A tribute in song

Thirty-four year-old Rizwan Ali Khan and 28 year-old Muazzam Ali Khan are in Mumbai for the first time, on tour, to pay a tribute to their late uncle Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who passed away in 1997. He was known for taking Qawwali music, a form of Sufi devotional music, from the dargahs of the subcontinent and exposing it to the rest of the world to appreciate.

Rizwan Ali Khan

The duo has been brought to the city by Inroom Records and will sing traditional Qawwalis to commemorate their uncle and this 750 year-old Sufi tradition, accompanied by five secondary singers, a harmonium and a tabla. And, they will perform in the the traditional Qawwali style — choosing to sit on the ground rather than on seats. This, they believe, brings them closer to God.

Muazzam Ali Khan

Their 90-minute performance will include 12 to 15 songs previously sung by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan himself, which include Afreen Afreen. The duo aims to introduce the younger generation to this traditional Qawwali music. “We have been rehearsing every day, every hour, ever minute,” says Rizwan. Remembering the Ustad, Riwan says, “While we trained with Ustadji following the guru-shishya parampara, we also learnt a lot from just watching him from backstage as he performed. We were young then, but it was an exhilarating feeling to see and hear him sing.”

Rizwan and Muazzam began singing together as teenagers and since then have performed all over the world, including Delhi, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US. The brothers were first internationally exposed via their performance in the UK at the WOMAD Festival in Reading in
July 1998.

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