Shah Abdul Karim always referred to his compositions as Baul Gaan. He explored the roots of Baul philosophy through his music, much like Hason Raja, Radharaman Dutta, Ukil Munshi, Durbin Shah and many others.
Born in 1916 in Derai, an upazila of Sunamganj in Sylhet, Bangladesh, Shah Abdul Karim was raised in a musical family. Growing up in poverty, he did not attend school, and started expressing his emotions musically from a very young age.
He gained the knowledge of music and spirituality under the tutelage of Baul Shah Ibrahim Mastan Baksh. In 1957, Shah Abdul Karim started living in Ujan Dhol, a village near his home, with his wife, who greatly inspired his music. The atmosphere and the people of the village also played a key role in his life. Shah Abdul Karim’s compositions showcase deep thoughts of spirituality. Some of his notable songs include Murshid Dhono He Kemone Chinibo Tomare, Nao Banailo Banailo Re Kon Mestori, Ashi Bole Gelo Bondhu and Mon Mojale Ore Bawla Gaan, among many others.
He also wrote Gono Sangeet (songs of the masses), through which he expressed his feelings about the sufferings of mankind in a capitalist society. He has written and composed over 1,600 songs, which were compiled into six books. These books are Aftab Sangeet (1948), Gono Sangeet (1957), Kalnir Dheu (1981), Dholmela (1990), Bhatir Chithi (1998) and Kalnir Kooley (2001).
Before his death, Shah Abdul Karim was honoured with the title of Baul Samrat.