It was a fine spring day, April 12, 1948, and the entire student body of the Islamia College, Peshawar was eagerly gathered,
hanging on to every word of the 15-minute speech of Quaid-e-Azam's they were never to forget.
But who amongst those gathered, some 53 years ago, would have imagined that this same speech would travel across the seas in
time and space, to fall upon the ears of a twenty-first century Englishman, a citizen of that same land from whose dominion the
new Pakistan had so recently wrenched itself free?
"The success of our achievements will depend upon our unity, discipline and faith, not only in ourselves but in God who
determines the destinies of peoples of the nations." So spoke Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah on that day, little knowing his
words were destined to inspire Timothy Rossell, a capable music director and composer from London, England in 2001.
Rossell, it would appear, regards himself as something of a world citizen, not bound by the limitations of nation or tribe.
His interests are somewhat global.
"Music is an international language", he claims, "understood by all the people of the world. As a musician, I naturally compose
pieces relating to things that matter most in my life. When I heard Mr Jinnah espouse the specific virtues of unity, discipline
and faith, I was inspired to write a song about them. I wanted to honour his role in founding the nation of Pakistan, so a national
song based upon these values proved to be a perfect outcome."
Thus it came about that an Englishman of our age found himself crafting a piece designed to celebrate and proclaim our own
national ideals, bringing the words of 1948 into modern idiom. So inspired was he by this task, that he and his friends scoured
the world's archives for original recordings of The Speech, finally acquiring a tape of the Quaid's voice, courtesy of Radio
"The natural rhythm in the rhetorical rise and fall of Mr Jinnah's own voice lent itself perfectly to musical adaptation so I
decided the song should begin and end with the actual voice of the man himself."
But an original melody combined with the historical voice of authority cry out for an unusually skilled vocalist! Now Rossell
was faced with the most difficult question. Where could a suitable singer be found? How could any singer possibly do justice to
the complex demands of the composition? Even Whitney Houston or Madonna might be embarrassed by its tough requirements!
Timothy Rossell was considerably inspired therefore, not only in his composition, but in his selection of Sarah Francis, a
rising star, a bright young singer of Pakistani origin, British upbringing and no mean musical ability. Recognized earlier this
year as an "A" category artist by Pakistan TV, Sarah finds little difficulty in creatively embracing Rossell's rendering of the
national theme in such a way as to pump new life and vigour into the familiar words.
"Discipline.........the power of not giving in to the evil times we're living in. Faith........the power to give and the power
to live. Unity.......living together in sobriety as brothers and sisters.."
Musically, The Speech carries some important messages. From a technical perspective, it is exceedingly difficult.
"Unlike previous songs performed by Sarah, which showcased her remarkable vocal range by gradually moving toward climactic
peaks," Rossell says, "The Speech demands that the voice repeatedly leap between the lowest and highest tones of her incredible
range, which spans 44 notes of the chromatic scale (a standard harmonium plus seven semi-tones!). Accuracy of pitch cannot afford
to be sacrificed during these transitions. During every chorus of this song, Sarah is required to execute a series of octave
arpeggios, each successive one lower than the former."
Not only did she accomplish these remarkable feats with astonishing ease, she inspired Rossell to ingeniously incorporate a beat
into The Speech in order to make the words speak her own generation with new, fresh vibes.
"Garage is without question my favourite style of music," asserts 13-year-old Sarah with conviction, describing the new idiom
with its infectious rhythm and bass tones.
"Garage has certainly become the most popular sound at the forefront of the UK music scene and is already taking the US by
storm," admits Rossell.
Sarah sings a song about her hopes for unity among peoples, expressing her generation's longing to live in peace and faith
through self-discipline and determination.
Sarah Francis performed The Speech at the Pakistan High Commission, London for the flag-hoisting ceremony on Independence Day.
The song was also aired by several UK radio stations, including "Sunrise", Europe's biggest radio station, as well as English radio
When asked if he had contacted the government about his notable achievement, Timothy Rossell answered that as a matter of
courtesy he was sending the President of Pakistan a copy of the The Speech on CD.
Sarah's and Rossell's efforts and devotion will ensure that The Speech, with its message from a period gone by, is, nevertheless
here to stay, reverberating not only in our ears but also in our hearts, as we are called, in a most beautiful manner, to once
again ponder values from which the integrity of our communities and nations must necessarily be drawn.
Excerpts from The Speech:
Unity, brotherhood of immunity
From the division of humanity
The poverty of soul which takes control
If we don't stand up...
With Discipline, power of not giving in
To the evil times we're living in,
To the loss of control which takes over the soul
If we don't stand up...
In Faith, pure faith - not the words some people say,
But seen in the lives of the good each day,
The power to give and the power to live
Against the unbelief which comes like a thief
On those who will not stand for:
Discipline, faith and unity,
This is our glorious trinity:
Keeping us for eternity
In fraternity, in community.
August 19, 2001