Sounds of an Empire – The Roots & Power of Qawwali

A multi-disciplinary project by Mustafa Chaudhry in collaboration with Soul City Arts. A ‘work in progress’ piece exploring the heritage of Qawwali and the music of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and its roots within the city of Birmingham.Capturing the essence of a unique sound, as never done before, told through live performance, visually captured stories and the music of an icon that has impacted generations across the globe.

We invite you to this sharing of food, familiar sounds and fond memories.

Taking place at the Soul City Arts ‘Port Hope’ Warehouse in Sparkbrook, Birmingham.

Friday 9th February 2024 at 6:30pm

6.30pm – 8.30pm / Working Progress Theatre show and Food £8

8.30pm – 10pm / Qawwali Performance £5

A special performance by

Student of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Chahat Mahmood Ali Qawwal Group from Faisalabad, Pakistan

About The Artist

Mustafa Chaudhry is an actor and performer who has trained at Rose Bruford College and with the National Youth Theatre. He has extensive experience in Verbatim Theatre, having toured nationally in a lead role in Lung Theatre’s Amnesty Award-winning Play ‘Trojan Horse’. He has performed with companies including Freedom Studios and Omnibus Theatre and recently made his TV Debut on the BBC Show ‘Doctors’.

Soul City Arts has worked with Mustafa Chaudhry on a number of projects. He played a leading role on the Birmingham 2022 commissioned show ‘Waswasa’ . He is a passionate story-teller and Soul City Arts has been proud to have supported Mustafa on his journey. The ‘Sound of Empire’ is his debut theatre show that he is developing which is being hosted at Port Hope.

About The Event

The sharing is intended to share the ideas and story in development, with an audience, during the research and development week. This will give us a chance to see how qawwali music and live performance can merge together and how the story of its heritage and power is received  by an audience. 

The aim is to collect thoughts and responses from the audience which can be used to help further develop the story. This, along with documenting the sharing, will allow for progression into the next stage of the process, in seeking support from theatre companies and Theatre’s.

The Story

The proposed piece will weave together two distinct narratives, each unfolding in parallel. The first storyline will delve into the early 1980s, focusing on the ascendancy of the Birmingham-based record label Oriental Star Agency (OSA). This part of the narrative will illuminate how OSA played a pivotal role in introducing and elevating the renowned Qawwali icon, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, to global prominence.

Simultaneously, the second narrative will shift to the contemporary era, exploring the enduring impact of Qawwali music and its profound influence on individuals today. This storyline will examine the transformative journeys people embark upon when immersed in the music, recounting their initial experiences with Qawwali and the emotional resonance it holds for them. The characters developed in this part of the narrative will discover solace in Qawwali, prompting them to revisit the historic Luxor Cinema, the venue of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s iconic 1980 performance, now transformed into a grassy site. The characters’ quest will revolve around reviving and paying homage to the memories that the site once encapsulated.