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Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Born 13th October 1948 Faisalabad (Lyallpur), Pakistan.

Died 16th August 1997 London, United Kingdom.

On Saturday 16th August 1997 Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan passed away in London. His first British performance was in Birmingham in 1980, organised by Oriental Star Agencies, from then on he toured the country almost every year.

His family had been Qawwali (Sufi devotional music) singers for six centuries.

During his lifetime he revitalised Qawwali, making it an internationally acclaimed art form. From Birmingham to Bombay, Tokyo to Toronto his concerts and new recordings were eagerly awaited.

Whether he was performing at music festivals, for world leaders or at the shrines of Sufi saints in his beloved Punjab he transported listeners to the realms of sublime and ecstasy.

When asked about the critics who accused him of corrupting the traditional Qawwali by introducing innovations he answered "tradition should not be seen as a dead thing, it is the responsibility of musicians to make music for the people of their time."

In the sub-continent Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs alike appreciated his music. In a world where differences are more and more being exploited to divide people he used his unrivalled talent to unify audiences.

Thirteenth century Sufi poet and musician Amir Khusrau said that music was the fire that burnt heart and soul. In the twentieth century Usatd Nusrat Fateh Ali was the carrier of that fire. Those who saw and heard him perform ecstatic improvisations will miss him greatly. Those who have yet to discover him are fortunate that his angelic voice has been left behind on a vast collection of recordings.

We at Oriental Star Agencies feel proud of our association with Khan Sahib which has continued from beginning of his career to his tragic and untimely death.

May his soul rest in peace.


By Ustad Ghulam Haider Khan

QAWWALI, a mystic style of Music is one of the innovations of Hazrat Amir Khusrau. Its primordial name was Sama'a. When Hazrat Moinuddin Chishtie came from Sanjar-a town of Iran to Ajmer (India) to preach Islam, he thoroughly studied the Hindu style of Preaching and found that they were very fond of music, and music was in all rites and rituals of the Hindus. The Brahmins used to sing Ashloks, Shabads and Bhajans with percussion and wind instruments,. So, he adopted the same Hindu way of preaching among the new Muslims and after some years, lacs of Hindus embraced Islam in Ajmer and afterwards it got familiarity and spreaded in every part of the Sub-Continent. The evolution of Qawwali vr Sama'a is centuries old. It came from Khorasan (Iran) where the nomad singers performed their songs with drum-beats and hand-clapping A leading singer used to sing the Persian rhymes and the other partymen accompanied him with I~andclapping. Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti, being an Iranian, experimented the same style, for the Islamic-cum-preaching style before the Hindus and they came under the tutelage of Hazrat Moinuddin and embraced Islam one-by-one. This way of preaching got-the name qawwali in the era of Amir Khusrau, the disciple of Khawaja Nizamuddin Aulia, in the l3th A.D. Khusrau's innovation of Qawwali depicted with Qawal, Qalbana, Rung, Naqsh, Gul, etc. The Qawwali was started from Qawwal-Bachey clan of Delhi and it emphasised the musicians of the era to adopt, especially the Sufis (mystics) were much lured and influenced by this style of singing qawwali became "Must" in all the sects of Islamic preaching.

When harmonium was invented it became the part and parcel of a Qawwal party. The qawwals of the yore have been using many instruments, i.e. ~aran~i, Dilruba, Taoos, Rebab, Dholak as accompanying instruments. But in later years only Tabla and harmonium became prominent due to its loudness.

In the last five decades, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan were considered the past-master of the Qawwali. Both the brothers were gre.n Ustads of classical Music and their virtuosity in Qawwali is acknowledged by every one. Especially, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan Qawwal was a great musicologist. Vocalist and instrumentalist. Many renowned classical vocalists, instrumentalists ;mcl

Qawwals were taught under his tutelage. Ustad Fateh Ali Khan Qawwal was a great patriot. On Pakistan's Movement, he composed many good tunes in the praise of Muslim League and Quaid-e-Azam. He performed these tunes in every nook and corner of the Sub-Continent and gave the message of Allama Iqbal and the Quaid to the nation and alert them from the hypocrite Hindus and irijected the people for the want of Pakistan. And when Pakistan came into being, Kh. Nazimuddin and Nawabzada Liaquat Ali ~Khan applauded much and acknawledged the great Service of Ustad Fateh Ali Khan Qawwal. The Government of Pakistan gave them the richest award "Pride of Performance" in 1960. Ustad Fateh Ali Khan Qawwal died in 1964. At that time his son Nusrat was in Matric. He was compelled to join the party by his family members. Under the guidance af his paternal Uncle Ustad Mabarak Ali Khan, he became the Party's leader and the party started with the new title --- Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Mujahid Mabarak Ali Khan & Party. IN no time, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan got hold on all the prominent Qawwal parties and his familiarity spreaded like the jungle's fire in the country. Then the famous ntovies maker Rajkapoor booked him on his son Rishi Kappor's marriage in Bombay. In India, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan gave a remarkable perfarmance on many stages and spellbound the audience by his untouchable speed of "Sargam" and astonishing rhythmetic use in qawwali . After this tour, Nusrat got the unmatched position in the Sub-Continent. In the yester years he toured abroad. He was booked in Great Britain by WOMAD festival; he toured successfully to France, Japan, Holland, South Africa, Portugal Mid-East and Saudi Arabia. He performed Hajj and observed "Umra" twicely. The Government of Pakistan, on his splended services to represent Pakistan's Culture in foreign countries honoured him with "Pri~le of Performance in 1986."

After his tour of Amercia, the American government moved by his stj.~le of Qawali and songs; honoured Nusrat to teach his music and give some lectures to the University students in America. Nusrat a versatile singer for the great composer, Peter Gabriel, who booked him for his movie "The Last Temptation of Christ" as a playback singer and obviously its a great honour for a Pakistani Singer.

Nusrat Khan is now, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. He is a great ctasical vocalist of the calibre. For the last 23 years, he too is singing classical music on the Anniversary of his father at Faisalabad. He gave many unforgettable classical performances on stages of Arijuman Ittehad, Mosiqaran LHR.; Classical Music Guild (Pak) All Pakistan Music Conferences. He won a great many titles. Most probably from every country where he performed and many appreciable nicknames i.e. Mr. Ali Ali Mr. Allah Hoo, Buddha etc etc. Ustad Nusrat s contributions in Qawali classical music and compositions are marvellous. His name is a certificate in all the spheres of music. His luring personality wins the hearts of his visitors. He is a thorough gentleman, hosptialble and sympathetic. He is a pride of Pakistan and pakistan is proud of him.