Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan–Yeh Jo Halka Halka Suroor Hai

His name doesn’t come up much today, but Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was a worldwide sensation when he was alive.  Collaborating with Peter Gabriel and leading Jeff Buckley to declare he was “his Elvis,” Nusrat performed passionate Qawwali, a form of Islamic devotional music, for audiences the world over.  Live versions of songs like Yeh Jo Halka Halka Suroor Hai could easily stretch for half an hour, with Nusrat singing up to ten hours on some occasions.  Listening to any of Buckley’s early live performances reveals a striking direct influence.  The cracked, impassioned flourishes; songs that stretch out and contract back on themselves without overstaying their welcome; even the tones Buckley reaches for are clear attempts to channel Khan, who had an unmatched liveliness in his voice.  To hear him sing was to hear a person perform religious ecstasy.  It wasn’t distant or alienating, though, as watching someone truly emotional can sometimes be.  Instead it was a warming experience, even frenzy inducing for some.  His voice had a strength, both literal and figurative, that was a rare and beautiful thing.


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