Ep. 08 — It Goes Both Ways

Thy will be done. Thy will be done. I don’t know. Please, I don’t know.
— Jessica Ripper

Jessica Ripper is a white American with blonde hair, blue eyes and a home in Northern California. Yet, to many in Pakistan, she’s an Islamic-gospel musician who plays the tabla.

In the 700-year-old Sufi-singing tradition of Qawwali, she’s a female trailblazer shattering century-old glass ceilings from Sufi shrine to Sufi shrine. And everywhere else, she’s a statistical anomaly, a bizarre outlier.

Did fate direct Ripper to her path as one of the world’s only white female western qawwali players? Or was it chance and opportunity?

You be the judge.

Show Notes:

  1. [00:10] “Villager” by Blue Dot Sessions

  2. [02:25] “Villa” by Blue Dot Sessions

  3. [04:40] “Allah Hu” by the Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Party

  4. [06:35] Shahzad Bashir

  5. [06:40] “Snowmelt” by Blue Dot Sessions

  6. [08:35] Fanna-Fi-Allah

    1. Side note: They’re working on a documentary project about qawwali music. See here.

  7. [08:40] On Ripper’s conversion to Islam.

  8. [09:00] “Allah Hu” by Fanna-Fi-Allah

  9. [10:35] “McKrary” by Blue Dot Sessions

  10. [11:20] Richard Michos performing with Shabaz

  11. [13:00] Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

  12. [13:05] “O Re Piya” by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

  13. [13:25] More on Dildar Hussain

  14. [13:25] “Tanam Farsuda Jan Para” by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Party

  15. [13:55] Nusrat’s collaboration with Michael Brook

  16. [13:56] “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel

  17. [14:20] Nusrat’s obituary in The New York Times

  18. [15:10] “Banjo” by Blue Dot Sessions

  19. [16:09] Yassir Chadly

  20. [18:20] “Grand Caravan” by Blue Dot Sessions

  21. [18:20] A neat infographic of what Islam looks like.

  22. [18:25] Additional reading on Sufism and the current state of Islam

  23. [19:00] Some online dialogue about music in Islam

  24. [19:45] Background on 2010 Lahore Bombing

  25. [20:50] Tabla played by Jessica Ripper

  26. [21:45] The Urs of Baba Farid

  27. [21:50] On Baba Farid

  28. [27:15] “3rd Chair” by Blue Dot Sessions

  29. [28:03] “Ya Mustafa” by Fanna-Fi-Allah performed at the Urs of Baba Farid

  30. [30:05] Riffat Sultana

    1. Recommended listening

  31. [30:10] Ustad Salamat Ali Khan

  32. [31:50] “Bliste” by Blue Dot Sessions

  33. [36:00] Abidah Parveen with members of Fanna-Fi-Allah

  34. [39:05] “Illway” by Blue Dot Sessions

  35. [41:40] “Xandre” by Blue Dot Sessions

  36. [43:55] “Holo” by Blue Dot Sessions

  37. The project that started this story:

    1. Written

    2. Video

    3. Download Flipboard on your phone, connect to strong WiFi and open flip.it/tabla in the mobile app for a unique story experience.