Friday, July 10, 2009

Dawud Wharnsby Ali

Dawud (David) Wharnsby Ali (born June 27, 1972) is a Canadiansinger-songwriter, poet, performer, educator and television personality. He is best known for his pioneering efforts in the musical/poetic genre of English Language nasheed.

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[edit] Early artistic career

Born in Kitchener, Ontario in 1972, David Wharnsby became active in local theatrical productions during his early teens, first performing on a world class theater stage at the age of 18 in a production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" (Annas). Other significant stage work of his late teens included roles in "You're A Good Man Charlie Brown" (Schroeder (Peanuts)) and "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead".

At the age of 19 Wharnsby began performing throughout Southern Ontario as a solo musical artist and as a member of various musical groups. His first professional work as a musician was with folk quartet Crakenthorpe's Teapot, hired to perform on street corners of their hometown. Wharnsby traveled extensively throughout Ontario, England and Scotland during 1993 and 1994 as a solo busker - singing informally on street corners and in parks to market and share his music. In 1993 he started his own independent recording entity, Three Keyed Maple Seeds, which in 1996 was re-named Enter Into Peace and registered with SOCAN as a music publishing entity.

During the early 1990s Wharnsby worked as a professional actor and puppeteer for two different educational theater troupes, touring public schools and folk festivals throughout Ontario. At the age of 20 he played lead in a short educational film "To Catch A Thief", distributed nationally in Canada to schools as part of the John Howard Society's anti-shoplifting program.

[edit] Music

Wharnsby's first musical recording to see independent distribution, was a collection of cover songs entitled Three O'Clock Tea, recorded live in 1991 with the folk quartet Crackenthorpe's Teapot (Wharnsby / Corey Schmidt / Heather Chappell / Bill Kocher).

In 1993, Dawud (David) Wharnsby and fellow Crackenthorpe's Teapot vocalist Heather Chappell began touring and performing as a duo, releasing an independent album (Off To Reap The Corn) containing renditions of traditional Canadian and Irish folk music. The recording also featured Wharnsby's original lyrical adaptation of the traditional song "The Black Velvet Band". His comical version "The Black Velvet Band As Never Before" is still sung in folk music circles.[1]

In 1994 the duo of Wharnsby and Chappell released a second independent recording through the Three Keyed Maple Seeds entity, entitled Fine Flowers In The Valley.

Dawud has released several internationally distributed albums since 1995, including Blue Walls And The Big Sky[2], Vacuous Waxing (with Canadian writer Bill Kocher) and A Different Drum (with The Fletcher Valve Drummers).

In the mid 1990's Dawud rose to international recognition for his pioneering efforts in the genre of English language nasheed (spiritual songs of a folk/world-beat style, drawn from Qur'anic tradition). He has released over 10 popular albums of spiritual nasheed since 1996, including A Whisper of PeaceColors Of Islam (1998), Road To Madinah (1999) and The Prophet's Hands (2002), all released through US based media company Sound Vision.Com. His spiritual songs for children are sung and taught in schools world wide. (1996),

During his career Dawud has collaborated with the likes of Stephen Fearing, Irshad Khan, Danny Thompson, Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens), Chris McKhool, Sami Yusuf and Zain Bhikha.

Wharnsby's songs have also found their way onto the recordings of other notable artists. His popular children's songs "Sing, Children of The World!" and "Al Khaliq" were both covered by Yusuf Islam & Friends on the 2004 CD "I Look I See" and his song "A Whisper of Peace" was included by Canadian children's performer Chris McKhool on the CD "Celebrate!".

Dawud also appears on the 2006 album release by South African artist Zain Bhikha entitled "Allah Knows", performing a cover of "Flowers Are Red" by Harry Chapin along with other duet and backing vocals.

In May of 2007 his 2005 album "Vacuous Waxing" was re-issued internationally with an amended track-listing under the title "The Poets And The Prophet".

September 3, 2007 Dawud released "Out Seeing The Fields" composed of 12 tracks, co-produced with LA based pianist Idris Phillips.[3] The 11th track of the album named "Rachel" is a tribute to Rachel Corrie who was killed by an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Caterpillar D9R armored bulldozer, during an ISM protest against the destruction of Palestinian homes by the IDF in the Gaza Strip. [4]

"Good Morning Sunday", a compilation recording presented by popular singer and radio personality Aled Jones, features Wharnsby's song "The Truth That Lies Inside" (from "Out Seeing The Fields") alongside songs by other notable performers such as Elvis Presley, Beth Neilsen Chapman, Alison Krauss, Kate Rusby, Julie Fowlis, Eric Bibb, Sarah McLachlan, Eva Cassidy, Louis Armstrong, and The Staple Singers. The album was released by Warner Music UK in spring of 2008, featuring material regularly played on the BBC Radio 2 program (also called "Good Morning Sunday") and hosted by Jones.

Dawud Wharnsby was featured as a guest vocalist and lyricist on the 2007 album "Man Ana?" by French singer/songwriter Khalid Belrhouzi.

