Published On: Wed, Apr 6th, 2016

Death anniversary of one of the great Qawwal in the world Haji Ghulam Farid Sabri.


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The Sabri Brothers are a Sufi Qawwali party from Pakistan, closely connected to the Chishti Order. Sometimes, referred to as Roving Ambassadors for Pakistan. Sabri Brothers were originally led by the soaring voices of the late Haji Ghulam Farid Sabri, whose periodic refrain of ‘Allah’ between songs has become a Sabri signature, and his younger brother late Haji Maqbool Ahmed Sabri. They were the first exponents of Qawwali to the West, when they performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1975. Many consider the Sabris instrumentally more adventurous, rougher and more soulful than Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Party, Sabri Brothers has given a number of soulful beautiful Qawwali hits. Their stature in Pakistan is colossal.
Their first recording, released in 1958 under the EMI Pakistan label, was the Urdu Qawwali, Mera Koi Nahin Hai. Their later hits included Tajdaar-E-Haram 1975), O Sharabi Chorde Peena 1976) and Balaghal Ula Be Kamalehi 1977). They were the first exponents of Qawwali to the West, when they performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1975. They again perormed in Carneige Hall in 1978. They played the Womad festival in the UK in 1989 – one of a series of appearances there – and released the album Ya Habib (O Beloved) on Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records label the following year. The Sabri Brothers is the only qawwali troupe which has a “first class” status in the Pakistan Television Corporation. Popular film and recording artists in Pakistan, the Sabri Brothers troupe has toured Europe, Asia and the Middle East. In 1970 the Government of Pakistan sent them to Nepal as representatives for the royal wedding. In 1975 they performed in the United States and Canada under the auspices of The Performing Arts Program of The Asia Society. In June 1981, they performed at the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam. The group is now led by Mehmood Ghaznavi Sabri.
In April 1978, the album Qawwali was recorded in the United States, while the Sabri Brothers were on tour. The New York Times review described the album as, “The Aural Equivalent of Dancing Dervishes” and the, “Music of Feeling.” In 1983 they record album Nazre Shah Karim to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of His Highness Prince Aga Khan,sponsored by Tajico Group. The income of this album was donated to Aga Khan Hospital Karachi. To devote an album entirely to the Persian poetry of Jami, a luminary of the Sufi Tradition, was an ambition he had always cherished. Ghulam Farid Sabri did the recordings of Kalam By Maulana Abdul Rehman Jami in July 1991 at the SFB studios in Berlin, but the CD sadly was not released while he was still alive until in 1995. Thus, ”Jami” becomes a memorial not only to the Persian poet, but also to the Pakistani “Qawwal.” In 1996, they performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival, as part of a double-bill with alt-rockers Corner shop. On 17 November 2001 they performed in DOM at ON THE CARPET Oriental Culture Festival. Several of their qawwalis have featured in films. Mera Koi Nahin Hai appeared in the 1965 film Ishq-e-Habib, Mohabbat Karne Walo in the 1970 film Chand Suraj, Aaye Hain Tere Dar Pe in the 1972 film Ilzam, Bhar Do Johli Meri Ya Muhammad in the 1975 film Bin Badal Barsaat, Teri Nazr-e-Karam in the 1976 film Sachaii, Tajdar-e-Haram in the 1982 film Sahaaray, and Aftab-e-Risalat in the 1977 Indian film Sultan-e-Hind.

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology