Nusrat Fateh Ali’s contributions to music are innumerable. He revived and revolutionized qawwali; the devotional Sufi music. Nusrat’s family had been singing qawwalis for ages. When Nusrat started singing with his uncle Mubarak Ali Khan, qawwali had lost its appeal in South Asia the place of its origin and was unheard of in the west.
Nusrat actually introduced qawwali to thousands of people. He sang with such devotion and zeal that he left the listeners even those who did not understand the lyrics were entranced. The sincerity, passion zest and the amazing intensity with which Nusrat sang qawwalis moved people regardless of their faith. He had a large audience in the West because he blended the traditional eastern music with western style. The result was that the western audience could relate to his music even though words were foreign.
Nusrat began his career in 1967, after his uncle’s death, he became the leader of his team. In 1973, EMI a Pakistani recording company released some albums featuring Nusrat and his uncle Mubarak Ali Khan. Nusrat’s immense talent was slowly being recognized and the Oriental Star Agencies of Birmingham UK signed him and so Nusrat performed in Britain in the early 80s. Many cassette companies of USA, Japan, Britain, Pakistan and other European countries released more than 50 albums of Nusrat Fateh Ali from 1973-93. However the Real World label brought Nusrat worldwide recognition.
Nusrat also composed the soundtrack of foreign movies like “Dead Man Walking”, “Natural Born Killers”, “Last Temptation of Christ” and the Hindi film “Bandit Queen”. Nusrat also worked with the British Raver “Massive Attack”. Nusrat also sang qawwalis for Pakistani and Hindi films and also composed music of some films.
Nusrat Fateh Ali was the winner of many prestigious international awards. His album Intoxicated Spirit was nominated for Grammy in 1997 in the best traditional folk album category.
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan suffered a heart attack and died on 16th August 1997. Music lovers all over the world mourned his death.
Nayyara Noor is a talented singer from Pakistan. She as received no formal training of music but her natural talent and her passion for music has made her the great singer she is today. As a child she was very fond of Akhtar Begum and listened to her ghazals attentively.
During her college days, her teachers heard her sing and encouraged her to participate in the Radio Pakistan’s University Program in 1968. Nayyara’s singing career officially began in 1971. She recorded songs for Pakistan Television and movies. As a playback singer; the versatility of her voice surprised many and won accolades plus a large number of fans. Her romantic songs pulled the strings of the listeners’ hearts; her tragic songs cast a melancholy spell and her jolly teasing songs left the listeners smiling. Nayyara Noor won two Nigar Awards for her playback singing.
Nayyara’s national songs renew the spirit of patriotism in you. Nayyara Noor is best known for her ghazal singing. The reserved and graceful Nayyara has literally immortalized the ghazals she has sung. Although she has rendered ghazals by Ghalib, Fayez Ahmed Fayez, Nasir Kazmi and Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, her best performance in my opinion is Behzad Lakhnavi’s “Aye gazba-e-dil gar mein chahoon” recorded for PTV.
Naheed Akhtar became popular with the masses with her very first song; a duet she sang with her sister. Her sister later got married and quit singing but for the teenaged Naheed Akhtar it was the first step towards an illustrious career.
Naheed Akhtar was soon everywhere if she was not recording songs for the radio and television, she was busy doing playback singing for the movies. People loved to hear her happy rapturous voice. Naheed Akhtar was a complete package. She could adopt sober tone when rendering ghazals (tum sey ulfat kay taqazay na nibhaaye jatey), the geets (light songs) she sang exuded charm and innocence (aati hai pawan, jati hai pawan), she was bubbly and chirpy when singing merry sort of flirtatious songs (tu tu tu tara tara and dekha jo mera jalwa), she could move you to tears with sad songs (humae ghum mila hamesha soort badaal badaal kay), there was immense passion and feelings in her voice when singing romantic songs (kisi meherbaan nay aake meri zindagi saja di) and who can forget her soulful Allah he Allah kiya karo.
