Although he was an exponent of the Qawali (mystic) singing but he used his musical skills of the classical art form of music to blend it with contemporary music to an extent that he can be called the pioneer of this individualistic style by harnessing the vocal of his high pitched voice that depicted the cry and pathos of the common man.
Born to a distinguished family from Jalandher with a 600 year-long tradition of performing Qawali, his deceased father and uncles are still remembered as great masters of Qawali.
Mr Nusrat began to seriously pursue Qawali career only after the death of his father. However, since his debut in 1965 as the lead singer of the group, he had distinguished himself as a qawal - a singer of Qawali music. He was known as the “Shahenshah-e-Qawall” - the king of Qawali.
Nusrat Khan continued to perform Qawali in religious rites - the original form in which Qawali is sung-at mausoleums of revered saints in Pakistan, while at the same time giving concerts at more convenient venues.
The superb singing talent and musical skill of this great master of Qawali, alongwith his strong command of Urdu, Farsi (Persian) and his native language, Punjabi, had enabled him to sing the mystic poetry 4 written in these languages with fluency and expressiveness.
He was also famous for his unparalleled repertoire, which extended to several thousands of songs. In appreciation of his excellence, the Government of Pakistan award him the President’s Pride of Performance in 1987.
In the summer of 1985, Mr Nusrat Fateh All Khan performed at the World Music arts and Dance festival (WOMAD) in London, where he stood out as the most promising singer. After the success of that summer, he began to perform music more freely.
His various experimentation, such as the use of seat-like singing improvisation, brought a fresh breeze into the traditional world of Qawali. His concerts in Paris in 1985 and 1988 were received with great enthusiasm as his amazing vocal performances produced a craze for his music throughout Europe. His first visit to Japan took place in 1987, at the invitation of the Japan Foundation.
His participation in seminars and his performance atthe 5th Asian Traditional Performing Art Festival and subsequent concerts in Japan had earned him a steadily increasing number of fans in this country.
These achievements, taken together had an immeasurable impact on cultural exchange between the East and the West, led to the enhancement of both cultures, and thus made Ustad Nusrat Fateh All Khan particularly worthy of receiving the Arts and Culture Prizes of various countries and made his name synonymous with International Music.
Khan Sahib was a regular performer of Pakistan Television ever since its inception, in Qawali programmes but with his amalgamation of modern music in traditional music, the demand of his songs, as a soloist became more in the enthusiastic young crowed.
To cater to this demand PTV also launched a series of musical programmes entitled “Nusrat Fateh All Khan Show” which was aired for three months on weekly basis.
His international tours with regards to his musical performances to experiment and inter-act with the diversified musical skills of musicians of international repute earned him unparalleled place.
He could undoubtedly be acclaimed as the cultural ambassador of Pakistan He died on 16th August, 1997.
Courtesy: Pakistan Television Corporation.
To commemorate the 2nd Death Anniversary of Music Maestro Pakistan Post Office is issuing a commemorative postage stamp of Rs 2 denomination on August 16,1999.