Renowned musician Ustad Hussain Baksh Gullo passes away in Lahore

LAHORE: One of the last surviving greats of the subcontinent’s musical legacy took his final bow on Tuesday morning. Ustad Hussain Baksh Gullo passed away in Lahore leaving the music fraternity with incredible contributions and a timeless love for Eastern classical music. He was 75 years old and is survived by two sons, Suraj and Chand, who are now taking the family legacy forward.

Gullo was a powerhouse of Eastern classical music with his roots going back to both Patiala and Sham Chaurasi gharana, just like his father, the impeccable Ustad Nathu Khan. Gullo in particular was known for his command over Thumri and Kafi and his skill and determination were also rewarded with a Pride of Performance award by the government of Pakistan.

In a career that spanned over five decades, Gullo performed all across the globe with several critically acclaimed albums under his belt. His music and his drive to push the boundaries of classical singing got him respect and veneration from classical music circles on both sides of the border, as well as upcoming singers who always look up to him for inspiration.

Culture curator and founder of Tehzeeb Foundation, Sharif Awan shared that while he was no less than a giant of his field, he was particularly known for singing Multani kafi.

“Ustad Hussain Baksh Gullo was the singer of the singers, who worked tirelessly for his craft,” Sharif Awan Founder of Tehzeeb Foundation said. “He sang every type of classical music including Thumri, Khyal but his popularity was the Multani Kafi. He had a grip on classical music like no other. He knew how to set the right mood during his performance. There’s no doubt that Gullo’s death is a big loss for classical music.”

Known musician Sajjad Tafu called Gullo the most seasoned name in his field before until his passing. “Ustad Hussain Baksh Gullo was one of the pioneers of classical music. At the moment, he was the most seasoned name in the musical world, who contributed monumentally to his art,” said guitarist, Sajjad Tafu. “He was also the brother-in-law of Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, while Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan was his nephew.”

Ghazal singer Tarranum Naz was in awe of how selflessly Gullo served classical music and kept on teaching the art of singing till he physically could. “Hussain Baksh Gullo was the reason for our domination in the field of classical music,” she stated. “He spent almost his whole life in the service of classical music and struggled tremendously to earn respect for the art at an international level. He was like a teacher for all singers who wanted to learn from his work; he was an institution. A splendid era of classical music has come to an end after his passing away.”

Veteran composer and actor Arshad Mehmood felt that despite having the sweetest of all voices amongst classical musicians, Gullo never got the respect he deserved. “Hussain Buksh Gullu was a big singer of this era and as compared to other classical singers his voice was the sweetest and ideal for classical singing. We can also say that no one can sing a kafi as beautifully as he did,” Mehmood said. “Despite his efforts for the promotion of classical music, this country did not give him the respect and regard he truly deserved, but the musicians and singing fraternity will forever be in his debt.”

Caretaker Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murtaza Solangi expressed deep grief and sorrow over the demise of Ustad Hussain Baksh Gullo. The Lahore Arts Council is set to host a solemn tribute session in memory of Gullo. This gathering will serve as a reflective platform to celebrate the remarkable artistry and indelible legacy of the late artist. As a mark of profound respect for the late maestro, classes at Alhamra Academy of Performing Arts were cancelled on Tuesday.

Expressing heartfelt grief over the departure of Ustad Hussain Bakhsh Gullo, Executive Director Alhamra, Tariq Mehmood Chaudhry shared that his enduring association with Alhamra Academy of Performing Arts became a beacon for numerous aspiring artists, enriching their musical journeys. Alhamra remains steadfast in its commitment to perpetuating and advancing the extraordinary musical legacy left by Ustad Hussain Bakhsh.

In a 2017 interview, Gullo expressed his disappointment regarding the future of classical music within the country. “Years ago, classical music dominated the industry but it seems like that domination is now coming to an end,” Gullo stated. “Although there is a lot of talent and many classical singers present in Pakistan, they lack opportunities. It seems like no one is ready to talk about or consider the challenges we are presently facing.”

The singer then went on to speak about the lack of motivation within the country’s youngsters. “However, no one has the passion to learn anymore. Everyone just wants to become a star in a matter of days and of course, that can’t happen. I don’t know what happened to ustad-shaagird tradition,” Gullo had lamented.

With Ustad Hussain Baksh Gullo’s passing it seems like there will be no one to guard the forte he watched over like a lone warrior. Gullo is no more and the tradition he once represented is taking its final breaths.

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