Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Punjabi: نصرت فتح علی خان (October 13, 1948 – August 16, 1997) a world-renowned Pakistani musician, was primarily a singer of Qawwali, the devotional music of the Sufis. Considered one of the greatest singers ever recorded, he possessed a six-octave vocal range and could perform at a high level of intensity for several hours. Extending the 600-year old Qawwali tradition of his family, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is widely credited with introducing Sufi music to international audiences. He was popularly known as Shahenshah-e-Qawwali.
Alexandra A. Seno of Asiaweek wrote:
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s voice was otherworldly. For 25 years, his mystical songs transfixed millions. It was not long enough …. He performed qawali, which means wise or philosophical utterance, as nobody else of his generation did. His vocal range, talent for improvisation and sheer intensity were unsurpassed.
Jeff Buckley cited Nusrat as a major influence, saying of him “He’s my Elvis”, and performing the first few minutes of Nusrat’s hit “Yeh Jo Halka Halka Suroor Hai” (including vocals) at live concerts. Many other artists have also cited Nusrat as an influence, such as A.R. Rahman, Sheila Chandra, and Alim Qasimov.
Paul Williams picked a concert performance by Nusrat for inclusion in his 2000 book “The 20th Century’s Greatest Hits: a ‘top-40’ list”, in which he devotes a chapter each to what he considers the top 40 artistic achievements of the 20th century in any field (including art, movies, music, fiction, non-fiction, science-fiction).