Bade Fateh Ali Khan

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Bade Fateh Ali Khan
Shamchaurasi village, Hoshiarpur district, Punjab, British India
Died4 January 2017 (aged 82)
Shifa International Hospitals (Shifa College of Medicine), Islamabad, Pakistan
GenresHindustani classical music, Khyal singing
Years active1945–2016

Ustad Bade Fateh Ali Khan (Urdu: اُستاد بڑے فتح علی خان‎; 1935 – 4 January 2017) was amongst the foremost Khyal vocalists in Pakistan, and a leading exponent of the Patiala Gharana (stylistic lineage). He was the younger of the singing duo Amanat Ali and Fateh Ali, who enjoyed immense prestige and success in Pakistan as well as India, until the sudden and unexpected death of Amanat Ali Khan in 1974 (1932–1974).[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Fateh Ali was born in the village Shamchaurasi, Hoshiarpur district in Punjab, British India in 1935.[3][1] Along with his elder brother Amanat Ali, he was trained by their father, Akhtar Hussain Khan, a distinguished vocalist in the patronage of the princely state of Patiala in colonial British India. Their grandfather, Ali Baksh Jarnail, also served the same court. The Patiala Gharana was founded in the mid to the late 19th century by his great-grandfather Mian Kallu who had received classical music training from the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar’s court musician Mir Qutub Bakhsh Tanrus Khan of Delhi gharana of classical musicians.[3][4]


They had a glorious debut in 1945 at Lahore, sponsored by the influential connoisseur, Pandit Jeevanlal Mattoo. Their breakthrough came at the All-Bengal Music Conference in Calcutta in 1949, when Amanat Ali was 27, and Fateh Ali was 14, after which they never looked back.[4]

Amanat Ali – Fateh Ali became celebrities while still in their teens in undivided British India, and achieved their highest official recognition, when the President of Pakistan conferred on them the Pride of Performance Medal in 1969. The "Bade" (elder) prefix got attached to Fateh Ali's name, after younger Pakistani musicians with similar names, started making waves with an entirely different genre of music.

After independence of Pakistan[edit]

Life changed dramatically for the budding stars when India was partitioned in 1947, and the family opted to migrate to Pakistan. Overcoming destitution in their new home, the duo swung back, while still in their teens, to earn their rightful place amongst the foremost vocalists of the subcontinent. Fateh Ali was dealt a devastating blow with the demise of his brother Amanat Ali in 1974. Fateh Ali is reported to have suffered a deep depression for over a year and a half, following which he joined Radio Pakistan as a supervisor.

The two brothers as a duo had neatly divided their singing by specialisation. Amanat Ali Khan had a gifted voice and he embellished his singing in broad sweeps by 'lagao', and blossoming out in the upper register while Fateh Ali engaged in intricacies of the countless 'behlawas' and complex taans, in a much lower and gravelly voice, respectively drawing inspiration from two elders of their gharana, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan.[4]

Fateh Ali was urged to restart his performing career, but would break into tears when first beginning to sing. Bade Fateh Ali Khan eventually overcame this emotional block, and started singing as a duo with his younger brother Hamid Ali Khan, as well his nephews, Asad Amanat Ali Khan (1952–2007) or Amjad Amanat Ali Khan who are both sons of his late brother Amanat Ali Khan. The absence of Amanat Ali made Fateh Ali redevelop and re-align his singing style. He had to fill the void left by Amanat Ali in the middle of his career, which was not an easy thing to do. The void was only partly filled by Amjad Amanat Ali Khan and Asad Amanat Ali Khan, as these two have occupied a relatively junior role in comparison with the almost equal footing that Amanat Ali and Fateh Ali fulfilled as a duo.[5]

Though trained also in the medieval Dhrupad genre, the uncle-nephew duo restricts its repertoire to the modern mainstream genre, Khayal, and the romanticist genres, Thumris, Dadra, and Ghazal. The pair had, since their alliance, performed widely in Europe, North America, the Middle East, and South Asia, and released several recordings.[6] One highly unusual CD released in 1992 on the ECM label is entitled Ragas and Sagas, which is a collaboration with Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek. Fateh Ali has performed all over the world and has many students internationally. One of his favourite students was Deeyah from Norway. She is originally half Afghan and half Pakistani. She was born in Norway. And now she is in UK and have become an Emmy Award winner film maker.

