Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Born 13th October 1948 Faisalabad (Lyallpur), Pakistan
Died 16th August 1997 London, United Kingdom
On Saturday 16th August 1997 Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan passed away in London. His first British performance was in Birmingham in 1980,organized by Oriental Star Agencies,from then on he toured the country almost every year.
His family had been Qawwali (Sufi devotional music) singers for six centuries.
During his lifetime he revitalised Qawwali , making it an internationally acclaimed art form. From Birmingham to Bombay , Tokyo to Toronto his concerts and new recordings were eagerly awaited.
Whether he was performing at music festivals, for world leaders or at the shrines of Sufi saints in his beloved Punjab he transported listeners to the realms of sublime and ecstasy.
When asked about the critics who accused him of corrupting the traditional Qawwali by introducing innovations he answered "tradition should not be seen as a dead thing, it is the responsibility of musicians to make music for the people of their time."
In the sub-continent Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs alike appreciated his music. In a world where differences are more and more being exploited to divide people he used his unrivalled talent to unify audiences.
Thirteenth century Sufi poet and musician Amir Khusrau said that music was the fire that burnt heart and soul. In the twentieth century Usatd Nusrat Fateh Ali was the carrier of that fire. Those who saw and heard him perform ecstatic improvisations will miss him greatly. Those who have yet to discover him are fortunate that his angelic voice has been left behind on a vast collection of recordings.