NEW YORK - Pakistan’s living legend Arif Lohar and other Sufi singers gave an uplifting energising performance at Asia Society’s packed-to-capacity auditorium Friday night that won New York’s hearts.
With his commanding presence on the stage, he connected with the excited audience members who roared their approval with thunderous applause.
Lohar’s performance - preceded by inspiring Sufi and ghazals songs by upcoming artists Arooj Aftab, a Pakistani-American and Fozia, a member of Lohar’s group - was part of ‘Caravanserai: A place where cultures meet’ — a programme that brings traditional Muslim performers to mainstream American audiences to share their artistic heritage and to challenge stereotypes.
But it was Lohar who dominated the two-hour show as audience members of all ages and ethnicities sang and danced with him with remarkable energy. He held complete sway, encouraging the crowd to join him and they responded enthusiastically. Within three minutes of Lohar’s popular song ‘Alif Allah Chambey di Booti’, the space between the front end of the stage and the front row of the audience seating transformed into an energetic dance floor. He sang it for almost 45 minutes straight. The crowd kept dancing, and the band kept the energy going till the end of the night. The show opened with Arooj’s mesmerising voice followed by Fozia’s hit songs before Arif Lohar’s energising performance swept the audience members off their feet.
At the end of the performance, Lohar and his band received a standing ovation and calls for an encore. The band played bhangra, and with it people resumed dancing — some climbing onto the stage and dancing with Lohar. In an interview with The New York Times on Thursday, Lohar said, “All the world over, the language is music. The styles are different, the nuances are different. But the language is the same. I am here representing my country and my culture. I have connected with people, and it feels so good to connect in that way.”