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. It was originally performed at Sufi shrines in South Asia. It gained popularity in 20th century. 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. Waris Brothers, Rizwan Muazzam, Faiz Ali Faiz and Waheed and Naveed Chistis are among recent Qawwals.