I first encountered the magnificent voice of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in a course on Mystical Islam I took last fall. My professor used some concert recordings of his music as examples of modern Sufi devotional music. While I certainly enjoyed the lectures and the use of the music in the classroom context, Nusrat’s music ended up becoming my favorite thing about the class just because of his voice. He sings with such passion, such power, such force…. It was unlike anything I had ever heard. After almost a year of not hearing anything else from Nusrat, I stumbled across one of his records, The Last Prophet, while sifting through a box of old CDs at The Core’s studio.
While a pompous rapper might name a record something like this in an attempt to glorify themselves and make themselves seem important, Nusrat likely titled this record in reference to Muhammad, known as the Seal Of The Prophets (i.e., the final one) to Muslims. My guess is that Nusrat’s song is devotional in nature (unfortunately it’s in Farsi), but the lyrics don’t really matter. Nusrat’s voice has been said to glorify God in all contexts, regardless of lyrical content. He’s one of the only Pakistani musicians to have gained a popular following in America. Believe in God or not, Nusrat’s voice has the power to transfix and mesmerize people of all cultures and creeds. This song was famously rearranged and covered by Derek Trucks on his 2006 album Songlines, which is how the composition stuck out to me in the first place. Check out the song and indulge one of the most , unique voices in the modern musical world.