Thursday, September 26, 2024, 7:30 PM

Street and Davis Performance Hall, Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre

Category A $55 | Category B $40 | Category C $20
$10 students with ID and youth 18 and under
15%-25% subscription discounts available

"[E]very time the members of Riyaaz Qawwali take the stage, they introduce a new audience to the rhythms and melodies of qawwali."

— Montana Public Radio

Singing Together is a qawwali and gospel music collaboration between Houston-based Riyaaz Qawwali and the Harlem Gospel Travelers from New York City.

Used for centuries to spark religious devotion, qawwali or Sufi music features soul-stirring melodies, lively rhythms, and spiritually uplifting lyrics. Riyaaz Qawwali musicians, who are settled in the United States, hail from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, representing multiple religious and spiritual backgrounds.

The Harlem Gospel Travelers draw deeply on the gospel quartet tradition of the ’50s and ’60s, but with a distinctly modern edge that includes dazzling vocal arrangements punctuated with gritty bursts of guitar and crunchy rhythm breaks.

Each group plays individually, then both collaborate, interweaving qawwali and gospel elements into a resoundingly joyous, boundary-crossing evening of praise. 

About Riyaaz Qawwali

Representing the diversity and plurality of South Asia, Riyaaz Qawwali musicians are trained in eastern and western classical music and have been professionally performing qawwali for the past 15 years. With conservative growth and heightened attention to quality, Riyaaz Qawwali has performed across the continental U.S. and in Panama; it debuted in Europe in 2017.

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 these elements with works from famous South Asian poets of multiple linguistic and religious backgrounds to create a universal message of oneness. The ensemble 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 — including Urdu, Punjabi, Persian, Gujarati, and Hindi — to represent the linguistic and cultural diversity that exists in South Asia. 

About the Harlem Gospel Travelers

Things are looking up for the Harlem Gospel Travelers, who have a new album, a new lineup, and a new lease on life. Produced by Eli "Paperboy" Reed, Look Up! marks the group’s first full-length release as a trio, as well as its first collection of totally original material, and it couldn’t have come at a more vital moment. The music still draws deeply on the gospel quartet tradition of the ’50s and ’60s, of course, but there’s a distinctly modern edge to the record, an unmistakable reflection of the tumultuous past few years of pandemic anxiety, political chaos, and social unrest. The songs are bold and resilient, facing down doubt and despair with faith and perseverance, and the performances are explosive and ecstatic.

Born out of a non-profit music education program led by producer Reed, the Harlem Gospel Travelers — singers Thomas Gatling, George Marage, and Dennis Bailey — released their debut LP, He’s on Time, to rave reviews in 2019, with Pop Matters hailing the album’s “musical transcendence” and AllMusic praising it as “dreamlike and joyous.” The record charted on Billboard, earned the Travelers high profile fans like Elton John (who invited them to appear on his Rocket Hour radio show on Apple Music), and landed them festival slots everywhere from Pilgrimage to Telluride Jazz.

This is the first performance by Riyaaz Qawwali and the Harlem Gospel Travelers at the Moss Arts Center.

Photos by Victor Rod, Whitney Pelfey, and Susana Godoy