His name may not be well-known, but Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s music can be heard in major motion pictures. Along with his uncle, the world-renowned Pakastani musician Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, the younger Khan contributed to the haunting and lovely Dean Man Walking soundtrack as well as the soundtracks for The Four Feathers and Apocalypto. Khan’s talents and career however, stretch far beyond the confines of Hollywood.
Born in 1974 into a musical family in Faisalabad, Punjab in Pakastan, Khan was trained by his legendary uncle in the art of Pakistani classical music and Qawwali, an ancient form of Sufi devotional music filled with themes of spirituality, mysticism, love, devotion and the longing of man for oneness with the divine.
When Khan was 11 years old, he toured and sang with his uncle and had his first taste of success as a soloist. He has since become an internationally-recognized musical sensation who has performed around the world. In addition to recording dozens of devotional albums of his own and being a highly sought-after Bollywood playback artist (the singer who records the vocals that the actors lip-sync to), he has also collaborated with the likes of Derek Trucks and Michael Brooks. His self-titled U.S. debut album was produced by the extraordinarily talented hit-maker Rick Rubin and was met with world-wide critical acclaim.
For Khan however, the acclaim is secondary to his primary goal of fulfilling his uncle’s dream of bringing Qawwali music to the world. “Qawwali music is not only music, it is a message,” he has stated. “Once you start listening, it goes in your soul, goes in your spirit, and you become more human.”
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan performs at the San Jose State University Event Center on Sunday, April 24.