Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Qawwali master  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in


I promised a "series" of looks at major figures in particular music styles. After the Fela Kuti post, I realized that it was kind of hard. So here's a stripped-down "Fill in the Blank from Who Knows Where" post.

Part 2
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
From: Pakistan
Style: Qawwali, devotional music of the Sufi religion

I actually had an English professor who was Sufi, which was a bit odd as he was white. But he also painted his finger/toenails gold, looked like Santa Claus, and ran a massage therapy clinic. His class wasn't the first place I heard of Qawwali - I picked up my first Ustad Khan disc at the library in high school.

Basically this is soothing, devotional music sung to Allah, usually in Urdu or Punjabi, running 15 to 30 minutes. Ustad (an honorific in Persian, Arabic, Hindu, Urdu, etc. It means about the same as Master or Maestro) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is a singer only, the music in the qawwali party is mostly harmonium and male singers, known as qawwals. Ali Khan is primarily responsible for the modern incarnation of qawwali, and for what limited international exposure it has gotten. In fact, if you google "qawwali", you'll find a fan site as the fourth listing, after the requisite Wikipedia entry of course.

This song is from "Final Recordings", which were his, well, final recordings, produced by Rick Rubin (yep!).

Too Kareemi Man Kamina Barda Am

Links:
Wikipedia
nusrat.info

In the course of my "research" for this post, I found an awesome blog called Up the Downstair, a weekly podcast of shows from diverse artists. Check out this post on Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, featuring way more biographical information than mine, and also a full-length performance of Ustad Khan's.

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