Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – The undisputed emperor of Qawwali Music
As the saying goes, that Music has no language and boundaries, a fact which was reiterated and well proven by the Shehnsha of Qawwali, Ustaad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; for whom language and boundaries had literally never been barriers.
Qawwali is the devotional music of Sufis, and Khan Shb is undoubtedly the emperor of this genre.
His Qawwali depicts the faith and the trust on the divine source. He captures the heart like no one has ever done before; very easily when he sings; – Dikhayi bhi jo na de nazar bhi Jo aa raha hai, wohi khuda hai. “He is not visible, but yet he is apparent (In the surrounding), and that is the only God”.
An amazing explanation lies in the depth of this philosophy. Khan Shb made his presence visible to the world and performed all over the world to a diverse audience.
I remember the first time when I attended the Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s concert. From the moment he began to sing till the end, the rest of the auditorium disappeared and I felt as I am sitting alone in a world of my own; enveloped in the mesmeric and incredibly powerful voice of Khan Shb.
I was lucky enough to have an encounter with this exceptional talent, having distinctive composition quality and the vocal range, where he was capable on singing Qawwalis on the highest notes for hours and hours, which makes him unique and illuminates various aspects of his life. His numero uno status was well versed when he had opportunities to work with various international artists like Peter Gabriel and Michael Brook, where they did not understand the language; but the language of music.
In 1987, Khan Shb received the President of Pakistan’s Award for Pride of Performance for his contribution to Pakistani music. In 1995 he received the UNESCO Music Prize.
Alexandra A. Seno of Asiaweek once wrote: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s voice was from another world. For 25 years, his mystical songs transfixed millions. His vocal range, talent for improvisation and sheer intensity were unsurpassed.
16th August 1997 was his last day on this earth, but his Qawwalis are embossed in the history of Sufi Music forever.