Riyaaz Qawwali - about us

Riyaaz Qawwali performs the phenomenal and gripping music style called qawwali, or sufi music. Riyaaz Qawwali represents the diversity and plurality of South Asia. The ensemble’s musicians, who are settled in the United States, hail from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh and represent multiple religious and spiritual backgrounds. Trained in eastern and western classical music, the members have been professionally performing qawwali for the past twelve years. With conservative growth and heightened attention to quality, Riyaaz Qawwali has performed across the continental U.S., in Panama and Europe.

Riyaaz Qawwali’s mission is to expose qawwali to new audiences, while still paying homage to traditional qawwali that has been in existence for 700+ years. The ensemble wants to expand the reach of the genre to new stages and people of other faiths and traditions. The founding members of Riyaaz Qawwali chose the qawwali genre of music because it houses unique musical elements in its repertoire that are not found in any other form of South Asian music. Riyaaz Qawwali combines this with poetry from famous South Asian poets of multiple linguistic and religious backgrounds to create a universal message of oneness (Riyaaz Qawwali incorporates works from poetic giants like Mirza Ghalib, Amir Khusrow, Bulleh Shah, Mir Taqi Mir, Sant Kabir and Guru Nanak, and in doing so, hopes to expose these poets’ works to new audiences and younger generations). Riyaaz Qawwali also uses numerous languages to represent the linguistic and cultural diversity that exists in South Asia. These languages include Urdu, Punjabi, Persian, Gujarati, and Hindi.

Riyaaz Qawwali  2018
Qawwals have long come from Pakistan and India. It will not be long that India and Pakistan will be inviting Riyaaz Qawwali to present qawwali to them.
— Meena Dutt, Houston Radio Host
A luminous star in the qawwali galaxy. Their sincerity, dedication and passion is inspirational. I deliberately include a chapter on Riyaaz Qawwali in my Qawwali and Sufism class’ syllabus.
— Dr. A. Hyder, Asian Studies Professor at UTexas
Select ensemble musicians of Riyaaz Qawwali: 2 percussionists, 2 harmonium players and 4 (of 8) vocalists.

Select ensemble musicians of Riyaaz Qawwali: 2 percussionists, 2 harmonium players and 4 (of 8) vocalists.

[Riyaaz Qawwali] far exceeded my expectations and engaged my audiences like none other professional artists. I have gotten so much great feedback from the back to back shows
— Naren Chawla, New Jersey Radio Host
“...when they started to sing Sufiana Qawwalis it was over whelming. Their devotional renderings brought cheers and applause. If they are performing in your town, don’t miss it!
— Pervaiz Baig, Dallas
Riyaaz Qawwali at University of Chicago