Peace Be Upon You, New York

(Ananda Matthur/Flickr)

Defying the never-ending hot, humid weather, scores of New Yorkers attended the city's first Sufi Music Festival, launched in Union Square on Tuesday evening.

Crowds spilled over to the sidewalks to listen and watch Pakistan's living legend Abida Parveen, described by the BBC as having "a voice so incredible that she could sing a shopping list and have the crowds weeping."

Other noted artists originated from all four provinces of Pakistan, singing and dancing to the sounds of Sufi music and poetry.

The concert was presented by a new organization called Pakistani Peace Builders, which was formed after the attempted bombing in Times Square by a Pakistani-American. The group seeks to counteract negative images of Pakistan by presenting a longtime Pakistani Islamic tradition that preaches love, peace, and tolerance.

Sufism itself has recently been the target of Islamic fundamentalists. Only July 1, suicide bombers attacked Lahore's ever-busy Data Ganj Baksh Sufi Shrine, killing 40 people and injuring hundreds.

For the Pakistani artists who entertained crowds, the music's message was one of joyful devolution and improvisatory freedom.

Abida Parveen will be performing at Asia Society's sold-out event tonight, July 22.

(Ananda Matthur/Flickr)