Salman Ahmad is a musician, teacher, physician, UN goodwill ambassador and one of South Asia’s most influential cultural figures. Born in Lahore, Ahmad spent his teenage years in New York before returning to Pakistan to train as a medical doctor. He then turned to his true passion and in 1990, founded South Asia's biggest rock band - Junoon. Over the years, he popularized ‘Sufi Rock’, a blend of Western rock and Islamic music that has been hailed within South Asia as a cultural bridge between the East and West.
The band has sold over 25 million albums worldwide and shared the stage with renowned artists such as Sting, Alicia Keys, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Wyclef Jean. It frequently faced death threats and harassment from religious extremists in its early years, but Junoon’s sweeping melodies, bhangra rock rhythms and driving guitars eventually made it the U2 of South Asia. The New York Times has described Junoon as ‘South Asia's answer to Santana’ and Wall Street Journal called Junoon's eclectic music, ‘a powerful combination of Led Zeppelin and traditional South Asian percussion’.
Ahmad co-wrote songs with Academy award winning artist Melissa Etheridge called ‘Ring The Bells’. He also recorded ‘Open Your Eyes’ with Peter Gabriel and the 2011 UN Humanitarian day song, ‘If I Could Change’ with Ziggy Marley & Sweet Rush. He did the first ever rock performance at the UN General Assembly Hall in 2001, performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in Oslo in 2007 and the first rock concert in the Kashmir valley, defying death threats from militants, in 2008.
He has written a memoir for Simon and Schuster titled Rock and Roll Jihad. Ahmad is also a member of the Brookings Institution's US-Islamic Arts & Culture panel for public diplomacy. He has appeared on major television networks such as CNN, FOX, ABC, NBC etc and has been the subject of two documentary films: ‘The Rockstar and The Mullahs’ and ‘It’s My Country Too’ for PBS and BBC. He is currently a Professor at Queens College, where he teaches music and poetry in muslim culture. He received an honorary doctorate from the Claremont Graduate University in 2009.More...