Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is a music legend in his own right who is widely regarded as one of the most esteemed classical singers of the current era. Social Diary Magazine caught up with the iconic singer to learn more about his craft.
Give our readers your background and how you embarked on a musical journey? Belonging to a Qawwal family perhaps enabled me to somehow to feel and sense music as a child. I didn’t understand music but I used to feel it.
How was it like growing up in a family of musicians?
It was not easy as being among the likes of my mentor and my father meant having to live up to expectations and perfecting my craft at the same time. Growing up in a musical family was very challenging but it has made me who I am today.
What have you learned from your seniors, especially your uncle, the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan?
To date, all I know is from my mentors, my uncle, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and my father Ustad Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan. This is from the age of six.
Who, in your family, is now emerging as a musician under your wing, just like you were training as a youngster?
My brother and son are both on the same path and are continuing the family’s legacy.
How do you want the music industry to grow in Pakistan?
I feel our music industry is doing well and there are a lot of young and inspiring singers. The future looks great.
Do you feel that the trend of classical music has died down in recent years?
I believe that classical music and classical singers still exist but it is the audience which is not as it used to be. People are more into commercialized, upbeat music. This also has a lot to do with one’s pace of life and that has reflected in classical music.
How has classical music evolved over the years? Any differences you find?
I wouldn’t say it has evolved as such but in some ways it is very much alive. Whenever a song has a classical feel, it usually does well though getting to hear classical music is rare these days.
What do you make of modern music and its infusion with classical music?
I believe every music is good. It is more about the acceptance of it. I have personally worked on combining classical music with current music, and it works.
What needs to be done to ensure that classical music is revered for what it is in Pakistan?
As a classical singer you have to practice constantly and innovate.
Why is it that the international community enjoys your music despite Urdu not being their native language?
Music is something you have to feel and not just understand. Also the raags and alaaps fascinate them as they are not so common to hear.
How can the youth be directed towards classical music in the modern age?
That is something very personal. You are either inclined towards classical music or you aren’t. I am planning to set up a music academy and this idea would very much be a part of it. t.
Where do you get your music inspiration from?
Our gharana and its legacy dates back to 600 years, so first and foremost I seek inspiration from my family’s musical heritage. Otherwise, I am inspired by other musicians and composers.
Give us some insight into your new projects.
I have a very dedicated management that is always creating concepts, be it for live shows or music videos. My job is to deliver what I may be good at, which is singing. I have some interesting videos and songs being released.
How are you managing your gigs as a musician during a pandemic?
Since March, there have not been any shows but things seem to be picking up.
How many hours do you practice a day to keep your vocal range intact?
I am always singing. The only time I don’t sing is when I am sleeping or am on a flight. There is no break for me.
Pakistan or India – the best experience in terms of music?
One is home; the other home is away from home.
Who is your pillar of strength?
Something you regret in life?
Hope that day never comes.
Your best musical gig to date?
Many but Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 2014 in particular.
Which collaboration has been the most rewarding for you as an artist?
All of them in their own way.
Define art in one word.