He was the sole torchbearer of the Sabri Brother’s ensemble, after 2011. His performances were enjoyed by audiences in Pakistan and by South Asians in UK, Australia, Canada, and the United States. The son of Ghulam Sabri, Amjad Sabri’s legacy was not solely as the keeper of his father’s name but he was a respected Sufi singer in his own right.
Amjad was the nephew of Maqbool Ahmed Sabri of the Sabri Brothers, my favorite of the two voices that comprised the original Sabri Brothers. After the death of Maqbool and Ghulam Farid Sabri, Amjad Sabri became the head of this famous Pakistani qawwali group.
His father Qawwal Ghulam Farid Sabri
Born in the Punjab town of Kalyana, Ghulam was the son of Inayat Hussain Khan who was also a qawwal. Ghulam migrated to Pakistan in 1947. While trying to establish himself, the family faced many difficulties. To manage his patriarchal responsibility, for some time he became a laborer and worked in construction. Ghulam Sabri had a big family, with 5 sons and 6 daughters. Amjad was the 8th child of Ghulam Sabri.
Amjad Sabri’s Childhood
Born into a prominent qawwali family, his training started early. In school and college, he sang during the annual competitions. Soon he began to accompany his uncle and father on local and national tours. For studies, he was sent to Australia to pursue a career as a chartered accountant. In 1994 after only a couple of semesters at college, he returned to Pakistan because of his father’s passing.
By his own admission, Amjad Sabri was associated with the Gwalior Gharana of Indian classical music.
Early Career as Sufi Singer and Qaawwail
After a couple of years in Pakistan, Ajmaj Sabri began his musical career officially in 1996. He presented his uncle and father’s old qawwali songs with a new treatment. The experiment proved successful, as he received many words of encouragement and praise.
He was married twice, and interestingly both weddings took place within the same month of the same year.
Amjad Farid Sabri was a proponent of Sufi Muslim tradition. He emerged as one of South Asia’s most prominent qawwali singers. He brought forward the old qawwali songs of his uncle and father to the youth. Whether it was his popularity with programming during the month of Ramadan or through his songs on Coke Studio, both the people and the media loved him. The recording of ‘Aaj Rung Hai’ was a collaboration between Amjad Sabri and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. It was released and the attack on Amjad Sabri. It garnered immediate fame and went viral.
He was shot thrice in June 2016 in Karachi (specifically Gharibabad) by MQM for not cooperating in a money-laundering scheme. The killers, Bobby and Capri, were arrested and sentenced to death over the murder of Qawwal Amjad Sabri. The ruthless killing garnered international attention.
Conclusion: Amjad Saheb’s Legacy
This famous Sabri’s murder raises questions related to the terrorism that plagues South Asia. He is one of the most famous Pakistani singers in the world. The police/military was unable to fully protect him.
While the Sufi singer left the world in June 2016, his music and the Sabri legacy continues through his family. In 2018, after his death, A. Sabri was awarded the Pride of Performance, which recognizes the distinguished contributions of Pakistani civilians. And he was awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz.
His oldest son was only 13 at the time of Amjad’s death. Today, he is hoping to match his father and grandfather’s performance caliber. He is seriously practicing their Sufi songs and qawwali music.