Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (b. 1974) is a Pakistani musician, primarily a singer of Qawwali, the devotional music of the Sufis. He is the nephew of the late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. In addition to Qawwali, he also performs ghazals and other light music. He has toured extensively and performed in India, Pakistan and all around the world.
Traditionally, Qawwali has been a family business. Rahat's family has an unbroken tradition of performing Qawwali for more than 600 years. Rahat took over the family Qawwali party after Nusrat's death in 1997. (Nusrat had formally nominated Rahat as his successor during his lifetime).
He was born in 1974 in Faisalabad, Pakistan into a family of traditional musicians. The son of Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat was trained rigorously by his uncle Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in the art of classical music and Qawwali, as Nusrat had no son of his own. An extremely gifted child, he started his musical training at a very early age. In an interview, his father Farrukh has spoken of how Rahat would be receiving musical instruction from Nusrat with a pacifier in his mouth.
Under the tutelage of his uncle, his first public performance was at the age of eleven. He can be seen in numerous videos alongside his father and uncle in recordings from the 1980s and 1990s. His voice is high-pitched, unlike the huskier tenor voice of Nusrat. After two decades of captivating performances for international audiences, Rahat is a star in his own right.
In a subordinate role to his uncle Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (working in collaboration with Eddie Vedder), Rahat contributed to the soundtrack of the 1995 Hollywood film Dead Man Walking. In 2002, he worked on the soundtrack of Four Feathers in collaboration with the American composer of orchestral and film music, James Horner. In the same year he partnered with The Derek Trucks Band on the song "Makki Madni" in the album Joyful Noise. More recently, his vocals were featured on the soundtrack of Mel Gibson's Apocalypto.
Though Rahat is excited to play with Western musicians and lay down tracks in state-of-the-art studios, he is ultimately most concerned with the art of Qawwali and its message. As he states, "Qawwali music is not only music, it is a message. It was created by Sufis, and when we compose and practice this music, it stays forever. Other music comes and goes, but Qawwali never goes. Once you start listening, it goes straight to your soul, goes to your spirit, and you become more human. I feel that this music is my duty, in order to spread the message of Sufism. My future is that one day I will fulfill the desire of Nusrat to give this message to the world". In another interview, Rahat fondly mentioned how his own children have begun to sing, though he hasn't taught them yet. When asked how they have learnt to sing, his children pointed at Nusrat's picture.