News Column

'I am here to give my best' ; INTERVIEWRahat Fateh Ali Khan

September 6, 2013


THE late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was one of the greatest singers ever, in any genre. Even if you didn't understand what the legendary qawwali vocalist was saying, the fire and fervour were clear. His nephew, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, is proof that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

There is the same clear, ringing voice with that slight bit of gravel rasping at its edge, just like Nusrat. And Rahat shines at classic qawwali, the Sufi devotional music made famous by his uncle, even as he has achieved additional fame for his lighter, almost easy- listening compositions that merge the vocal styles of a traditional qawwali, set to an atmospheric, almost new age-y background.

He has also brought the house down in India's thriving, immensely popular Bollywood industry, lending his voice to dozens of projects. EG caught up with him before his appearance for Nottingham Mela How does it feel to be the most in-demand Asian live performer in the world? I did not know this was the case, but if this is true I am delighted to hear this. As a person I'm normal and believe in being this way. When you have a mentor like Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, worldly aspects do not intervene in our life. For me it is about soulful music, be it Sufi, qawwali and even my songs in the Bollywood are based on this.

How much does performing live mean to you? Everything. It is my life. I feel I am in paradise when I am singing live, specially in front of the UK audience. They are very special for me.

How much do you enjoy touring the UK? As said before, it is my second home and I cherish every day I stay here.

How do UK audiences compare to those around the world? UK audiences have their own place in my world. Every audience means a lot to me, but the UK audience is surely special.

The number of hit songs you have is growing by the day, how do you select which ones to perform? I don't actually - it is my interaction with the audience and the mood they are in. I go with the flow.

Which songs do you enjoy performing the most? Every song, but the real Rahat is best when I am performing qawwalis as this is what we are as a family.

Even though you are massively successful in Bollywood, how important is it for you to remain connected to qawwalis? Qawalis are our soul and this should answer this question.

Can you tell if a song will be a hit when you record it in a studio? For me every song is a hit, the rest is up to the audience.

How do you cope with the very high expectations? I never think about all this. I only know one thing - give your best.

You have performed all over the world - what have been the most memorable performances? Last year at Wembley Arena to a sell-out audience remains very special for me, and then Las Vegas last year and this year the concert in New York at the Nassau Coliseum was special too.

Musically, what songs are you working on at the moment and which are you most excited about? I am soon releasing an album which I am very excited about. It is with a major label in India. My audience will hear Rahat as never before.

Will you be doing any more television projects? I am already in the process of considering a few concepts presented to me.

Do you have any ambitions away from music? Only music.

What would you change about the music industry? I am not here to change anything, I am here to give my best and always believe in it. Change happens if people want it to happen.

Do you think technology is harming the quality of music and singers? Everything has a positive and negative. Overall I believe technology has helped all of us in many ways. Today I can be anywhere in the world and record my songs and this is only due to the technology.

What advice would you give young singers? Always believe in yourself and practice daily as practice makes one perfect. Never give up and you will make it.

Can you give a message to your fans? Of course. I thank all of you for loving me so much globally and I want all of you to come to my concerts so I can give you something back.

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan performs at the Royal Concert Hall tonight as part of Nottingham's 2013 Mela celebration. Tickets: Pounds 35- Pounds 100.

Book in person at the Royal Concert Hall box office, at or on 0115 989 5555.

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