Thursday, January 25, 2007

My article: Nusrat's legacy lives on

My article on Nusrat Fateh Ali's tribute event is copied below. Many of you may not know who Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is, but back in South Asia, he is a legend, who unfortunately, passed away in 1997. He was a musical genius and was a real trailblazer and pioneer when it came to fusion music. He's worked with Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam) and Peter Gabriel among many other artists.

Nusrat’s legacy lives on

As I rediscover the roots of my Pakistani heritage, I try to fathom what it was those ancient sufis from the Middle East and South Asia wanted to tell us. Their stories are compelling, but how could they have survived centuries of warfare, of a history not written by them, but which they shaped so skillfully? It is in these moments that Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and his qawwalis come to mind, taking me to another world. Unfortunately, God also took Nusrat from us to another world 10 years ago: 2007 marks Nusrat’s 10th death anniversary.

Pakistanis have a penchant for celebrating the lives of those who they hold in high esteem, and tributes to musical legends have been quite the norm these past few years, especially since Noor Jehan’s passing away in 2000. But it is especially unique and heart-warming to see non-Pakistanis, especially those who reside in the West, not only pay him respect but do so because of the inspiration his music and voice provided.

I have mentioned Brooklyn Qawwali Party (BQP) numerous times in this column space, but this time around, it is someone else I am going to be praising: Fabian Alsultany of GlobeSonic Entertainment. GlobeSonic Entertainment is a full-service international music organisation heavily involved in producing shows, festivals and artist relations and consists of Fabian along with a powerhouse of talent in the form of Bill Bragin, director of Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre, and photojournalist/yoga instructor, Derek Beres.

Fabian’s bio is impressive to say the least. His experiences have taken him all over the world and have helped nurture in him a respect not only for diversity, but also for bridging the gaps he saw in cultures. Coming from a Hispanic and Arab background meant that Fabian was already accustomed to bridging these gaps, but it took Nusrat’s music for him to steer in a very different direction professionally and musically.

I spoke to Fabian briefly before an event he and his other colleagues at GlobeSonic organised to commemorate Nusrat’s 10th death anniversary. BQP and another ghazal maestro, Vishal Vaid, were set to transport the audience into another world, and I wanted to talk to Fabian personally about what his motivation and vision was for this and other similar endeavours.

“Nusrat changed my life,” says Fabian. He was tired of seeing the negative images of the Muslim world splashed on TV screens all over the world and saw Nusrat’s music as a way of bridging the great divide between the Western and Muslim worlds. He saw that Pakistan in particular, and the Muslim community in general, was getting such negative press, which needed to be countered. What better way than through music?

GlobeSonic Entertainment hopes this is the first of many such endeavours all over North America. Qawwali and ghazal music has rarely been witnessed and experienced outside of cities and states where South Asians are present in large numbers like New York, Chicago and the Bay Area/California, but with this endeavour, and the success it enjoyed in its first night in New York, the future is indeed bright. The message needs to be passed on, especially in times where Muslims are vilified for believing in the same things their Christian and Jewish brethren believe in.

Nusrat may have passed away a decade ago, but as is clearly visible, his musical genius continues to inspire musicians all over the world. The audience at the concert that night consisted mostly of South Asians, but there were enough non-South Asians present for me to rest assured that his legacy was clearly not only for us; others should know about the cultural bridge he built, which Fabian and his colleagues are now helping others to cross as well. The king has died, but he has left behind several vicegerents. And boy, are they making him proud!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

NY event: FROM PINOCHET TO RUMSFELD: Accountability of US Officials for Torture - 1/25


Please Join CCR this Thursday, January 25, for an event at the New York Society for Ethical Culture co-sponsored by The Nation,

FROM PINOCHET TO RUMSFELD: Accountability of US Officials for Torture.

In the wake of CCR's groundbreaking filing of war crimes charges against Donald Rumsfeld, this program aims to examine different strategies for holding international officials accountable for their actions. The program will explore the devastating effects of torture techniques employed by the U.S. Government, and will include original video interviews from torture survivors such as CCR client Maher Arar, and French journalist Henri Alleg.

Featured speakers include:

Janis Karpinski
Former US Commanding Officer at Abu Ghraib prison, Iraq

Vincent Warren
Executive Director, Center for Constitutional Rights

Scott Horton
Chair, International Law Committee, NY Bar Association


7-9 PM at the NY Society for Ethical Culture Auditorium
2 West 64th Street at Central Park West
New York, NY

Subway: 1 to 66th and Broadway; A/B/C/D to Columbus Circle

Free and open to the public

For more information, please visit our website at

Make a donation to help CCR fight for justice.

See a calendar of events.