I’m going to talk about a legend personality whose name is attached with music. Music is the food of soul that teaches us love. Be it human beings or God, it makes us think about the infiniteness of love and tells us how to explore a happy life. After listening to the word legend, perhaps you have Freddie Mercury, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, John Lennon or Bruce Springsteen in your mind. Without any doubt, these all are great names, but for being a legendary singer one requires something extra, something out of the box, something innovative and something revolutionary.
You will be happy to know about the person I’m going to talk about because he is someone from home, someone closer, someone who was born in Faisalabad on October 13 1948. Can somebody guess?
Yes, I’m talking about the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
This man had a keen interest in music since his childhood. His father wanted him to be a doctor but his heart was not in it. He listened to the music and watched his father Fateh Ali Khan secretly while practicing music and different Raags and Tabla. He started music after his father’s death. He started his career as a Qawwal on March 23, 1965 on Radio Pakistan. He became the very first Qawwal to be invited to Ajmer Shrine in India in 1979. In 1980, he signed his very first international contract with British Label Star Cassette. In 1985, he had his first international performance in London, at the Womad festival.
Nusrat Sahib’s genra was not only limited to Qawwali, but he sang all types of songs i.e. Milli Naghmat, Classical folks, Ghazals and recited Hamds and Naats . His most popular tracks include Allah hoo, Wohi Khuda hai, Ye jo halka halka suroor h, tumhen dil lagi bhool jani parygi.
Secularization of music is a terminology used by the ‘Entertainment Weekly’ and the ‘Miami New Times’ because the singing of Sufi kalam by using non-Eastern electrical instruments as well as with ecstatic clapping and reedy sounds of harmonium, assumed to be used for religious music.
At the end, the unique feature of Nusrat Qawwali culture was he successfully engaged the youth in qawwali by adopting modern methods and innovations. In fact, his Qawwalis are still enjoyed by the youth today with certain further modifications. Coke studio’s recent track “Afreen Afreen” is a great example.
Everyone held Nusrat in the highest regard. The Japanese even went as far as considering him the reincarnation of Bhudda. Lata Mangheshkar said “God speaks through Nusrat’s tongue”. Jeff Buckley said “Nusrat is my Elvis”.
Unluckily no one despite the lasting legacy of Nusrat sahib, the global exposure, and acclaim, there is no one, who can fill his shoes, making people miss him all the more.
How appropriate are these words from his hit single, ‘Wo Hata Rahay Hain Parda’:
Ye jo hichkiyan musalsal, Mujhe aa rahi hain alam,
Koi le raha hai shayed, Koi le raha hai shayed,
Mera naam chupke chupke