Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Pakistan-born Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the most revered and prolific Qawwali singer in recording history, took an obscure religious musical form and, with the help of some sympathetic collaborators and promoters, made it commercially and artistically viable in the western world. Born to a family of Muslim devotional musicians, Khan succeeded his father as the leader of their family's singing group (or "party") in 1971. Up through the '80s he stuck to the traditional style of Qawwali singing, bringing his passionate and transcendent music to ever-increasing international audiences--religious and secular alike. By the '90s he began experimenting with pop-music hybrids, garnering the attention of influential fans like Eddie Vedder and Peter Gabriel. In 1997, at the height of his commercial success, Khan died of a heart attack at the age of 48, after a lifetime of health problems.