Music Dept. press release
Salman Ahmad, one of South Asia’s most influential cultural figures, will present “Sufi Rock Unplugged,” a rare solo performance, along with his son, Sherjan Ahmad, on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 4 p.m. in Sweeney Auditorium, Sage Hall.
On Monday, Nov. 19, Salman Ahmad will give a talk, with his wife, Samina, on “Rebuilding Pakistan After the Floods,” at 4:30 p.m. in Neilson Library Browing Room.
Both events are free and open to all.
Musician, physician, teacher and United Nations goodwill ambassador, Salman Ahmad popularized a blend of Western rock music and Eastern/Islamic music that has been called “Sufi rock” and that has been hailed as a cultural bridge within South Asia and between the East and West. With his wife, Samina, he launched an NGO called the Salman & Samina Global Wellness Initiative, focused on interfaith and cross-cultural dialogue, global health and wellness, and music education.
Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Ahmad spent his teenage years in New York before returning to Lahore to train as a medical doctor. Turning to his true passion of music, Ahmad founded South Asia’s biggest rock band, Junoon, in 1990. The band faced death threats and harassment from religious extremists and government forces in its early years, but Junoon’s sweeping melodies, bhangra rock rhythms and driving guitars led it to become known as “the U2 of South Asia.” Junoon has sold over 25 million albums worldwide and has shared the stage with artists such as Peter Gabriel, Melissa Etheridge, Ziggy Marley, Alicia Keys, Sting, Earth Wind and Fire, and Wyclef Jean. Jon Pareles of the New York Times has described Junoon as “South Asia’s answer to Santana,” and the Wall Street Journal called Junoon’s eclectic music “a powerful combination of Led Zeppelin and traditional South Asian percussion like tabla and dholak.”
Ahmad has written a memoir for Simon and Schuster titled Rock and Roll Jihad and has written commentaries for the Washington Post’s “On Faith” web site. He is also a member of the Brookings institute’s US-Islamic arts & culture panel for public diplomacy. He is a professor at Queens College (CUNY), where he teaches music and poetry from Muslim culture, and he received an honorary doctorate from the Claremont Graduate University in 2009.