A 26-year-old man named Wali Fateh Ali Khan has reawakened the interest of the Afghan people – and the world – in the classical music tradition of Afghanistan. Videos of his songs and concert performances can be seen worldwide on YouTube.
During the years from 1994 to 2002, musical performances were forbidden by the Taliban. Fortunately, the family of Wali Fateh Ali Khan moved to Pakistan in 1987 – the year that he was born. His elder brother Muhammad Yousuf spotted the talent in Ahmad Wali – the second youngest of five brothers – and encouraged him to learn classical music through professional education.
Wali Fateh Ali Khan began his professional education in classical music in 1996. At the age of seven, he was first taught by Sayed Muhibullah Hashimi, a well-known musician of Afghanistan.
Unlike other singers in Afghanistan who learn music from the chemistry of a family background, Wali Fateh Ali Khan is a solo artist. He officially started learning classical music from the distinguished Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, the living legend of Patiala Gharana, who has called Wali Fateh Ali Khan as "his most talented disciple" who "has shown immense talent at such a young age." He has bestowed upon Ahmad Wali his own name thus calling him " Wali Fateh Ali Khan".
Wali Fateh Ali Khan made his professional debut in the Rampur Sahaswan Gharana style under the direction of the eminent vocalist Ustad Rashid Khan of India. His first public performance came at the age of nine, singing the famous Gojri Todi Raga at his outstanding debut in 1999, performing in a widely-attended show in Islamabad, Pakistan.
He began his solo career in 1999. In that year he was rewarded as the "Youngest Artist" by LOK VIRSA- Focus on youth in Creativity in the National Youth Arts & Crafts Festival in Islamabad, Pakistan. Later in 2001 he was honored as the "Prodigious Classical Vocalist" by Pakistan National Council of Arts in Islamabad, Pakistan.
He achieved his highest official recognition in 2002 when his family returned to their home town of Kabul after the overthrow of the Taliban. In that year and he performed his first concert in Kabul in the opening ceremony of Afghan Media & Cultural Center. Latter, Wali Fateh Ali Khan was invited to the presidential palace where he received the "Medal of Success" from the "Father of the Nation" King Muhammad Zahir Shah.
He earned his rightful place in Afghanistan's classical singing tradition between 2002 and 2011, recognized as the most successful classical vocalist in the country. In 2005, the Sofi Group of Chashtia in Herat Province conferred Wali Fateh Ali Khan with the honorific nickname of "Afghanistan's Singing Star".
Wali Fateh Ali Khan is considered by many to be one of the greatest Ghazal signers in the modern age of classical music in Afghanistan. In 2010 and 2012 he was honoured by Ariana Afghanistan TV annual award show with the award of Best Ghazal and Classical Vocalist. Some of his other achievements include certificates from the Ministry of Information & Culture of Afghanistan and the French Institute in Kabul . In 2013, his song “Q” which contributes to the cause of eliminating violence against women in the country, was awarded by the UN Women Afghanistan.
Unlike any other classical singers in the classical tradition of Afghanistan, he won several awards at an early age. He is noted for his ability to sing songs of different moods and varieties which range from classical songs to Raga and Ghazal. Today people of Afghanistan recognize him as the singing voice of Muhammad Hussain Saraahang, the "Father of Classical Singing” in Afghanistan.
An indulgent warm-hearted man, Wali Fateh Ali Khan re-introduced the Patiala Gharana and the Rampur Sahaswan Gharana in Afghanistan. His distinctive sound and style has influenced all classical singing in the country. Through stage and video performances, he has sung more than twenty songs to date. His music videos include those of classical songs he performed at his concerts, and an album entitled "Golden Morning" and released in 2000, which was followed by another one in 2010 named “Colour of Love”. His classical album includes the most famous masterpieces of Raga in Afghanistan.
As today's most-respected classical singer and song creator, Wali Fateh Ali Khan is one of the few artists to have created his own category of music, harmonizing the modern style of singing with a combination of diverse elements of Patiala Gharana and Rampur Sahaswan Gharana.
Wali Fateh Ali Khan is primarily noted for his songs in Raga and Ghazal, over which he has a strong command. He is able to play and sing more than forty five Raga masterpieces. Up to date, he created more than fifty songs in various of styles of Ghazal, Thomry, and Raga. He is influenced in Raga by Ustad Rashid Khan of India while also drawing inspiration from Ustad Muhammad Hussain Saraahang of Afghanistan, from Bade Fateh Ali Khan of Pakistan, and from Ustad Amir Khan and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan of India.
After two decades of intense musical practice, which has shaped his professional education and is equal to Master of Arts, he is to be considered as a versatile singer and music player who can render many songs and musical instruments with ease. He plays reed musical instruments such as the Harmonium, membranophone musical instruments such as the Tabla, and lute instruments including the Tanpura and the Surmandar. He sings in Dari and Pashto as well as in Urdu, one of the popular local languages in India and Pakistan.
Consequent to constant requests by several existed academic institutes in Afghanistan Wali Fateh Ali Khan joined the Fine Arts Faculty of Kabul University as a lecturer in 2013. He also has been part of jury panel of Afghan Star TV Show from 2012.
He has performed, widely in several European and Asian countries including Germany, France, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. His talents and his contributions to classical music have made him a well-known and respected figure outside his own country in a short span of time.
Wali Fateh Ali Khan’s dream is to promote and enhance the classical music of Afghanistan."