Arsalan Rabbani and Kaifi Khalil electrify Livermore Theater audience

Desis from the San Francisco Bay Area came to the Livermore Bankhead Theater to listen to two vocalists from Pakistan who are slowly making a name for themselves here in North America. On Friday, August 18, two relatively unknown performers – the versatile Arsalan Rabbani and young sensation Kaifi Khalil rocked the Bankhead Theater in Livermore with outstanding performances.

Rabbani and Khalil launched their upward career trajectories at the Coke Studio in Pakistan. The YouTube broadcasts helped them develop an ardent fan following in India, Bangladesh, and across the South Asia diaspora.

A man sings into a mike
Arsalan Rabbani sings a ballad (image courtesy: OnF Photography)

Arsalan Rabbabi showcases versatility

Rabbani began on piano with Wohi Khuda Hai, a soulful ballad originally by the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and performed 14 more songs by artists such as Arjit Singh, Rafi Sahib, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Sajjad Ali, Arif Lohar, Abida Parveen and Atif Aslam. Rabbani has mainly worked as a backup or collaborating musician, playing music with well-known artists such as Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar, Junoon’s Salman Ahmad, Sajjad Ali, Ali Haider, Humaira Channa, and Fareeda Khanum among others.

He ended his performance with Tajdar-e-Haram, a Qawwali made famous by two generations of the Sabri clan and reproduced with great success by Atif Aslam. His entertaining performance had the audience joining in enthusiastically.

Kaifi Khalil emerges as exciting new talent

From humble beginnings in Karachi, Kaifi Khalil, one of the latest sensations to emerge out of Coke Studio, is fast becoming a sought-after artist. Kaifi first caught attention with his Balochi vocal delivery (Rap) of a song called Kana Yaari (Coke Studio, Season 14) – a collaboration with Eva B and Abdul Wahab Bugti that garnered over a million views on YouTube. Then came the superhit romantic Urdu language ballad Kahani Suno 2.0, a collaboration with superstar Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, that sealed his success. 

Khalil’s performance, singing solo and playing guitar, was well worth the wait.

The concert was organized by Hasan Shaikh of CNY Desi Entertainment, Houston-based Rehan Siddiqui, and media partner HUM TV Network. Shahab Siddiqui, who was also involved in marketing the concert, is promoting an Atif Aslam show in Oakland on November 3rd  along with Instant Karma and CNY Desi. Sohab Mushtaq and young Daanish Shaikh emceed the event.