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Nusrat Was My Elvis

To mark the 10th anniversary of Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s death, journalist and film-maker Navid Akhtar examines the legacy of this musical megastar whose haunting voice enraptured millions across the globe and who successfully collaborated with countless top Western musicians.

It was American singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley who, in 1993, described Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as “his Elvis”. In this programme, Akhtar looks at how this musician of an art form distinctive to Northern India and Pakistan became a global superstar in his own right and the most famous artist to emerge from the sub-continent since Ravi Shankar.

Akhtar examines the impact Nusrat had on Asian culture in the UK and on the global music scene of the Eighties and Nineties. He tracks Nusrat’s path from a long line of Qawwali musicians who sang devotional love songs at the shrines of the Sufi priests, to the voice on soundtracks of films directed by the likes of Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone and Tim Robbins.

And, through Akhtar’s personal story, listeners learn how Nusrat’s music enabled a young Pakistani teenager to connect to his own cultural background.

Contributors include Nitin Sawhney, Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan and Peter Gabriel.

Listen on BBC Radio 4 – Tuesday 21 August – 13.30 – 14.00.

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