23.5 C
Byron Shire
March 3, 2021

Sufi Music for a Surfey Town

Latest News

Soli becalmed in NSW Pro surf series

Local surfer Soli Bailey has finished in second place at the Mad Mex Maroubra Pro World Surf League Qualifying Series event held at Sydney’s Maroubra beach last weekend.

Other News

Tweed Council rejects Casuarina disability viewing platform

Issues of queue jumping, the allocation of Tweed Shire Council’s resources in both time and money, and responding to...

‘The Great Reset’

Gary Opit, Wooyung I appreciated the letter by Lucas Wright (17 February) on the Great Reset conspiracy fantasy. With our...

Mt Warning ban

Chris Gee, Byron Bay Indigenous readers be advised that the following letter contains references to persons deceased. I read with some...

Constitutional referendum/poll for LG elections for Byron Shire?

Is the wards fight back again? Byron Shire Council staff have advised, in the upcoming agenda, that ‘Council may conduct a Constitutional referendum or poll in conjunction with the Local Government Election, to be held in September 2021’.

Senior players triumph at Cherry Street Croquet Club

The experience combination of Joan Campbell (92 years young) and Elaine Astley (89) were able to beat the field and collect a win in the Cherry Streety Twilight Golf Croquet Plate Competition held at Ballina.

Australia’s bastardry

Gareth W R Smith, Byron Bay Australia has a long string of racist and anti-humanitarian policies. These range from its...

Tahir Qawwal at The Byron centre on sat 17th March: Photo by Arterium

This week Spirit Festival bring Tahir Qawwal and Party to the Byron Centre for a night of deep devotion, ecstatic rhythm and mystical poetry. This is something special; it’s not often the Shire gets a taste of Pakistani sufi music culture!

How did you come to learn this very exotic and complex music that is so far from your own culture?

Gosh, it’s a long and loopy tale. Doesn’t feel so exotic and complex now that I’ve been so deep in it for more than 20 years, yet the qawwali genre certainly is a unique expression that inspires one to test the farthest reaches of what the voice can do.

Briefly put, I left home for India at age 16 on the spiritual quest. Travelling throughout the Indian and Tibetan Himalayas for five years I had come a across some epic mystic musicians. After practising mediation in lonely caves for so long, that heartfelt path of singing devotional music really called to me. This journey into the music of the mystics led me to the grand masters of sufi qawwali in Pakistan and they’ve guided my way ever since.

Chris Martin of Coldplay is a fan!  How did he come to know your work?

Well you know he’s a sufi, ya?

Chris and some of his mob came out to one of our concerts in LA a couple of years back. As usual, by the time we had lift off a couple of tracks in, there was a lovely ‘devotional’ moshpit going on. As we were smashing it the singer to my left said, ‘That guy fully throttling it in the pit is Chris Martin from Cold Play!’ Between verses I said, ‘dunno who that is,’ and kept wailing away. After the gig Chris hit me up, since then we’ve been in contact often and have performed with him at his house, recording studio. He’s even part of our qawwali film. And yes, I did later learn that Cold Play is one of the most famous bands of all time.

Why is this particular kind of music so ‘spiritual’?  What do you mean by that?

This music is so bloody spiritual because all emotion, passion, rhythm, melody, skill, improvisation, lyrics and so on are offered unto the Beloved. For sufis, the Beloved is our source and ultimate desire, beyond any one form or belief. The qawwali genre has evolved for a thousand years inside of the sama (spiritual ceremony), so the compositions and lyrics are truly divine. Yet since sacred music transcends explanation, come experience it for yourself.

Your upcoming crowdfunded film will enlighten us about what aspects of your musical world? Where did you film it?

Our upcoming feature film: Qawwali – Music of the Mystics will be debuting in theatres across the planet later this year. We filmed it in Pakistan and India over a period of 15 years. As it is the first comprehensive documentary on the qawwali tradition, the storyline takes viewers with us inside the inner sanctum of the mystical music gatherings to glean a taste of the sound and setting through the big screen. As well as following my group’s journey of discovery, thirty-five of the greatest sufi qawwali masters speak about this culture and perform the best-ever qawwali captured on 4k film. The post-production crowdfunding campaign continues uncompleted on www.gofundme.com/qawwali.

In the Byron concert, what will you be performing – new music, classical pieces, or what?  Do you compose original music in this art form?

As always, the Byron show will feature a tasty repertoire of the most loved and revered classics, freshly offered in the spirit of spontaneity. One of the reasons I love this genre so much is that its form is designed to expand upon, therefore most of what you’ll hear is unrehearsed improvisation wherein the energy of the composition evokes the exploration of impulsive new daring vistas of melody, rhythm and poetry. This renders it impossible to drift away from the absolute presence of prayer.

A wild freedom that I’m sure the Byron community can dig!

Saturday at the Byron Centre | 8pm |Tix are $30 at byroncentre.com.au or at www.tahirqawwal.com

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. For those of us not living in Australia..like the US,..might this film be available on Netflix or Amazon prime, for example?


    Tom Wallace


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Shores United win local derby in season opener

Shores United FC began their season in the Anzac Cup B football competition with a 3-1 win over local rivals the Mullumbimby Brunswick Valley FC last Sunday.

Ballina Dragon Boaters win world championships

Shelley Cornish from Tintenbar has won two gold medals in the world indoor rowing championships as well as a world record time, while husband Paul Hurley chimed in with a silver medal.

Senior players triumph at Cherry Street Croquet Club

The experience combination of Joan Campbell (92 years young) and Elaine Astley (89) were able to beat the field and collect a win in the Cherry Streety Twilight Golf Croquet Plate Competition held at Ballina.

Entertainment in the Byron Shire and beyond for the week beginning 3 March, 2021

Entertainment in the Byron Shire and beyond for the week beginning 3 March, 2021