Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (October 13, 1948 – August 16, 1997), a world-renowned Pakistani musician, was primarily a singer of Qawwali, the devotional music of the Sufis (a mystical tradition within Islam). Considered one of the greatest singers ever recorded, he possessed a six-octave vocal range and could perform at a high level of intensity for several hours. Extending the 600-year old Qawwali tradition of his family, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is widely credited with introducing Sufi music to international audiences. He was popularly known as “Shahenshah-e-Qawwali”, meaning “The King of Kings of Qawwali”.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan holds the world record for the largest recorded output by a Qawwali artist—a total of 125 albums as of 2001.
Khan was taken ill with kidney and liver failure on August 11, 1997 in London, England, while on the way to Los Angeles in order to receive a kidney transplant. He died of a sudden cardiac arrest at Cromwell Hospital, London, on Saturday, August 16, 1997, aged 48. His body was returned to Faisalabad, Pakistan, and his funeral was attended by the public.
Composition of Nusrat’s Qawwali Party
The composition of Nusrat’s ensemble, called a “party” (or “Humnawa” in Urdu), changed over its 26 years. Listed below is a snapshot of the party, circa 1983:
- Mujahid Mubarak Ali Khan: Nusrat’s first cousin, vocals
- Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan: Nusrat’s brother, vocals and lead harmonium
- Rehmat Ali: vocals and second harmonium
- Maqsood Hussain: vocals
- Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: Nusrat’s nephew and pupil, vocals
- Dildar Hussain: percussion
- Majawar Abbas: mandolin and guitar/chorus, handclapping
- Mohammed Iqbal Naqvi: secretary of the party, chorus, handclapping
- Asad Ali: chorus, handclapping. Nusrat’s cousin
- Ghulam Farid: chorus, handclapping
- Kaukab Ali: chorus, handclapping