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With influences ranging from Zakir Hussain to Jimi Hendrix and dance music he (Richard Michos) brings an open Western sensibility to the band’s sound adding the colors and textures of electronic beats, dance, rock and ambient music to create a heady irresistible mix. As the Ali Khan Band, Shabaz (which translates as ‘Chief Eagle’) recorded two albums for City of Tribes. Their 1998 debut Tawsir appeared at the top of the CMJ New World Music chart and Zindagi (Urdu for ‘Life’) their follow-up disc reached similar heights in 2000. (Source)


Michos brought the studio expertise, and his rock guitar background, to a disc that blended dancefloor-programmed beats and samples with rock music and vocals that ranged from Indian classical to qawwali to some that moved beyond easy classification, adding rapping, pedal steel guitar, and even a didgeridu to the mix. The album was successful, rising on world music charts, and the band opened for such major stars as King Sunny Ade and Femi Kuti. (Source)

Live Concert

Based in the San Francisco area, they continued to work and shape their sound polishing and refining pushing their unique talents across more musical boundaries from the rhythmic richness of Bhangra, to the experimentation of Chela, where club beats frame intoxicating passionate vocals. They had their unique vision of a true world fusion where continents and histories come together in the music of the dance. (Source)



Qalanderi, another Sufi track features the sensuous vocals of Riffat Sultana. “Qalanderi” is a luminous example of what Cheb i Sabbah does best: taking a valuable artefact and with great care and joy reinventing it for a contemporary audience. This trippy and slow-burning qawwali takes off into the stratosphere and brings to mind the fervent dances of whirling dervishes.  (Source)


This is club music, fuelled by hypnotic rhythms, brisk beats, and textures as adventurous as the voices they accompany. (Source)

Microphone Close-Up

Riffat Sultana is the first woman from her family’s musical lineage to publicly perform in the west. Riffat’s stunning vocals have been recorded for numerous labels including Ark 21 / Universal, Triloka / Mercury, Hearts of Space, City of Tribes, 6 Degrees and XDot25. She performs a wide variety of traditional and modern materials from Pakistan and India, including Sufi, Geet, Ghazal, Filmi, Qawwali, and Light Classical. Her performances include devotional and ecstatic Pakistani Sufi songs. (Source)


Formerly the Ali Khan Band, Shabaz are actually part of an eleven-generation continuum: the brother and sister duo at the heart of the band are the children of the great classical singer Salamat Ali Khan. Sukhawat and Riffat joined with Riffat's husband Richard Michos, a guitarist and producer, to use their classical training in new settings. The resulting fusion of jazz, Hindustani classical, rock and electronica has caught the ears of luminaries like DJ Cheb I Sabbah, among others. (Source)

"Riffat Sultana represents the unique vision of a true world fusion where continents and histories come together in the music."

Riffat Sultana Bio

Riffat Sultana (born Riffat Salamat) is a musician and singer from Pakistan, who was the first female member of her family to perform in public. She has been always performing live on stage at international events, music festivals, universities and embassies, cultural events as well as on national radio broadcasts and on international television programs and has recorded albums for several international music labels and collaborated with musicians like Quincy JonesCheb I SabbahBen HarperDhroeh NankhoeCheb KhaledZakir HussainJanaka SelektaGirishPeter Scatturo.


She co-founded the Sufi fusion band Shabaz in 1994, which was based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Riffat has grown to become a confident composer and performer, she wrote more than half the material on Shabaz album. In August 2001 they released their eponymous new debut, which featured a pair of tracks, "Raga" and "Queenie's Jam," which were recorded in May of the year, when they were invited by label head Miles Copeland and Mondo Melodia to take part in a recording week at Chateau Marat in France.


She is currently performing under her own name Riffat Sultana. As she tours widely and records under her own name, Riffat is making her family, her country, and her ancestors proud, and bringing a truly spectacular voice and talent to the world stage.




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