A few months back I stumbled upon a Wikipedia article about Ustad Fateh Ali Khan—the patriarch of the Patiala Gharana of the Indo-Pakistani (Hindustani) classical music. After mentioning ‘Fateh Ali Khan does not sing anymore because of bad health’, the entry notes that ‘after Fateh Ali Khan, there is no notable classical music singer left in Pakistan’. A related Wiki article states that Ustad Fateh Ali Khan’s younger brother ‘Ustad Hamid Ali Khan is considered by many to be the last of the great Patiala legends’.
The Wikipedia is factually wrong of course but reading the above was extremely disconcerting—till I walked into a concert in Florida few days ago. The band performing there goes by the name Raga Boyz and comprises of Ustad Hamid Ali Khan’s three sons Nayab Ali Khan, Wali Hamid Ali Khan and Inam Ali Khan and performs fusion music, blending the aesthetics of the traditional Khayal singing with the western beats. Listening to the brothers Nayab, Wali and Inam it was simply impossible to miss the signature voice of the Patiala Gharana—an enthralling blend of sensuous and sweet—coming from all three pairs of vocal cords. The Raga Boyz displayed a range of voice that is the sine qua non of the Patiala tradition with control that is simply outstanding for their young years. It is clear that the legend Ustad Hamid Ali Khan has passed the stylistic baton of the Patiala music—as well as his unassuming manner—to his sons.