[edit] Television, video and radio production

As a television personality, Dawud has hosted programs produced in conjunction with Canada's Vision TV, the National Film Board of Canada [5], Al Huda TV (Saudi Arabia) and BBC Scotland.

Most notably, the internationally distributed documentary series "A New Life In A New Land: The Muslim Experience In Canada" (produced in Canada) and the educational children's program "Watch Celebrations: Ramadan" (produced by BBC Scotland) often air on television stations in their respective countries - both programs hosted, and partially scored, by Wharnsby.

Since the mid 1990's, Dawud Wharnsby has been a regular free-lance writer, actor, assistant puppeteer and musical soundtrack producer for video products produced by Chicago based educational media entity Sound Vision.Com (primarily, the globally popular children's video series "Adam's World").

Dawud has also hosted community talk radio programs in both Canada and the USA. In 2004/2005 he was a music director, pre-recorded segment producer/narrator, guest and occasional on-air host with the daily talk-radio program Radioislam, 1450 AM, in Chicago, Illinois.

[edit] Educational efforts

Due to the popularity of Dawud's educational recordings for children, he frequently visits schools world-wide between his larger concert tours. Through music and unique discussion, Dawud's motivational primary and high school level presentations promote tolerance, diversity and social cohesion. Wharnsby has performed at schools in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Egypt, Pakistan, Malaysia and South Africa.

As a social activist, Dawud Wharnsby Ali also lectures internationally at community events and universities, speaking on topics related to social justice, disability awareness, music, spirituality or Qur'anic philosophy, tradition and ideology.

Royalties from many of Dawud's musical recordings feed a private family trust supporting the Al-Imtiaz Foundation and school, located in Abbottabad Pakistan. Other funds raised through Wharnsby's many albums support the Small KindnessYusuf Islam. charity set up by artist and peace activist

In honor of author, screenwriter and lecturer Rod Serling, Wharnsby (inspired as a child by Serlings' work) is also a supporter of the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation and contributor to The Foundation's scholarship fund. The fund is awarded annually to a student of Binghamton High School (in Binghamton, NY) who possesses skills in creative writing.

[edit] Personal life

Married in 2003, Dawud Wharnsby Ali, his wife and their one child reside seasonally in Colorado USA, Abbottabad Pakistan and in Waterloo OntarioCanada, Wharnsby's base for his music publishing entity Enter Into Peace. The couple have also lived in , Damascus Syria (2005) and Cairo Egypt (2006).

Though family ties do exist, Dawud (David) Wharnsby Ali is not to be confused with film editor (and husband of actress Sarah Polley) David Wharnsby, also a native of the Kitchener-Waterloo area.[6] Other notable Canadian talents linked to Dawud Wharnsby-Ali are sports writer Tim Wharnsby and former Canadian hockey player, sports announcer and member of parliament Howie Meeker.

In addition to his full-time work as a professional musician and writer, Wharnsby also operates a private investigation and research agency based in DenverColorado.

[edit] Religious philosophy

Since the early 1990s Dawud Wharnsby has participated in numerous events and contributed overwhelmingly to the development of educational materials aimed at, or produced by, followers of the Qur'an. However, his song-lyrics, lectures and poetry openly challenge and criticize institutions and movements of organized spirituality. These facts, when factored against misinformation about Wharnsby by unofficial biographers and quotes taken out of context from Wharnsby's numerous interviews, have lead to much controversy as to his religious affiliation.

In 1993, David Wharnsby embraced the teachings and philosophy of the Qur'an, changing his name to "Dawud" (Arabic: داوود‎) - the Arabic form of "David" - and adopted the name "Ali" (Arabic: علي‎) ‎to his surname.

Wharnsby makes a strong differentiation between the application of Qur'anic teachings to his life-style and what he perceives as a general misconception that he "converted" from the "religion" of "Christianity" to the "religion" of "Islam" in 1993.

Rejecting the concept of organized religion in his teens, Wharnsby's music, writings, performances and numerous interviews consistently propagate an opinion that the development of spirituality should be intimate, personal and free of institutionalization.[7] Wharnsby's views, however, on the implementation of positive social action (inspired by well-balanced spiritual development) should be collective, non-exclusive and community focussed.

Though his writings and life-style openly reflect his respect of scripture, a belief in God, and implementation of Qur'anic teachings, Wharnsby does not consider himself a "member" of any organization, institution, movement or dogmatic school of thought. Since 2005 Dawud Wharnsby has lectured frequently on his personal spiritual philosophy and Qur'anic interpretation which define "islam" as an Arabic gerund, derived form the Arabic root word for "peace" (describing and implying the action of "willfully surrendering to God" as a means of achieving and establishing peace holistically in one's life). While Wharnsby has, since 1993, consistently stated public testimonies of belief in One Creator and an acceptance of all prophets named in the Qur'an (Shahada), he has also openly criticized the use of the word "islam" as a noun, or the proper name of a religion, organization and dogmatic institution. While he does not shy away from describing himself as a "muslim"[8], he has explicitly maintained, in public forums that his acceptance of the title, or personal use of the word "muslim" in relation to himself, is based upon the literal meaning of the Arabic word "muslim" (which he interprets as: "one who surrenders, submits or enters into peace") and does not signify that he accepts all of what has become associated with those who call themselves "Muslims" or to all of the "traditions" associated with the 7th century prophet Muhammad.

