World Music presents the Boston debut of Sufi vocalist Sanam Marvi on March 26

Sanam Marvi

BOSTON–Celebrity Series of Boston and World Music/CRASHarts will present the Boston debut of Sufi vocalist Sanam Marvi on Sunday, March 26, 2017, at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge, MA.

A gifted singer, Marvi is known as one of the finest singers of Sufi devotional music and Pakistani folk songs. Her work with major Bollywood stars has made her one of the leading voices in India and Pakistan. Whether singing in Urdu, Sindhi, or Saraiki, Marvi aims to reach across generations and cultures to create an awe-inspiring experience, meditative and trance-inducing one moment and then thrillingly ecstatic the next.

Sanam Marvi

Sufism is a mystical part of Islam, and one of the religion’s most important aspects within Muslim life. Seeking truth through the divine love of God, Sufism consists of mystical paths meant to experience divine love and wisdom. Sufi music spread the word of God’s divine love throughout South Asia and cemented its status within the far-reaching religion.

Marvi’s program will be held at 7:30 pm at Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall, Harvard University, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA.  In addition to the concert, Marvi is participating in a number of public activities to help foster cross-cultural dialogue and exchange, March 25-27.

This performance is sponsored in part by Center Stage. Tickets are $48, $37, $32 and $28, and are available online at, by calling CelebrityCharge at (617) 482-6661 Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m., World Music/CRASHarts at (617-) 876-4275 and online at, or at the Sanders Theatre box office, Holyoke Center, 1350 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge.

An in-demand performer too rarely heard outside of émigré circles, Marvi is making her first extended tour to major venues in the U.S. as part of Center Stage Pakistan, a development she welcomes.

“I simply want to spread the beauty of Sufi kalam [poetry] to all corners of the world,” she notes.

Born in 1986, Marvi hails from the small city of Hyderabad, in Sindh. At age seven, she began singing with her father, Faqir Ghulam Rasool, during festivals and ceremonies held at shrines throughout Pakistan’s Sindh and Punjab provinces. While female performers are fairly common at these festivals, Marvi’s voice stood out for its range and clarity. She continued her studies under noted gurus like Ustad Fateh Ali Khan at the Gwailor gharana (school). After making a breakout performance on Pakistan national television in 2009, Marvi has become a rising star across the subcontinent.

Backed by an acoustic ensemble of South Asian instruments, including the sitar, harmonium, tabla, and double-headed dholak drum, Marvi will perform pieces from across Sindh and Punjab, drawing upon centuries-old poetry penned by the saints and sages who lived and made music in the region, whose shrines are still central to the provinces’ cultural and musical lives.

“Sufi poetry and Sufism are about humanity, love, peace,” reflects Marvi. “It’s connecting people beyond all borders and boundaries. You don’t have to come from an Islamic tradition to get it. It’s a message for all human beings to share.”

Singing poetic texts in Urdu, Sindhi, and Saraiki, Marvi transforms songs in the ebullient qawwali and other traditions into fierce clarion calls for tolerance and understanding. Her masterful and revelatory interpretations of the sub-continent’s mystics reach across cultural borders and generations to offer solace in our uncertain and often troubled times.

Marvi’s performances balance immediacy and elegant ornamentation, lending new light to her well-loved South Asian repertoire of sufi, ghazal, qawwali and folk songs. She can urge with sweeping clarion calls or beckon with nuance, with an intense beauty even those less familiar with her mastered genres will feel, as international performances in notable venues like Paris’s Theatre de la Ville, Morocco’s Fes Festival of Sacred Music, and Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum attest.

In addition to the concert, Sanam Marvi is participating in a number of public activities to help foster cross-cultural dialogue and exchange:

Film Screening of Marvi: the Mystic Muse | Saturday, March 25, 4-7pm

Harvard Ed Portal | 224 Western Ave. Allston

Join the Harvard Ed Portal for a free screening of the award-winning film Marvi: The Mystic Muse, exploring singer Sanam Marvi’s search for her own roots across Pakistan and her journey with Sufism. The film will be followed by a post-screening conversation with filmmaker Tanya Panjwani and Dr. Ali Asani, Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures, Harvard University.

Film screening and conversation co-sponsored by Celebrity Series of Boston, Harvard Ed Portal, Harvard Office for the Arts’ Learning From Performers program, Harvard South Asia Institute, World Music/CRASHarts

Conversation on the intersection of culture, journalism, and religion

Monday, March 27, 6-7:30pm

CGIS South, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge

Join Pakistani journalist Madeeha Syed, Marco Werman from Public Radio International’s The World, and Ali S. Asani, Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures at Harvard University, for a conversation on the intersection of culture, journalism, and religion in today’s global environment.

The conversation is cosponsored by the Center Stage program of New England Foundation For The Arts and the Harvard South Asia Institute.

Center Stage is a public diplomacy initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, with support from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Center Stage Pakistan is made possible by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. General management is provided by Lisa Booth Management, Inc.

The Celebrity Series has been bringing the very best performers-from orchestras and chamber ensembles, vocal and piano music, to dance companies, jazz, and more-to Boston’s major concert halls for 78 years. The Celebrity Series of Boston believes in the power of excellence and innovation in the performing arts to enrich life experiences, transform lives and build better communities. Through its education initiatives, the Celebrity Series seeks to build a community of Greater Boston where the performing arts are a valued, lifelong, shared experience-on stages, in schools, at home- everywhere.

World Music/CRASHarts is a nonprofit organization that presents an adventurous mix of global, folk, jazz, and indie music along with contemporary and world dance in a series of concerts, events, and educational programs in greater Boston. It strives to offer audiences an opportunity to share in many different artistic performances and seeks to foster an atmosphere of cultural discovery. For 25 years, World Music/CRASHarts has answered a need for cultural programming in greater Boston that reflects today’s global community.



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