was raised and educated in the United Kingdom and spent his life in Canada. The Times of India has called him the “Sultan of Music”. He became an Indian citizen in 2016. On 26th January 2020, he was awarded the Padma Shri on 26 January 2020.

Early life and education of Adnan Sami

Adnan Sami was born on 15th August 1971, in London, England. He was raised and educated in the United Kingdom. His father, Arshad Sami Khan, was a Pakistani Pashtun with roots in Afghanistan & his mother Naureen Khan was an Indian from Jammu.

Adnan Sami’s father served as a Pakistan Air Force pilot, before becoming a senior bureaucrat and serving as Pakistan’s ambassador to 14 countries.

Adnan Sami attended Rugby School in Rugby, West Midlands, UK. Later, Adnan followed his bachelor’s degree with a law degree (LLB) from King’s College London. He went on to qualify as a barrister from Lincoln’s Inn, England.

Since the age of 5 years, he played the piano. He composed his first piece of music when he was nine years old. He began taking lessons in Indian classical music from the santoor maestro Pandit Shivkumar Sharma when visiting India during his school vacations.

When Indian singer Asha Bhosle saw him at an R. D. Burman concert in London and encouraged him to take up music as a career. He was only 10 years old at that time. He is an accomplished concert pianist, music composer and singer with a command of Indian and Western classical/semi-classical music, jazz, rock and pop music.

Ranveer Allahbadia

Us-based keyboard magazine described him as the keyboard discovery of the nineties. At the age of sixteen, Sami was approached to write a song for famine-hit Ethiopia, for that song he won a special award from UNICEF.

During his 32 years career, he won many international awards like the Nigar Award, Bolan Acadamy Award & Graduate Award. He is the youngest recipient of the Naushad Music Award for Excellence in Music. Previously that award was received by Lata Mangeshkar and Music Maestro Khayam.

Adnan Sami Personal life

In 1993, Adnan Sami first married to actress Zeba Bakhtiar, with whom he had a son named Azaan Sami Khan. They divorced after three years. Since 13th March 2001, Sami began living in India on a visitor’s visa which was extended from time to time.

In 2001, Adnan Sami married Dubai-based Arab Sabah Galadari. This was Sami as well as Sabha’s second marriage. she had a son from her previous marriage. This relationship also ended in divorce, a year-and-a-half later.

In June 2006, when he weighed 230 kilograms; he claimed his doctor had given him just six months to live. By diet and exercise, he lost 167 kilograms in 16 months.

In 2008, his wife Sabah returned to Mumbai, remarried him. They began living together, but the marriage only lasted one year, after which Sabah filed for divorce again.

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In 2009, his father died of pancreatic cancer. On 29 January 2010 Sami married Roya Sami Khan, the daughter of a retired diplomat and army general. He first met. The couple had a daughter named Medina Sami Khan.

On 26 May 2015, he submitted a request for Indian citizenship to the Ministry of Home Affairs, when his Pakistani passport expired (he also held Canadian citizenship at the time). As he had lived an adequate number of years in India that made him eligible for Indian citizenship hence he naturalised as an Indian citizen.

In December 2015, the Indian Home Ministry approved his request for legal status as a citizen of India, effective as of 1st January 2016.


In 1986, his first single, “Run for His Life”, was released. It was in English and recorded for UNICEF. It went to No. 1 in the music charts in the Middle East.  This was followed by three more No. 1s: “Talk to Me”, “Hot Summer Day” and “You’re My Best Kept Secret”.

In 1989, his first formal album, The One & Only was a classical album on the piano. It was accompanied by tabla maestro Zakir Hussain. In 1991, he released his first vocal solo album Raag Time.

In 1994, he composed music for a Pakistani movie Sargam.  Aasha Bhosle collaborated with him in 2000 on a collection of love songs named Kabhi & Nazar Milao in India. Sami also composed music for that.

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The album became an instant success and topped the Indipop charts for most of 2001 and 2002. As of Business Week magazine, the album sold 4 million copies in India alone.

Soon he became popular, which led Hindi filmmaker Boney Kapoor to invite him to provide music for his film. This was the beginning for Adnan Sami to compose and sing for Hindi films. Due to the popularity of his music videos and live performances, he started getting acting offers at the same time.

Pepsi Foods made him its brand ambassador in India in 2002. He is the only artist in all of Asia and Europe to have endorsed Pepsi Cola and Coca-Cola together.

Alka Yagnik

As per an article in The Times of India, Adnan Sami is the “most successful face in non-film music in India”. In 2002, his second studio album, Tera Chehra, was released to critical acclaim. The album features Bollywood stars Rani Mukerji in the title track and Amitabh Bachchan in the track “Kabhi Nahi”, who also sang the duet with Sami.

His Tera Chehra broke sales records by becoming India’s best-selling album of 2002 (including film soundtracks), continuing its No. 1 position in 2003, and by becoming the best-selling Indian album of all time (including film soundtracks) in the U.S. and Canada. In 2002, Saathiya brought him the opportunity to work with A. R. Rahman in the form of “Aye Udi Udi”.

Kabhi To Nazar Milao & Tera Chehra are his most successful albums. Since 2003, he sung for a few Tamil movies like Boys, Aaytha Ezhuthu composed by A. R. Rahman.

Sonu Nigam

Adnan Sami also sang for the Tamil and Telugu versions besides the Hindi version of songs from the movie Yuva in 2004. He sang the song “Chanchadi Adi Urang Nee” in the Malayalam movie Makalkku. He also sung for a Kannada film.

In 2005,Adnan Sami suffered from lymphoedema and developed an abscess in the knee. That interrupted his career.

In 2006, Adnan Sami took a sabbatical and reportedly lost 130 kg. In April 2007, he came back with the album Kisi Din. He sang the soundtrack “Dil Kya Kare” from the Hindi film Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute to Love and “Noor-e-Khuda” from My Name Is Khan.

He has composed music for many Hindi movies like, Lucky: No Time for Love, Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke, Dhamaal, 1920, Chance Pe Dance, Mumbai Salsa, Khubsoorat, Sadiyaan, Shaurya etc.
As a classical concert pianist, Sami has given solo performances before royalty such as the King of Sweden and King Hussein of Jordan.

Adnan Sami wrote a song for India during the 2003 Cricket World Cup. In that Sami performed with the Indian cricket team with guest appearances from Indian film stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Fardeen Khan and Kareena Kapoor.

Neha Kakkar

His work has associated him with prominent people from the Indian film and music industry.
Sami was chosen to perform for BBC World Service’s celebration of 70 years on behalf of India on 15th December 2002.

In 2003, Adnan Sami became the only musical artist to have sold out Wembley Stadium London for two nights in a row. It was a record as per Limca Book of World Records. It was repeated again in 2005, 2008 & 2012.

He received Lifetime Achievement Award from PM of Pakistan in 2010. He was Awarded with Glory of India Award in 2011 by the International Friendship Society.

On the 350th anniversary of the completion of the Taj Mahal, Sami gave a solo concert performance in front of the Taj Mahal on the final night of the celebrations. After this performance, the Indian media dubbed him as the “Sultan of Music”.

In 2005, he hosted the Indian version of the American music game show Don’t Forget the Lyrics! called Bol Baby Bol on the Star TV network. In 2011, Adnan appeared as a judge on the singing reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L’il Champs.

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