Fri, 19 October 18
Released 09 November 1992
At the 1985 WOMAD Festival, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and his Party gave one of their finest ever performances outside Pakistan. As a result Nusrat decided to record his favourite songs with new arrangements specially for WOMAD. Now re-released on Real World Records, these beautiful songs with accompanying mandolin and guitar capture the lighter folk elements of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s music.
Qawwali music is the devotional music of the Sufis, usually sung in Urdu, Punjabi or Persian. The lyrics are in praise of God (Allah), his Prophet (Mohammed), his friend (Ali) and other Muslim Saints.
It is inspirational and mystical music intended to elevate the spirit, bringing both listener and singer closer to God. For the Sufis there are two kinds of grace, both equally important: “Those with melodious voices, and those endowed with the power to appreciate them.”
The music on this album focuses upon the ghazal. The word ghazal is from the Arabic “to converse with women”, a dialogue between “beauty and love”— filled with a great range of moods and feelings, both overt and esoteric. It originated in the land of Hafiz and Sadi (present-day Iran) —the home of the Persian language, Urdu, in which it is generally sung.
The popularity of the form, however, has led to the migration of the ghazal to wherever Asian people live in the world and into languages other than Urdu —such as Hindi, Punjabi and Gujarati.
The Sufis have added many elements to the evolution of the ghazal —potent symbols like “the wine”, “the rose”, “the nightingale”. “Love”, however, has remained the perennial theme.
The ghazal calls for acute interpretation and sensitivity from the performer. The lyrics, with their fleeting emotions, their symbolism and nuances, are perfectly expressed by the ecstatic voice of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
A ghazal or love song. Translated literally, this title means: “She is boldly unveiling in front of everyone and I am cowardly concealing.”
“Your bewitching looks intoxicate. I have turned to drink and am in a constant spell.”
A contemporary love song meaning: “If you cannot remain before my eyes please give me back my heart.”
A traditional Punjabi song meaning: “My eyes shed tears in memory of a loved one who has departed.”
A traditional Punjabi Bhajan. “At every beat of my heart thoughts of you come flooding!” It tells of a woman so deeply in love with Lord Krishna that she names him on every head of her rosary and has lost her own identity as a result.
“What shall I do when I reach my beloved’s doorstep? Don’t ask for I shall not tell you”
The Khan family have been developing the art of Qawwali for over six centuries. Nusrat himself, however, had no intention of becoming a Qawwal. He only decided to sing after a recurring dream convinced him this was the path to follow.
He dreamt he was singing at the famous shrine of Hazrat Khawaja Moin-ud-Din Chishtie at Ajmer in India. At first he believed it to be absurd —no Qawwal had ever been allowed to sing inside this most famous of Muslim shrines. He was sufficiently persuaded, however, that he should follow in his father’s footsteps —and he became leader of the Qawwali Party in 1971. Astonishingly enough, Nusrat’s dream proved to be true. In 1979 when the singer and his Party visited the famous shrine as pilgrims, Nusrat was invited to sing —the very first Qawwal to have received this honour.
The sophistication and complexity of Qawwali music requires years of dedicated training and absolute co-ordination within the Party as a whole. The melodies and verses, however, are so immediately appealing that they are greatly loved by everyone —including children. They are the result of improvisation between Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and other performers and the scales depend upon the time of day and the quality of the lyric.
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s rise to fame has been phenomenal. Touring worldwide and receiving prizes and recognition as the world’s greatest exponent of Qawwali in its purest classical form, he is known as Shahen-Shah-e-Qawwali: ‘The King of Qawwali’.
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