Nusrat Fateh Ali’s contributions to music are innumerable. Born Pervez Fateh Ali Khan on 13th October, 1948 in Faisalabad, 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. In 2016, LA Weekly described him as 4th greatest singer of all time.
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. In 2001, he held the Guinness World Record of most qawwali recordings.