August 19 2014
He is the nephew of one of the all-time great vocalists, the late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and he continues to build and further enhance both his legacy and his own ever-growing reputation. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan talks about his new album “Back2love” and what playing at Wembley means to him*…
(Question [Q]): Performing live is synonymous with your name – how does it feel to be interacting with your fans in this way?
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan [RFAK]): In fact it is the only aspect of singing I know. Belonging to a family with a legacy of 600 years of music heritage, this is the basic that we are taught, which is to sing live.
Q: You’ve performed at Wembley before – tell us about this forthcoming show and what it holds for the adoring audiences. Are you excited about performing in Wembley?
RFAK: I have travelled the world and I can openly say that SSE Arena Wembley, remains my most famous and liked venue. I have great memories of the concert in 2012 and I am sure it will be even better this year.
Q: UK fans love your voice a lot – is that something special that you will be giving them on this tour?
RFAK: I love my UK fans too…yes, they are in for a real treat as I have segmented my upcoming Wembley Arena concert with TCO and PME to showcase the “back2love” album for the first time.
In fact, it can be labelled as the world premiere of the album live. Then I have adopted a medley of my super hit Bollywood songs, similar to what I did recently at the IFFA awards, then the normal hit Bollywood songs I will be singing, along with the ever green and very popular segment of Qawalis. This upcoming tour will be sheer musical magic!
Q: Wembley and London are two places that are privileged to have you returning. Tell us about how you feel about performing at the legendary Wembley Arena? Especially as you’ve collaborated in the past, with others who’ve performed at the venue, such as Pearl Jam…
RFAK: On the contrary I would say that I am honoured to be loved by Londoners and coming back to Wembley is something I wanted even last year, but my promoters TCO Group wanted to try the 02 and it was an amazing concert as well.
Q: Share with us some details of your band members and how you all work together.
RFAK: I classify them to be my family and a lot of them including my younger brother, Wajahat Ali, cousin Farhat Ali and others who have even performed with my uncle and guru, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan are still there in the group.
Q: Tell us about some of the highlights of this tour, in terms of music – what songs do you feel will resonate with UK audiences the most and will there be some surprises in store? What is the “Back to Love” tour all about?
RAFK: “Back2love” is all about spreading love through and with my music. It is testing times for lot of fellow brothers & sisters and all I want people to do is love each other and get rid of hatred. Life is too beautiful to waste. There are some surprises and are best, if unveiled on the day! I do not want to take away the “surprise” element.
Q: Bollywood and Lollywood have played a big part in your voice reaching the masses, out of the Classical (Qawwali & Ghazal) music realm – tell us about this journey and about any new songs you’ve done for films.
RAFK: Yes, they have been instrumental in my career, especially in the last decade. I have recently done a song with Mahesh Bhat Sahab for one of his upcoming films, one with Sajid-Wajid for a film of Arbaaz Ali Bhai, a duet with Kailash Kher and another half a dozen songs as well and the same in the pipeline.
Q: You have a new album out, and this tour will showcase some songs from it – tell us about this new work and how it came about, and the themes that run through it.
RAFK: It was a thought and perhaps a belief of me and my producer of the “back2love” album. It all happened last year in New York when we thought about it and then dedicated about nine months to it and it is amazing to see the way it has been loved.
In fact one of the songs, “Zaroori Tha” has just had over 12 million views on Youtube and Vevo and labelled as the biggest love song of 2014, so I am over whelmed by the response. I am lucky to have a very good team with me.
Q: Qawwali and Sufi music is very enchanting – you have kept the legacy of this music alive, to the enchantment of fans. How do you see this form of music evolving and continuing to appeal, as you are a pioneer of taking this abroad, as did your eminent Uncle (Ustad Nusrat Ali Fateh Khan). Please share a key memory of your extensive touring with him. Will we see your son also following suit?
RAFK: There are far too many memories to share, but one of them I can never forget, that I was the only one who had to wake up at about 5am (irrespective of what time I went to sleep) to do ‘rihaaz’ (music practice), something at that time I found to be unfair – this rule was only imposed on me, but today and I look up in the sky and thank my Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for putting me through such vigorous training which in fact helps me even today.
My son is showing a lot of promise and interest. The rest is up to him and his destiny, but yes, for sure, it will be a very proud moment if I was able to see my son continue the family legacy.
Q: You’ve been singing since the age of three and have inspired millions with your voice and vocal capabilities – what advice would you give youngsters, who wish to keep this tradition of singing alive, in terms of learning?
RAFK: Only one thing, “hard work”, be it practice, playing concerts, playback, belief and hard work is the formula. I know nothing else in life but just to sing. It is something I love!
Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan returns to the UK for his ‘Back to Love Tour’ 2014 The tour commences with a live concert at The SSE Arena, Wembley in London on Sunday 24th August 2014.
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan was mentored by his uncle, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan since the age of three and is now regarded as the King of Qawwali and Sufi music. His is the glorious voice behind hit songs such as “
He has had award winning hits for films such as “Dabaang”, “My name is Khan”, “Son of Sardar” and many more and a has a string of awards across the globe for his music. In 2013, he was honoured with an outstanding award from the House of Lords for community cohesion.
*This is an edited version of a pooled interview provided by SSE Arena, Wembley and top concert promoters, the TCO group.
Tickets for the Wembley concert http://www.ssearena.co.uk/events/detail/rahat-fateh-ali-khan
He also plays Birmingham, on Bank Holiday Monday (August 25) at the LG Arena; and Leeds on August 30 at the first direct arena with the profits going to the Gaza Emergency Appeal. For details and tickets for these concerts, please see www.rahatuk.com
**”Zaroori Tha” video