Guru of Peace: An Introduction to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
September 14, 2016 3:49 PM   Subscribe

Broadcast on BBC Radio 6, and now available online, composer "Nitin Sawhney presents an introduction to his vocal hero, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who was once dubbed the "Elvis of the East". ... He died at the age of 48 leaving a legacy of over 125 albums. ... His life and legacy is charted here with contributions from Peter Gabriel, his nephew Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Gaudi, actor Michael Sheen, singer Rumer, DJ's Andy Kershaw and Nihal, and producer Jonathan Elias amongst others." Part I and Part II.

"The legendary Qawwali singer's music came over to the UK from Pakistan in the seventies, thanks to the OSA label in Birmingham and the singer entranced Britain's Asian community. Peter Gabriel booked Nusrat for his Womad World Music Festival and subsequently signed him to his Real World label, opening up a whole new audience through his film soundtrack work like The Last Temptation Of Christ and Dead Man Walking. Plus, collaborations with Massive Attack and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder."

Qawwali / قوّالی (wikipedia)
posted by Celsius1414 (11 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
I grew up listening to his Ghazals thanks to my father. My dad always had his CDs in our car. I wasn't a big fan growing up, mostly just being a shithead kid who didn't want to listen to the music that my dad was into. I think I should go back and give it another try. I'm an adult now and I feel like I'd have a better experience this time around. Thanks for this post.
posted by Fizz at 3:54 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

My first exposure to him was Jonathan Elias's Prayer Cycle album (correct track listing here), which is one of my favorite semi-ambient albums. I look forward to watching this.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:30 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanking Peter Gabriel for the introduction. His voice expanded my world, and I am grateful. And more is good.
posted by rp at 7:59 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I can't tell if this kind of thing is a horrific offence against a musical tradition, or a happy introduction to another musical culture for Westerners: Dub Qawwali - Gaudi + Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
posted by sneebler at 8:12 PM on September 14, 2016

I first encountered him in Dub Qawwali, it's a ok introduction.

I knew he had died, but at 48?! Always pictured him as 75 or so. Not just because of the sheer volume of work, but an impression of wisdom and peace.
posted by joeyh at 8:17 PM on September 14, 2016

The anecdote about westerners jumping around rocking out to Allahu Allahu is killing me with laughter.
posted by cendawanita at 8:24 PM on September 14, 2016

I got bored trying to watch the video and listen to the speakers, so I just plugged in youtube, and watched one amazing performance, then I have just let it run all evening. It is awesome. I love how they tune up their voices before getting going. Wonderful, wonderful.
posted by Oyéah at 8:26 PM on September 14, 2016

This story is sort of embarrassing, because it makes me sound like Thomas Friedman... but anyway one late night in New York City in the mid 90's, I jumped into a cab and heard Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for the first time. The cab driver had it pumping fairly loud and I was just entranced. When I left the cab, I asked him what we had been listening to and he told me. I tried very hard to remember, but it was late at night and I wasn't totally sober.

The next day I went to Other Music but they couldn't help me, they played some stuff that might have been similar but it just didn't sound the same as what I remembered. I went to Tower Records, they didn't know what I was looking for. The web wasn't well developed and couldn't help me. Then a year or even two later, I was in a record store in Seattle and heard that magical voice again... it was the song with Eddie Vedder. I was so excited, I had forgotten about my brief obsession with tracking down that voice.

Since then I've listened regularly to his music, I'm not an expert or completist, but I feel that there is something so exceptional, soothing, emotional about his voice, it's truly one of the voices that's spoken the most directly to me and I don't even understand the lyrics to most of the songs (some I've looked up).
posted by cell divide at 9:31 PM on September 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

His collaboration with Michael Brook Night Song is fantastic, if you're looking for a quick fusion-y way into his work. I bought it 20 years ago and am still listening to it.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:44 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

He was also a major influence on Jeff Buckley.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:33 PM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Love and still miss the Master... Saw him several times in the 90s at various locations around the world.

Regarding the Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam fame collaboration on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack, pretty sure he said he'd only given them scales to work with. Felt anything else would be inappropriate. Local station KEXP ran an interview with Vedder talking about being in awe during the recording session; my vocalist Katie and I laughed hysterically (because of course Edward...). Then they played it and the laughter only grew louder.

I was already in love with his work when I walked into a Pakistani grocery somewhere in San Francisco in 1991. My friends and I loved the place for the cds they sold. That day they had one by proto-Raga-style Bhangra genius Bally Sagoo in collaboration with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khaaaaaaannnnnnn.... Trigger the freakout of the year. Magic Touch!

Most of the disc doesn't hold up in 2016, but their version of Jhoole Jhool Lal, the must-must song, is still superb, superb, superb. Fuck that; it is sublime.
posted by artof.mulata at 2:13 PM on September 17, 2016

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