Noor Jehan, the singer-actress known as the Queen of Melody in the Indo-Pak subcontinent, died in Karachi Dec. 23 after a protracted illness. She was 74.

Noor Jehan, named after the Mugal empress, was born in Kasur, northern Pakistan, and was blessed with a unique voice and developed a deep understanding of classical music at a tender age that led her to an unrivaled career in music and acting.

Thousands of songs she sang over five decades in both Urdu and Punjabi made her the region’s most popular singer of the 20th century and an epic cultural figure.

Besides gifting music lovers with countless ghazals (regional style of semi-classical singing) and film songs, she inspired soldiers and citizens alike.

She started as a child artist and immediately won accolades for her versatile talent. In undivided India, the 1942 production “Khandan” (The Family) was her first major movie, and she became an instant hit both as a singer and an actress.

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“Jugnoo” (Firefly) was her last production in Bombay. In 1947 with the division of the subcontinent, she moved to Lahore with her husband, Syed Shaukat Hussain Rizvi, a film producer and director.

In the 1960s and 1970, she took ethnic Punjabi music to new heights. In Punjabi film.