Naheed Akhtar totally dominated the music scene with her versatile, melodious and powerful voice. Although films were her first priority, she made regular appearances on TV as well. Naheed was totally devoted to singing and was constantly improving herself.
Naheed Akhtar quit singing at the peak of her career when she got married in the mid 80s. Naheed Akhtar is leading a quiet life but has left behind her a legacy of memorable songs.
Mehnaz Begum is a famous singer of Pakistan who dominated the film music scene from the late 70s to the early 90s. Mehnaz’s mother Kajjan Begum was a good singer too and so music was in her genes. She started her singing career in 1970.
Mehnaz was well trained in classical music and she could sing ghazals well. She also recited the marsiyas and nohas during Muharram. Her claim to fame however remains playback singing. Mehnaz’s voice was beautiful, soft and melodious. She could portray emotions well and the composers approached her to sing songs whenever there was a dramatic moment in the movie. A true artist she sang with intensity and delivered every note high or low with perfection. Her lilting voice best suited romantic songs. Her romantic solos and duets were very popular and touched the hearts of the people. Mehnaz could create any mood with her flexible voice. Mehnaz is the only singer to have won 10 Nigar Awards, 7 of them consecutive.
Mehnaz was also a prolific ghazal singer. She sang Ahmed Faraz’s ghazal Jana so well that he dedicated it to her; an honor indeed.
Mehnaz is now married and settled in the USA. Mehnaz will always be remembered for her innumerable contributions to Pakistan’s music.
Farida Khanum the iconic ghazal singer of Pakistan was born in 1935 in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in the pre partitioned India. She was brought up in the city of Amristar.
She showed inclination towards music from an early age and used to accompany her elder sister Mukhtar Begum to Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan’s place where she (Mukhtar Begum) went for riyaaz (practice of classical music).
Mukhtar Begum was more than a sister to Farida Khanum; he was also her first teacher of classical music. From the tender age of seven, Farida Khanum learnt khayal from her sister. Later under Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan’s guidance she perfected her singing skills.
She chose to migrate to Pakistan when India was partitioned in 1947. Farida Khanum’s first public appearance was in 1950. She later sang for the Radio Pakistan; her deep rich voice ruled over the hearts of Pakistanis and fans across the border for years. Even today her melodious voice and her perfect rendition of ghazals remain unmatched.
When on stage her majestic presence, her total command over the classical raags and her style of delivering the lyrics really overawes the audience; after all she is the Malika e Ghazal (Queen of Ghazals).
Farida Khanum was awarded the Hilal-e- Imtiaz by the Pakistani government in 2005. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh honored her with the Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Award in 2005 too.
At the age of 74, Farida Khanum still exudes the same charm and magic when she sings. Farida Khanum is a living legend, a strong pillar on which the Pakistani music industry stands.
Pakistan has more types of music than most other countries. One genre originated in the 13th century as a form of religious expressionism. The person credited with the creation of Qawwali is Ameer Khusru. Qawwali, as it is known today, consists of a group performance. The group includes a lead vocalist (usually a sheikh), two back-up singers, and various percussionists. This dynamic music is played and loved by audiences in Pakistan as well as in other parts of Northern India. The music itself is played in many forms, but it is basically of Sufi origin. As religious music, it is supposed to express the mystical ideals of Sufism and of the Islamic religion. The beauty of this music lies more in the poetry than in the sounds. The poetry can sometimes be erotic; some Orthodox Muslims reject the genre as being too sexual in its expressions.
The singer known as “shehen-shah-e-qawwali”, meaning “qawwali’s brightest-shining star”, was Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. This remarkable and extremely popular singer brought the entire world in to share the magic of his style of music. In 1948 he was born into a musical family of Qawwali singers and performers. His “party”, as the musical group is referred to, included his uncle Mubarak Ali Khan and his brother Farrrukh Fateh Ali Khan. In 1997, he passed away but will never be forgotten. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is revered and remembered today as the man who popularized qawwali and allowed the world to listen and enjoy it!!