Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: Pakistan’s ‘fearless’ musical icon


By Usaid Siddiqui | Al Jazeera | Pakistan |

Grammy winner and Pakistani singer Arooj Aftab said she has been a fan of qawwali maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s music since she was eight years old, as her parents would blast Khan’s songs in the car when she was living in Saudi Arabia.

“I can never forget those versions of Nusrat’s qawwalis, and how they resonated in my little body,” the 37-year-old Brooklyn-based artist told Al Jazeera via email.

Qawwali, which means “utterance”, is a form of Sufi devotional music with lyrics largely focusing on praising God, and the Muslim Prophet Muhammad and his son-in-law Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib.

Primarily sung in Urdu and Punjabi, and occasionally in Farsi, the genre dates back to the 13th century in the Indian subcontinent.

Salman Ahmad of Sufi rock band Junoon said the singing of the “Shahenshah-e-Qawwali” [King of Kings of Qawwali] “transported the listener to higher dimensions of mystical ecstasy and a yearning for the divine”.

“His Pavarotti-like vocal range of low to high would just give me goosebumps … his impeccable rhythm, pitch and the emotional tenor of his voice … it was soul stirring,” the 58-year-old Ahmad told Al Jazeera from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

Ahmad said Khan had great stamina and could go into the small hours of the night performing without compromising the quality of his singing.

See the full story. ‘Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: Pakistan’s ‘fearless’ musical icon’ (Al Jazeera, 16 Aug 2022), here.


Qawwali giant Nusrat Fateh had fan base in Japan: BBC (Asia Samachar, 11 Sept 2015)

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