The Sabri Brothers

Photo Of The Sabri Brothers

From Pakistan

For 40 years, the Sabri Brothers have been one of the leading lights of qawwali, the mystical, devotional music of Sufi Islam. The group's leader, Haji Ghulam Farid Sabri, died in 1994, but his younger brother Haji Maqbool then took on his mantle. Qawwali's origins date back centuries. It is said that the style was born when a Sufi saint arrived in India to bring Islam to the Hindu people. He realised that the best way to achieve his aim was not through long religious discourses, but through songs that praised Allah. Thus qawwali (the Persian word for "utterance") began. Its rhythmic style, with vocal melodies weaving in and out of long tabla and harmonium-based instrumental sections, is designed to literally entrance an audience, drawing them deep into the heart of the song. The Sabri Brothers come from a long line of qawwali singers that can be traced back to the sixteenth century. Their musical training began at the age of five in India, and when the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947, their family went to Pakistan, joining that huge movement of millions of people between the two countries. Their life then was one of hardship, alleviated by singing with their father and uncle. Eventually, in 1958, when Farid was 33, they formed their own group, quickly winning a huge following in Pakistan through their innovative arrangements of traditional songs and the passion of Farid's voice. The Sabris have appeared at WOMAD events many times in the past decade, and released a CD, 'Ya Habib', in 1991 on our sister label, Real World Records. Along with that other WOMAD regular, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, they have taken this deeply moving style far beyond the borders of Pakistan, adding to the traditions of a powerful, ecstatic sound.

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