Shumaila Hemani (PhD), is an Ethnomusicologist, specializing in the poetry and music of Muslim South Asia. She currently teaches at the University of Alberta in the Faculty of Extension's Department of Communications and Design and has taught courses in the Music Department, University of Alberta, and Semester at Sea’s (SAS) Spring 2020 voyage.
Her research about the sung poetry of the Islamic mystic Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai and associated hereditary communities of singers in the Sindh region of Pakistan has received several honors and awards including First Prize for her conference paper at the Society for Ethnomusicology Conference (2017), Laura Bassi Dissertation Fellowship (2018), Frank Henderson Award in the study of Women and Religion (2016), State of Kuwait Award in Islamic Studies (2015) to name a few. She has published in the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures (Brill) and has an upcoming chapter in Music and Social Justice (The Indiana University Press).
Shumaila is also a Sufi singer-songwriter who brings to diverse listeners around the world new musical interpretations to the traditional repertoire learned from master musicians in Pakistan. Her upcoming album Mannat (A prayer, A Wish) presents poems learned from two master musicians in Pakistan. Based around the concept of supplication and saint worship that are practices are braced by many religious cultures, yet still resisted by mainstream orthodoxies who deem them as superstitious and illegitimate, her musical poetry works to decolonize intercultural conversations by resisting cultural essentialism and offers prayers for the health and wellness of the world.