Many Americans first heard his voice in the film Dead Man Walking, but he also introduced a new generation of Pakistanis to their own traditional music. Qawwali is a form of Sufi devotional music popular in South Asia, particularly in areas with a historically strong Muslim presence, such as southern Pakistan and parts of North India.
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s legacy has enraptured millions across the globe with his magnificent and haunting voice. In his lifetime he collaborated with many Western musicians, including Peter Gabriel, Eddie Vedder and Michael Brook. His vocals appeared on soundtracks to films directed by Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone and Tim Robbins.
Zareena Grewal grew up in a Pakistani family in the suburbs of Detroit. She now teaches religion at Yale, and grew up listening to Ali Khan's music.
"At moments, his voice could be smooth like honey, and at other moments, it takes on this texture and this coarseness — it's very gripping," Grewal says. "He's the great Pakistani musical gift to the world. He's sort of like the national musician, but also his name to me immediately has a religious charge because he was a Sufi, and the body of his work is mostly religious music."
‘Seminal’ is a word which often gets overused when describing great works of art but it is directly applicable to two of the albums he recorded for Real World Records, both of which were collaborations with Michael Brook: 1990’s Mustt Mustt and 1996’s Night Song. The latter was nominated for a Grammy, and was described by Billboard as ‘a work of great beauty… an album for the ages, defying genre and solidifying Khan’s stature as one of the world’s pre-eminent singers.’ In 1993, the late American singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley described Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as ‘my Elvis.’
DATA-X is a recognized specialist in the rare crossroads between South Asian Religion and it's relationship with Music. In this playlist, he presents a well-balanced array of NFAK's work with plenty of space for acoustic joy.