In the latter half of the 20th century, the Patiala style of Khayal vocalism has been represented by two streams of the gharana. One stream, gave the music world the Amanat Ali Khan and Bade Fateh Ali Khan duo. The other stream, through its training of Patiala-Kasur gharana vocalists, produced Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (1903–1968),[4] his brother Barkat Ali Khan (1907–1963), and the former's son, Munawar Ali Khan (1933–1989). With the stylistic distinctiveness and continuity of Khayal gharanas having fallen prey to socio-cultural changes on both sides of the India-Pakistan border, Bade Fateh Ali Khan is the last of the thoroughbred Patiala Gharana vocalists.


On Bade Fateh Ali Khan's death, his younger brother Hamid Ali Khan called him like a father figure for his family and also his teacher who taught him everything he knows about classical music.[1]

His disciple, Ahmad Wali of Afghanistan, had shown such talent at a young age that Ustad bestowed upon Ahmad Wali his own name thus calling him Ahmad Wali Fateh Ali Khan. Ahmad Wali Fateh Ali Khan was born in 1987 and was first taught by his father and other masters (teachers) in the Patiala Gharana made famous by Ustad Mohammad Hussain Sarahang and now Wali Fateh Ali Khan is a popular vocalist in Afghanistan. The famous nohakhawan Haider Rizvi Alhussaini was also a student of the great Bade Fateh Ali Khan.[4] In 2016, he teaches classical music classes at Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) in Islamabad as he has gotten older.[7]

Ustad Fateh Ali Khan's signature vocal style has influenced many singers around the world, including classical vocal prodigy, Shyam Panchmatia, about whom the Ustad said, "we are fortunate that such young talent exists around the world; the future of our music is safe in their hands." Shyam's exposition of Raag Megh from the Patiala Gharana has been featured on the BBC after being performed internationally.

Other notable students include Ustad Amanat Ali Khan's son, Shafqat Amanat Ali, who has brought attention to several compositions penned by Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and his brother by arranging the background score in a popular style.[4]

Death and legacy[edit]

Bade Fateh Ali Khan suffered lung disease in the last week of December 2016. He was admitted to a hospital and died at the age of 82 on 4 January 2017.[1]

In March 2017, a Musical Tribute Event to honor him was held at Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi.[8]

On his death, a major Pakistani English language newspaper commented, "Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, a distinguished classical singer and one of the most celebrated vocalists belonging to the Patiala Gharana of classical music, died in Islamabad on Wednesday. He was 82."[4]

Awards and recognition[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Adnan Lodhi (5 January 2017). "Ustad Fateh Ali Khan dead at 82". The Express Tribune (newspaper). Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  2. ^ No ceremony to remember legendary singer Amanat Ali (singing duo of Amanat Ali and Fateh Ali Khan) The Nation (newspaper), Published 19 September 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2018
  3. ^ a b "Ustads Amanat Ali Khan and Fateh Ali Khan". The Friday Times (newspaper). 30 May 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Peerzada Salman and Shoaib Ahmed (5 January 2017). "Patiala Gharana loses another famous son (obituary of Bade Fateh Ali Khan)". Pakistan: Dawn. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  5. ^ Bade Fateh Ali Khan raga performance on YouTube Retrieved 27 November 2018
  6. ^ Bade Fateh Ali Khan live performance on Pakistan Television (PTV) program 'Nikhar (1974)' on YouTube Uploaded 26 October 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2018
  7. ^ a b Bade Fateh Ali Khan a living legend Dawn (newspaper), published 14 November 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2018
  8. ^ Tribute to Music icon Ustad Fateh Ali Khan at Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi, Arts Council of Pakistan website, Published 2 March 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2018