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  • Hussein Charania

Abi Sampa and Rushil Ranjan - The Heart of Qawwali

Photo by Gaelle Beri

In April of 2020, when covid-19 lockdowns were taking over the planet, communities around the world were attempting to connect via online platforms for the first time. One such, faith-based, community in Canada was releasing a youtube broadcast for all their members - a message to be safe, united, generous to those who need assistance, and to have faith in better days to come. It was decided that this message needed more than just spoken words. I was asked to suggest an artistic expression for the community to see and hear. Something that could be meaningful to the young and old, those who are new to Canada from various backgrounds, and those who are settled. There was one song/video which I knew was it. I found Abi Sampa on IG, and cold messaged her asking for her team's permission to play "Man Kunto Mawla" during the broadcast. To my pleasant surprise, a reply came saying "... Yes of course, as long as it's used for a kind and loving purpose, we would be humbled.." During a time of fear, necessity, and isolation - this song/video gave thousands of people moments of hope, beauty, and unity.

This is the heart of Qawwali - love. This love is accompanied with the talent, passion, and work of Abi Sampa and producer/mastermind Rushil Ranjan. They have surrounded themselves with other great talents such as Amrit Dhuffer, Vidya Patel, Jatinder Kwatra, with musicians from and within orchestras, and many others listed below. The product - the album Orchestral Qawwali and corresponding performances/videos like the ones below, are a feast for the ears for fan of traditional south asian music. For those fans who hold Qawwali in particular dear to them, who turn to Qawwalis during the ups and downs of life - this album opens the page of new beautiful chapter for this beloved art form.

Orchestral Arrangement / Producer: Rushil Ranjan

Singer : Abi Sampa

Tabla: Amrit Singh, Parkash Pal, Janan Sathiendran

Dance Artist: Vidya Patel

Lead Cellist: Lydia Alonso

Conductor: Melvin Tay

Singers: Vibhati Bhatia, Varun Reyaaz, Jatinder Kwatra , Shahid Abbas Khan, Sarthak Kalyani, Yadu Krishnan KShridhar Ramesh

Bass: Samer Sharawi

Harmonium : George Kakas, Jatinder Kwatra

Cover photo by Andy Porter


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