Ali, Dawud Wharnsby

Posted Oct 5, 2005      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version Bookmark and Share

Folk, jazz, rock, world-beat, classical, country: musical genres that have been defined and consistently evolving for decades. Many talented artists interpret, arrange and blend these genres with their unique styles. Few though, are able to claim being pioneers in charting a completely new musical market. Dawud Wharnsby, however, is one such artist.

A third generation Canadian with Scottish and English roots, Dawud Wharnsby’s recordings and reputation have established him as an institution in the realm of English language Nasheed (spiritual songs of a world-beat/folk style, drawn from Islamic cultural and musical roots). In true folk-song tradition, his writings have taken on a life of their own - spreading far beyond official marketing territories by way of a bootleg industry which circulates his recordings unofficially and uncontrollably throughout the world. Though distribution of Wharnsby’s material is difficult to gage, his efforts have spawned an artistic movement and musical industry of young artists hailing from Los Angeles, London, Jakarta and all stops in between.

A traveler, writer, troubadour and multi-instrumentalist, Dawud (David) Wharnsby first emerged onto the North American folk music scene in 1991. His debut solo recording “Blue Walls and The Big Sky (1995), firmly established his skills not only as a crafty lyricist, but also as a powerful vocalist, capable of drawing listeners into his world like a vibrant stage actor or an intimate storyteller.

Merging the Celtic/folk styles of his upbringing with sounds and embellishments of the Middle and Far East, his 1996 CD “A Whisper Of PeaceԔ was followed by a string of internationally recognized recordings including, “Road To Madinah (1999), “Sunshine, Dust and The MessengerԔ (2001) and “The Prophet’s Hands (2002) - all released through the US based label Sound Vision. Wharnsby’s unique lyrical style, warm voice and knack for penning catchy melodies yield a rich reception from his listeners world-wide, who in many cases do not even speak English as their first language.

Several of Wharnsby’s latest recordings feature collaborations with the likes of UK based artist, producer and peace activist Yusuf Islam (formerly CAT STEVENS) South African songwriter Zain Bhikha, Canadian percussion ensemble The Fletcher Valve Drummers, and award winning producer/songwriter Zuriani (KEB’MO’, BRENDA RUSSELL, MELISSA MANCHESTER). His newest CD, ԓVacuous Waxing brings together a unique mix of featured artists, including Canadian songwriter Bill Kocher, UK bass legend Danny Thompson (PENTANGLE, NICK DRAKE, EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL, DONOVAN, RICHARD THOMPSON, ERIC CLAPTON), Canadian folk icon Stephen Fearing (BLACKIE & THE RODEO KINGS, SARAH McLACHLAN) and world renown sitar master Irshad Khan.

Dawud served as an executive member of the creative team behind educational multimedia entity Sound Vision for 7 years. He now oversees his own world-music label Enter Into Peace, scouting for new, talented and “down-to-earth” artists to join him on his quest of “Bridging nations and tribes through education and the arts”. Frequently assisting with television and video production, Wharnsby has scored or personally hosted programs produced with the support of Canada’s Vision TV, the National Film Board of Canada, CBC, and BBC Scotland. As a respected and vibrant solo musical performer, social activist and motivational speaker, he travels extensively throughout the world and often lectures at schools and universities - addressing gatherings of all ages with his inspirational talks and diverse educational programs for children. Though his performance venues have included TorontoԒs prestigious Living Arts Centre, and London Englands famed Royal Albert Hall, Dawud (who got his start humbly busking on cold street corners of small Canadian and Scottish towns) maintains a love of simplicity - never straying far from opportunities to share his music informally with intimate audiences.

When not on tour, Dawud Wharnsby divides his home life between Colorado, (USA), Ontario (Canada) and Damascus (Syria).