Ali Hassan

multifacted fusion artist

Ali Hassan is a versatile singer, percussionist, an aspiring ethnomusicologist and a multicultural composer-producer from Karachi, Pakistan. Singing a wide variety of music, from mediative Hindustani Classical chants, to Urdu Ghazals, Arias, Art songs, Jazz, and Progressive-Rock, Ali’s repertoire bridges eastern and western musical sensibilities. His work has received national press coverage in his home country. In addition to being invited for radio and televised interviews, Ali was also nominated for the nationally renowned Pakistani 'Lux Style Awards' in 2019 for his debut single, "Chaaraasaazi." He was also the runner-up for the Kentucky Chapter of NATS singing contest in 2021. He strives to push the envelope, synthesizing seemingly disparate musical, literary and cultural ideas.

Although he has grown up listening to his mother’s “Qawwali” records, Ali’s passion lay dormant until he arrived at Berea College in 2009. There, he uncovered his deep abiding love for music. Touring with the Berea College Concert Choir, Ali witnessed firsthand the profound way in which music moved the audiences, often to tears of joy. Even though he had to return to Pakistan shortly thereafter to tend to familial responsibilities, Ali quietly continued to explore his newfound artistic side, attending open mic nights, researching and self-learning traditional Pakistani music, and becoming a regular feature at the "Jambro" jams that took over the music scene in Karachi in the mid-2010s. Through these timid first forays into self-disclosure, he came to terms with his calling as a musician. All of this culminated in Ali being scouted by Bigfoot Studios, and he ended up releasing three singles with them, presenting modern Urdu poetry with pop-fusion stylings. Wanting to compose verse that spoke forcefully to the zeitgeist, Ali formed a band called 'Aam Taateel' and crowd-funded a progressive-rock/fusion album. The album, titled 'Khudsar,' was released to national acclaim in July 2021.

Bolstered by these successes, Ali returned to Berea in 2021 to finish his education, graduating with a BA in Music with a minor in Mathematics in 2023. At Berea, Ali studied the drumkit, voice, piano and composition, as well as participating in the Contemporary Fusion Ensemble, the Black Music Ensemble, and the Afro-Latin Percussion Ensemble. He has also taken survey courses in Appalachian and World Music, as well as Vocal Pedagogy and Lyric Diction. He released his first solo album , "Tanha," in November 2023. Produced entirely remotely, it was a collaboration with musicians from eleven countries that showcased Ali's entrepreneurial drive as well as his project management capabilities. This album - his most ambitious project to date – takes a daring existential dive into the conflicted inner world of the urban Pakistani male.

Over the course of his studies, Ali has presented research on an eclectic range of topics, from the "tawaifs" of India and Memphis Minnie’s influence on early Blues to women balladeers in Appalachia. His concert review, titled “Appalachian, Twice Removed,” written as part of Berea College’s Celebration of Traditional Music (CTM) Concert Series, was published by the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center in 2022. Having expanded his horizons thus, Ali has come to discover a deep desire to research music in its lived context, and now orients his intellectual efforts towards pursuing further studies in Ethnomusicology. He is particularly keen to study the musics of displaced and dispossessed persons, as well as spiritual and secular musics of the South Asian diaspora in the US.

In his spare time, Ali takes lessons in Hindustani Classical singing from his Guru in India. He also continues to imagine novel settings for Urdu poetry that satisfy his cosmopolitan soul and bring out the subtext hidden within the verse in emotive and intellectually satisfying ways. Among his artistic goals are albums on the poetry of disenfranchised subcultures in Pakistan and India, documentation of the musical idioms and endeavors of first and second generation South Asian immigrants, as well as large scale, polyphonic settings of mystic "Sufi" texts. He is also an avid cat lover and hopes to raise a clowder of Maine Coons in the near future.