Amjad Sabri: A Distinctive Voice that ruled the Air waves


Qawali is a ‘Devotional music’ blended with the lyrical expressions of the” Sufi Saints” dating back to several centuries.  Therefore, Qawali is considered to be one of the most popular forms of Sufi Music in the Indian subcontinent.  One of the famous names associated with the traditional qawali had been the Sabri brothers descending from one of the four earliest qawal families. The Sabri family had been associated with music since the 17th century. Amjad Sabri has been one of the greatest qawals in the contemporary society. Born on 23rd December, 1976 Amjad Sabri emerged as one of the best qawals in Asia.  He was the only one among his siblings who continued the legacy of qawali and practiced it day and night like his predecessors.  Sabri’s qawali training began at the age of nine from his father Ghulam Farid Sabri and Uncle Maqbool Ahmad Sabri.

Some of the most memorable qawali’s rendered by Ghulam Farid Sabri from the late 1960’s to the mid 1990’s were later performed by his son. He melded his father’s traditional music with modern Sufi music and soon rose to prominence.  According to The News International, Sabri recalled getting up at 4.00 am for Practice as being the toughest part of his early music training. The particular tune (raag) Raag Bhairon was practiced for the most part which is an early morning tune, hence there was no escape from an early start. He had been successful in attracting large audiences globally including the young generation merely because of the amalgamation of conventional and contemporary style.  A few of the many great works of Amjad Sabri include ‘Tajdar-e Haram,’ ‘Bhar Do Jholi’ and ‘Mera Koyi Nahi Teray Siwa.’ He was greatly displeased when the makers of Bollywood film Bajrangi Bhaijan had used ‘Bhar Do Jholi’ in the movie ‘without his permission.’

Amjad Sabri had a huge circle of friends and acquaintances who describe him being a simple and kind-hearted man of friendly disposition. According to Dawn, when Atif Aslam performed Tajdar-e- Haram he was greatly admired by Amjad. He frequently appeared in morning shows, and television channels hence, he indisputably ruled the air waves. The television audiences owing to his frequent television appearances became acquainted with the lighter side of his personality.  He performed in many parts of the world and was appreciated by large crowds for his distinctive voice.  Following the family tradition, his son would often sit beside him during his performances. As stated in Dawn, Sabri was a great cricketer and once had the opportunity to play with the veterans according to a cricket expert, Qamar Ahmad. He made his much anticipated Coke Studio debut in the ninth season of the Show and rendered the qawali “Aj Rang Hai” previously performed by Hadiqa Kiani on the same show.  Amjad, while talking about his collaboration with Rahat, disclosed that his father and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan had performed the same kalam 40 years back. Unfortunately, this was his first and last appearance on Coke Studio as he was gunned down in Karachi a few days later.

Thousands of people gathered around the ambulance carrying his coffin to pay their last homage to the legendry qawal. Sea of faces including women gathered in the Liaqatabad’s main avenue to mourn the death of Amjad sabri who truly was a gem of our society and will be remembered forever as a great Qawal, a true Gem.

Remembering the Incomparable Sabri

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