Gurmej Raja

About Gurmej Raja

As the lead vocalist of a group of nine performers, Gurmej Raja is a Sufi Qawwal – a devotional singer who sings compositions in praise of the almighty and holy saints to the tunes of Harmonium, the rhythm of the Tabla and clapping. The Qawwali style of music, having originated in 8th century Persia, is conventionally performed at the Sufi shrines and dargahs all across the vast subcontinent now and is the exuberant expression of heightened spiritual ecstasy. Replete with strong secular and sometimes self-indulgent views it is traditionally sung in Urdu. Raja belongs to the Rasulpur village of the Gurdaspur district of Punjab and learned from master Bakhshir Raslpuri and the famed Vadali brothers. With a rustic, open-throated voice he conducts the Qawwali, also known as Mehfil-e-Sama and the backing vocalists adorn the style by repeating the key verses thus bringing about a sense of building up and further imploring the Almighty. This heightening of tempo and passion are physical manifestations of the intangible wish to sever all bonds to perceived reality and lose the self in a rhythm that helps one to be in tune with the cosmos. The crescendos are punctuated with moments comprising of vocal or instrumental acrobatics and/or recital of a verse, that is a character outside the signature rhythm to further accentuate the upsurge toward a cathartic, orgasmic moment of unity with the sublime.