After a conversation with my friend Husain Naqvi earlier tonight (at whose valima in Karachi I enjoyed one of the best live qawwalis of my life–and who touchingly actually shed tears in my presence upon learning of Nusrat‘s death!), I thought it would be a good thing to present here at 3QD what are probably the three most famous qawwali singers of all time for the nostalgic enjoyment of those of us who are dedicated to this beautiful genre of music (we listened to it on weekends, especially, in Pakistan), and also, of course, as an introduction to the form for the rest of you.
This first qawwali by master singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (the young boy who often matches Nusrat note-for-note here, but in a much higher key, is his brother Farrukh’s talented son Rahat Fateh Ali Khan) is dedicated to my friend Marko Ahtisaari who is a huge Nusrat fan, and himself, among so many other things, a supremely accomplished musician:
This second qawwali by Aziz Mian is dedicated to my dear friend Shabbir Kazmi, a New York City architect, and a great fan, like me, of Aziz Mian:
And last, but by no means least, the third qawwali is dedicated to my brother, Javed, who turned me on to, and shared his love of, the Sabri Brothers (and so much else!) when I lived with him in Kamra, Pakistan, so many eons ago:
Oh, and if you want some extra-credit, here is a bonus longish Nusrat video containing a couple of songs (the part between songs where Nusrat, Farrukh, Rahat, Nusrat’s fivish-year-old daughter, and even an unidentified infant, simply sing “aaaaeeaaaeeaaaaaa…” is really what you need to understand if you are going to get this music!), courtesy, once again, of Husain Naqvi. Notice the incredible grace and authority of Nusrat’s physical movements, especially his hands. Notice also the uncanny, inexplicable and really ultimately ineffable warmth of Nusrat’s voice. And once again, there is video here of Nusrat’s nephew Rahat (who’s father, Nusrat’s brother Farrukh, can almost always be seen sitting just next to Nusrat’s left hand, playing the harmonium and backing him up vocally) who succeeded Nusrat in leading the troop after Nusrat’s far too-early death. (I stood and sadly swayed next to Philip Glass at the last Rahat concert I went to in Manhattan.)