The music of this group has its origins with the Talvandi classical school of Hindustani music. Mehr and Sher Ali were born in the Pakistani border-town of Kasur in the early 1950s and received their earlier training in classical music from their father who was a court classical singer at the small Sikh principality of Patiala (now in India). Their father then became the disciple of Fateh Ali Khan, the father of the famous Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and young Sher All was the student of Bakhshi Salamat Ali Qawwal. Meher Ali and Sher Ali thus acknowledge that the family of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is their “Ustad Gharan” or “Teacher House”, a term imbued with veneration among musician circles in Pakistan and North India . Meher Ali was taught by Muhammad Ali Fareedi, an ordained Sufi qawwal of the shrine of the 13th century Sufi, Baba Farid. Meher Ali was thus trained in Sufi poetry & philosophy.
All qawwals must have a deep knowledge of Sufi poetic texts. In practice, this often means sacrificing musical quality to retain purity of text. Meher and Sher are qawwals who have achieved the rare combination of both musical quality and authentic text rendition: Sher is known for his ability to understand the importance of rhythm (lai-kari) and render classical modes in a strong voice, while Mehr's heart-rending high pitched voice strikes the heart (zarb-ul-qalb) when the poetry contains words of entreaty or sorrow. Amjad Ali on the tabla generates more classical detail on his tabla than is normally expected of a qawwali tabla and says, “I strive to recite poetry with my hands.”
The group feels that their music brings harmony and peace to the soul and projects the message of love and unity for all. “We sometimes go into a trance during our performance, so moved are we by the text and music,” says Mehr Ali.
They believe that qawwali goes beyond the limitations of orthodox religion and is a universal invitation to all living beings to share in the feelings of the powerful emotion of pure love, the pain of separation and the joy of union. -Fateh Ali Sajid