QAWWALI GROUP COMES OF AGE DURING STUNNING UK TOUR
Shortly before Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan passed away, he was offered an incredible record deal in America that included an unlimited budget and opportunity to work with pretty much any A-list pop star in the world.
The legendary maestro suddenly dying of a cardiac arrest at the Cromwell Hospital in London on August 16 1997, aged just 48, left a massive hole in the music industry and halted the global march of the qawwali genre.
His nephew Rahat Fateh Ali Khan tried to fill the qawwali void, but he only became globally famous because of commercial Bollywood songs.
Ustad Nusrat’s other nephews, Rizwan and Muazzam Ali Khan also attempted to take the qawwali legacy forward after his death, but they seemed like a work in progress despite delivering acclaimed albums and explosive live performances.
But with their recent tour organised by UK-based Asian Arts Agency, the brothers finally came of age and all those in the audience, including myself, could feel something special was happening on stage. This was largely due to the very impressive way in which Muazzam Ali Khan took the lead and became the first in a generation to show shades of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Legendary music mogul Muhammad Ayyub MBE, who founded the UK’s first South Asian record label Oriental Star Agencies and discovered Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, felt the group had come of age. He said: “I think they have improved a lot during the last few years. Yes, they have what it takes to take Nusrat’s legacy forward. When I was listening to the party at the Town Hall in Birmingham, it took me back to 1979 when the legendary Nusrat and Mohd Rafi performed on the same stage. I was totally emotionally involved in the concert.”
Right from the free-flowing performance style to his vocal tone and adding a unique spin on classic qawwali songs, Muazzam mesmerised audiences with his mastery and received amazing support from a talented group that includes his brother Rizwan.
Jaswinder Singh, director of Asian Arts Agency said it was a very successful tour and the demand from audiences was huge. He said: “As nephews of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, it’s very difficult to be compared with the legend. However, to me, at this tour, they have come of age and have established their own identity as true next generation qawwals. They have a rare ability, exceptional talent and abundance of energy, which makes their performance unique. I have no doubt we will see much more of them in the future.”
Leading qawwali promoter Abid Iqbal from Say Arts agreed and thinks there is a lot more to come from them. He said: “Rizwan Muazzam qawwals are the torchbearers of the Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan qawwali legacy. They are promoting qawwali of the purest form and keeping the tradition alive. I have been promoting qawwali on an international level for 17 years now and am a huge fan of their work. They are making improved and polished performances year upon year, and will get even better.”