Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Without doubt the most important qawwal is Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Party -- "Party" is a generic term for a qawwali ensemble but is also used in Sikhism and to describe some classical music ensembles, for example, shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan & Party. Dubbed Shahen-Shah-e-Qawwali (the Brightest Star in Qawwali), he was born on October 13, 1948, in Lyallpur in the Punjab Province of Pakistan. He made his first recording in 1973 in Pakistan and a number of early EMI (Pakistan) albums jointly billed him with his uncle Mubarak Ali Khan. Since these mainly cassette albums were invariably undated and numerous, it is difficult to place them in any more accurate chronological sequence than catalog-number order. Between 1973 and 1993 his recorded output could only be described as prodigious, with more than 50 album releases to his name on numerous Pakistani, British, American, European and Japanese labels. Heavily over-recorded, blighted with a rash of poppy remix albums or albums with Westernized instrumentation or arrangements, his recorded work is a mire to suck in the uninitiated and their money. Converts, however, do not escape scot-free. Although some releases hint at their nature with coded titles such as Volume 4 Punjabi (Oriental Star CD SR013) from 1990 or Ghazals Urdu (Oriental Star CD SR055) from 1992, the chosen language and style is frequently a matter of conjecture or uncertainty. While the Western market is saturated with his work, the Indian market is supersaturated, and his recorded output is in danger of overwhelming any sense of taste.