Salamat Ali Khan

Salamat Ali Khan Pakistani Classical Singers

 Salamat Ali Khan

Born in 1934, in the heartland of Punjab at Shamchaurasi, district Hoshiarpur, Ustad Salamat Ali Khan belonged to a family of traditional musicians representing the Shamchaurasi gharana. It is claimed that the gharana was founded in the 16th century by Mian Chand Khan and Mian Suraj Khan who were contemporaries of Mian Tansen at the court of Mughal emperor Akbar.
Prior to the emergence of Ustad Nazakat Ali Khan and Ustad Salamat Ali Khan as exponents of khayal, the gharana specialised in the dhrupad form of singing and was particularly renowned for its tradition of duet performances known as jugalbandi. Mian Karim Bukhsh Majzoob, Ustad Ahmed Ali Khan, Ustad Niaz Hussain Shami, and Salamat Ali Khan’s father Ustad Vilayat Ali Khan were some of the illustrious members of the Shamchaurasi gharana.

Salamat Ali Khan and Nazakat Ali Khan were two brothers from Pakistan who challenged and inspired each other to great vocal heights in a stirring duet form usually heard in Indian music.Nazakat died before Salamat who has gone on to record as a soloist.

Salamat Ali Khan was initiated into classical music together with his elder brother Nazakat Ali Khan under the able guidance of their father Ustad Vilayat Ali Khan at the tender ages of five and seven respectively. They were initially taught the basis of dhrupad but later concentrated on learning khayal due to its increasing popularity. It was only after two years of training that they made their debut at the prestigious Harballabh Mela in 1941. They performed raag Mian ki Todi and were highly appreciated by both the audience and musicians present, these included Ustad Abdul Aziz Khan, Pandit Krishanrao Shankar, Pandit Omkarnath Thakur, Ustad Umeed Ali Khan, Ustad Tawakkal Hussain Khan, Ustad Malang Khan and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Ustad Salamat Ali Khan recalled the performance in his autobiography; “we were so small that we had to be lifted onto the stage”.

Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, the most prominent figure of the Shaam Chaurasi Gharana, situated in Pakistan. The singing tradition goes back to the times when the ruler was Hazrat Daata Shajlaal Shah, who was a contemporary to Akbar. The family has always had a tradidion of singing in duos which is evident by the family tree of Shaam Chaurasi Gharana published in various archives. Ustad Salamat Ali Khan & Ustad Nazakat Ali Khan were put into the formal training at very tender ages of 7 and 5 respectively. And it is of no surprise that Ustad Salamat Ali Khan gave his first public performance when he was around the age of 7-8. The duo made their debut at the greatest festival of Hindustani Music, that is, the Harballabh Mela in 1941. In his autobiography, Ustad Salamat Ali Khan says, “We were so small, we had to be lifted onto the stage.” But of course, after the performance a learned audience of Harballabh Mela and the great masters of music sitting right in front of the duo were left stirred when they performed Raag Miyan Ki Todi. During this period, the brothers began to give regular broadcasts from All India Radio, Lahore and two gramophone records of the young Salamat Ali Khan were published. In 1943, the duo received their first official state invitation from the Maharaja of Champanagar, a small princely state in Bihar. Their stay in Champanagar lasted a few months and was followed by performances at the Allahabad and Gwalior music conferences.
After the creation of Pakistan:-

After the creation of Pakistan, the family settled in Multan and lived in relative obscurity for the next couple of years, which brings me to the next point. The two masters were also adept at the Hindustani Light Classical forms of music such as Thumri, Dadra and especially Kaafi. It is not usually seen that a performed of such hardcore Indian Vocals is also an expert of such light forms of music. But, they both were tremendously skilled at performing the Thumris and Dadras, in their own style. Basically, Thumri and Dadra are the vocal styles of Eastern States of India, mainly Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. But later on these were made popular by Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan in the Pubjab region and then by Ustad Salamat Ali Khan & Ustad Nazakat Ali Khan. These two had a very different style of rendering the light forms. They were the maestros of a form called Kaafi, which involves lyrics from Sufi Saints. As they settled in Multan, the had an influence of the local singing and called it Multani Kaafi. No one ever sang Multani Kaafi better than them. Ishq Anookhari Peer, Sau Sau Sool Andar De, one of the broadcasts on PTV of Pakistan.

Ustad Nazakat Ali Khan, without whom Ustad Salamat Ali Khan was incomplete. Ustad Nazakat Ali Khan was an expert in backing the thunderous and often overpowering performances of Ustad Salamat Ali Khan. But Ustad Nazakat Ali Khan never did try to fight for identity. But nevertheless, due to rifts between the two brothers they, for a few years, stopped performing together. But, indeed they got back, soon after which Ustad Nazakat Ali Khan died. Ustad Salamat Ali Khan now performed with the son of Ustad Nazakat Ali Khan in various overseas concerts, leaving the world audience spellbound by thunderous performances of his favorite raagas like Miyan Ki Malhar, Darbari, Gujari Todi and so on. Ustad Salamat Ali Khan has also got the credit for creating various raagas of his own such as Madh Kauns, Shamwati, Thames, Nandeshwari, Milan Gandhar, Kanwal Bhairav and more. He composed several bandishes under the pen name ‘Manarang’.

The death of Ustad Salamat Ali Khan on 11th July 2001 marked the end of a glorious career spanning over six decades.

Salamat Ali Khan, one of the foremost classical singers from the punjab, and his sons (Sharafat Ali Khan, Shafqat Ali Khan – vocals & Harmonium) represent a musical dynasty that extends back to court musicians of the 16th century. Their music is charaterised by both rhythmic verve and variety, on one hand, and on the other by a deep, soulful lyricism combined with a pronounced taste for elaborate ornamentation. Besides being one of the subcontinent’s leading vocalists, Khansahib is also a prolific composer.

Salamat Ali Khan Pictures

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