Dawud Wharnsby's support of humanitarian efforts world-wide sees him working regularly with diverse institutions rooted in various traditions and faith communities. In the past, Wharnsby has been affiliated with, or assisted in fund raising efforts for, Red Cross/Red Crescent (Qatar/Pakistan), Islamic ReliefUK), Habitat For Humanity and the Mennonite Central CommitteeIdris Phillips performed at and inaugurated the Anderton Park Children's Center in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (U.S./ (Canada). Often associated with efforts to fight domestic violence and better the circumstances of women and children, on July 16th, 2008 Dawud Wharnsby and fellow musician

[edit] Discography

[edit] Solo work

  • Out Seeing The Fields (Enter Into Peace/Beloved Musika, 2007)
  • The Poets And The Prophet (Enter Into Peace/Beloved Musika, 2007)
  • Vacuous Waxing (Enter Into Peace, 2005)
  • Love Strong - CD Single (Enter Into Peace, 2004)
  • The Prophet's Hands (Sound Vision, 2003)
  • Sunshine, Dust And The Messenger (Sound Vision, 2002)
  • The Letter - Songs Of Struggle And Hope (Enter Into Peace/Sound Vision, 1999)
  • The Road To Madinah (Sound Vision, 1998)
  • The Colours Of Islam (Enter Into Peace/Sound Vision, 1998)
  • A Whisper of Peace (Enter Into Peace/Sound Vision, 1996)
  • Blue Walls And The Big Sky (Enter Into Peace, 1995)

[edit] Collaborative work

  • Aled Jones Presents: Good Morning Sunday (Various Artists) (Warner UK, 2008)
  • Man Ana? (With Khalid Belrhouzi (Jamal Records, 2007)
  • Allah Knows (With Zain Bhikha) (Jamal Records, 2006)
  • I Look I See (With Yusuf Islam) (Jamal Records, 2005)
  • Celebrate! Holidays of The Global Village (With Chris McKhool) (Independent, 2005)
  • Expressions of Faith (Various Artists) (MCB, 2005 - UK Release only)
  • Days of Eid (Various Artists) (Sound Vision, 2004)
  • Salaam (With Irfan Makki) (Sound Vision, 2003)
  • In Praise of The Last Prophet (With Yusuf Islam and Friends) (Jamal Records, 2002)
  • Bismillah (With Yusuf Islam and Friends) (Jamal Records, 2001)
  • Faith (With Zain Bhikha) (Jamal Records, 2001)
  • Light Upon Light (Various Artists) (Sound Vision, 2000)
  • Fine Flowers in The Valley (With Heather Chappell) (Three Keyed Maple Seeds, 1994)
  • Off To Reap The Corn (With Heather Chappell) (Three Keyed Maple Seeds, 1993)

[edit] Narrative work

  • Companions of The Prophet (Sound Vision, 2004)
  • A Simple Guide To Prayer (With Yusuf Islam) (Mountain Of Light, 2001)
  • Timeless Wisdom Volume 1 (Sound Vision, 2001)
  • Timeless Wisdom Volume 2 (Sound Vision, 2001)
  • 40 Hadith (Introduced by Dawud Wharnsby) (Sound Vision, 2000)
  • Gifts of Muhammad (Introduced by Dawud Wharnsby) (Sound Vision, 2000)

[edit] Music videos

  • Midnight (2006)
  • Midnight (short film version) (2006)
  • Allah Knows (with Zain Bhikha) (2006)
  • You Can't Take It With You (With Zain Bhikha) (2006)

[edit] Published work

[edit] Selected television and video appearances

  • As Salamu Alaikum! (Sound Vision, 2005) (Soundtrack and actor/puppeteer)
  • A New Life In A New Land (Milo Productions/University of Saskatoon/NFB, 2004) (Soundtrack and host)[9]
  • BBC Schools - Watch Celebrations: Ramadan And Eid (BBC Scotland, 2003) (Host)
  • Sing, Children of The World (Sound Vision, 2002) (Host)
  • Stories Behind The Songs (Sound Vision, 2002) (Host)
  • Rhythm of Islam (Sound Vision, 2002) (Host)
  • Alif Is For Allah (Sound Vision, 2000) (Soundtrack and actor/puppeteer)
  • The Humble Muslim (Sound Vision, 1999) (Soundtrack and actor/puppeteer)
  • Ramadan Mubarak (Sound Vision, 1998) (Soundtrack and actor/puppeteer)
  • To Catch A Thief (John Howard Society of Canada, 1990) (Actor)

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