There will never be another Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Don’t believe us? Google it.
The internet giant — which has made a praiseworthy tradition of highlighting the oft-forgotten great minds of the world — marked the musical maestro’s 67th birthday with a doodle.
And while Google honours Khan today, it’s safe to say that the honour is truly all ours to have been blessed with his heavenly voice. The ‘Shahanshah-e-Qawwali’ (King of Kings of Qawwali) was born on October 13, 1948 in Faisalabad, belonging to a family of qawwals whose lineage went back six centuries.
Here is Khan narrating the dream that changed his life: ”My father [the Qawwali singer Ustad Fateh Ali Khan] died in 1964, and ten days later, I dreamed that he came to me and asked me to sing. I said I could not, but he told me to try. He touched my throat, I started to sing, and then I woke up singing. I had dreamed that my first live performance would be at my father’s chilla [funeral ceremony], where we would all sit together again and read prayers from the Holy Quran and so on. On the fortieth day after his death, we held the ceremony, and I performed for the very first time.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
So without further ado, let us pay tribute to the man whose voice transcended all man-made barriers.
“I am a peddler, wandering and roaming from one village to another, in the lanes of cities, in the countries of the world, offering the message of peace, wishing to continue to do so all my life. And after a lifelong wandering when I reach my destination, may the slavery of Allah (SWT), His Prophet (PBUH) and Ali (RA) be the tiara of my head, shining like a star.” – Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
“He used to go and sit by the ocean, and watch it for hours and hours. And one day it occurred to me, that I, as a viewer, am in fact seeing two oceans, for this man himself is an ocean.” – Javed Akhtar
“Nusrat somehow reaches listeners on an emotional and spiritual level that seems to be universal.In his voice I find a kind of direct communication that seldom fails to move me deeply.” – Michael Brook
“If you sat with him and you spoke with him, you felt like you were speaking to a child. He had this attitude and wonderment about everything. He marvelled at everything. If you hit a guitar chord, he would say, ’Play that again,’ and then he would sing out the notes within the guitar chord. So he had this curiosity about the world.” – Salman Ahmed
“These men do not play music, they are music itself.” – Jeff Buckley
“Nusrat is one of the greatest singers of our time. When his singing takes off, his voice embodies soulfulness and spirituality like no other.” – Peter Gabriel
“The place where my voice finishes, Nusrat used to start from that place.” – Sonu Nigam
“There are great singers, and then there are those few voices that transcend time. The late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan could not only transcend time, but also language and religion. There was magic when he opened his mouth, a sense of holy ecstasy that was exciting and emotional. It wasn’t uncommon even for Western listeners, who didn’t understand a word he was singing or follow his Sufi traditions, to be moved to tears upon hearing him.” – Chris Nickson
“His voice was a conduit to heaven.” – Aryn Baker
“I cherish the tradition of classical music more than my life. I consider its protection and preservation as my spiritual duty… I use western musical instruments because I believe that you can dress up a pretty child in any clothes and it will be still pretty. But the more important thing is that the child should not get injured while putting on those clothes.” – Nusrat in an interview with Enzo Gentile, an Australian correspondent