Ikhlaq Hussain's roots in the Delhi Gharana (school) of classical music date back eight centuries to the legendry Sufi Saint Hazrat Amir Khusrao, the creator of the sitar and tabla in the early 13th century. While the Delhi Gharana is known for its prolific work in the field of tabla, rhythmic expression and composition, Ikhlaq's grandfather Ustad Ahmadi Khan was the first in the lineage to play the sarangi. Ikhlaq's father, the eminent late Ustad Imdad Hussain, devoted his musical life to playing the sitar. He was recommended for UNESCO's "National Living Treasure" for his life work in keeping the tradition of classical music and the Delhi Gharana alive in Pakistan. Ikhlaq's immediate family was relocated to Pakistan after the partition in 1947 and currently resides in Karachi. Ustad Imdad Hussain has been recognized for his musical achievement in his lifetime by his government, as he was employed with Pakistan Radio (the stalwart of cultural preservation and dissemination) from the age of 16 until retirement, and was sent around the world as an ambassador of Pakistani culture and art. While he has trained numerous students, including his son Ikhlaq Hussain and his grandson Turab Ali, rigorously, there is still a part of the musical lineage that may be lost from one generation to the next, and a type of inevitable modification of style as time goes by and culture changes and "modernizes." Ustad Imdad Hussain's knowledge of the ancient system of music, which was originally valued equally for its alchemist as aesthetic properties, is possibly unparalleled by any living artists in Pakistan.
Ikhlaq's rigorous musical education was acquired from his father Ustad Imdad Hussain and subsequently from the sitar maestro Ustad Kabir Khan. Seeking out an expanded perspective of classical music, Ikhlaq proceeded on a scholarship from the Government of India to study with the renowned Pandit Ravi Shankar in New Delhi India in 1991. His expressive playing has enthralled audiences in India, Pakistan, the Middle East, Europe, Canada and the United States.
Ikhlaq's deeply spiritual music is played in the "Gayaki" style, emulating the human voice and passionately conveying the human soul's yearning for the divine
Ikhlaq's personal mission is to promote South Asian classical music through teaching and performing. He believes that preserving and transferring his rich musical tradition and heritage will help to create and maintain peace at home and in the world. He was awarded permanent residency status in US on the basis of being an outstanding artist of international status. Since 2001, he has been residing in New York City.
In November 2014, he complete the prestigious Artist–in-Residence at the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA) at Shangri La, housed in the former estate of Doris Duke in Honolulu, Hawaii. During the Residency he performed at the Honolulu Museum of Art and at Playhouse Shangri La.
He had two sold out solo performances at the Rubin Museum of Art in January 2015 and January 2016. His second CD Destiny was released there in 2015.
In August 2015, he performed as part of the Heritage Sunday at the Lincoln Center OutofDoors organized by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance. In June 2016, Ikhlaq performed at the Harlem Arts Festival.
On September 11th 2016, Ikhlaq Hussain performed at the Storm King Art Center as part of Masters of Indian Music series presented by the World Music Institute.
In November 4th, he gave the first ever sitar recital at the Harvard Club in New York City. It was the first time that Harvard Club’s Programming Committee decided to invite a non Western instrumentalist for a concert. His outstanding concert organized by LearnQuest Music Conference, Baithak series in Framingham, MA was a great success.
On May 6th 2017, at the Asia Society’s Lahore Literary Festival, Ikhlaq was part of the session on Notes from the Raga with renowned Dr. Azra Raza and Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee for an interspersing music performance and discussion. Ikhlaq was invited back for a solo performance to the Rubin Museum of Art for May 19th 2017.
A preview of his solo performance can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjTLFBH06Jw His CDs "Destiny" and "Perfume of God" can be accessed from ITunes (only downloadable music) and CDbaby (CD and downloadable music).