Monday, August 8, 2016


One of my reactions to the tragic events of September 11, 2001 was to listen to as much Muslim music as possible, letting the sounds create a sympathetic vibe with the Muslim soul and inoculate me against the anti-Muslim hatred and prejudice so openly displayed then (and today).  I listened to Nusrat Ali Fateh Khan and to Natacha Atlas, to Zakir Hussain and to Muslimgauze, as well as fusion artists like Transglobal Underground and Banco de Gaia and even Claude Challe's Buddha Bar compilations, anything, really, that didn't sound like Born In The USA.  

It worked.  I didn't become a Muslim, but I didn't get on the intolerant, racist bandwagon either. Unfortunately, the hatred hasn't gone away (cough, Donald Trump, cough), and so we probably need the Fanna-Fi-Allah Sufi Qawwali Ensemble now as much as ever. 

Listen to the soaring vocals and watch the smiling faces.  How can you not love these people?

I remember the first time I heard reggae (1972, while camping in a diesel van), and the first time I heard zydeco (1985, in Atlanta's now-long-defunct Blues Alley).  I first heard Qawwali in the early 80s on some Peter Gabriel-curated WOMAD LPs featuring the amazing Pakistani singer Nusrat Ali Fateh Khan. For those of you new to the genre, here's the Cliff Notes version (actually, Wikipedia):
Qawwali (Hindi:क़व्वाली; Bangla: কাওয়ালি) is a form of Sufi devotional music popular in South Asia: in the Punjab and Sindh regions of Pakistan; in Hyderabad, Delhi and other parts of India, especially North India; as well as Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet and many parts of Bangladesh. It is part of a musical tradition that stretches back for more than 700 years. Originally performed mainly at Sufi shrines or dargahs throughout South Asia, it has also gained mainstream popularity. 

No comments:

Post a Comment