A third generation Canadian with Scottish and British roots, Dawud (David) Wharnsby-Ali was born and raised in Southern, Ontario. Hints that his creative side was stronger than his will to apply himself academically surfaced early during Wharnsby's school years, where he spent long hours writing stories and drawing cartoons which were not part of class curriculum.
Determined not to lose his love for expression as he grew into his teens, Whansby transferred his child-hood loves of drawing and role-playing into the areas of photography and the dramatic arts. As his theatre, music, and writing experience became more and more refined, interest in his own spirituality and purpose in life also intensified. A headstrong teenager, who always chose to `wing it' on high school exams, Wharnsby became increasingly focused on personal studies of diverse scriptures and holy books. At 18, following his shaky graduation from High School, Wharnsby's true personal quest for education, direction and artistic freedom began.
Independently minded and somewhat introverted, Wharnsby spent extended nights writing, listening to music, and absorbing books of Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist literature. Gradually his spiritual identity developed and matured alongside his craft of composing poetry and song. Within a year, Wharnsby taught himself to play a variety of musical instruments and blended his introspective lyrics with his simple yet distinctive voice. He soon began to network with other young Canadian musicians and songwriters, performing at intimate clubs, coffeehouses, universities, and folk festivals.
In 1991 Wharnsby began to devoted himself to a diverse array of activities, working as a puppeteer and children's educator, a traveling troubadour and a personal health care assistant for the physically disabled. His zeal for travel and exploration often found him spontaneously taking extended hikes, walking for days, weeks and sometimes months through parts of Canada, the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Fascinated with birth, death, faith, the occult and his Celtic roots, Wharnsby's songs and writings became a reflection of his continued interest in eastern philosophy and spirituality.
Strongly recognizable musical and theological influences found their way into his experimental expressions. The diversity of musical artists such as Jane Sibbery, Laura Nyro, Cat Stevens, Phil Ochs, Natalie Merchant and Pete Townshend were all evident in his musical ramblings, while concepts from the Tao-Te Ching, the Qur'an, the Bhagavad-Gita and the Dhammapada provided subtle foundations to his lyrics and poetry.
Individually, and as part of a musical folk duo with vocalist Heather Chappell, Wharnsby participated in the production and limited release of several recordings. In 1992 he created an independent label, distributing a collection of traditional acoustic songs ("Off To Reap The Corn"), as well as a book of original sketches and poetry entitled "Field Tromping". Social gatherings, performances and expectations quickly increased. Often frustrated by bouts of extreme stage-fright and generally uncomfortable in crowds, Wharnsby was torn between the competitive nature of the music circles he had stumbled into, and his private quest for peace and contentment.
After three years of intensive music, theater, travel and personal study, Dawud participating in the production of "Fine Flowers In The Valley" (1994) with Chappell, then suspended his musical involvement to focus more seriously on the education of children and efforts to increase his knowledge of Islamic spirituality. Inspired by the experience of a pilgrimage to the ancient Arabian cities of Mecca and Medinah in 1995, Dawud began to experiment with new styles of music - merging the Celtic/folk styles of his upbringing with sounds and embellishments of the Middle East.
In 1996 he recorded and released "A Whisper Of Peace", a collection of motivational and educational songs for children, which was followed closely by a second recording entitled "The Colours Of Islam" (1998). Built upon simple a capella voices, with lyrics drawing directly from Qur'anic concepts and sayings of the 6th century prophet Muhammad - Alayhi Salaam, Wharnsby-Ali's new recordings combine elements of his past musical influences with his love of children, nature and continued spiritual development.
In 1998 Wharnsby-Ali joined Chicago based multimedia organization Sound Vision.Com as an educational consultant and full-time audio director, assisting in the production of over 15 documentaries and children's programs since that time. Other internationally recognized audio works by Wharnsby-Ali include "Road To Madinah" (1999), "The Letter - Songs Of Struggle And Hope" (1999) and "Sunshine, Dust and The Messenger" (2001). Distribution of Wharnsby-Ali's most recent material is difficult to gage. 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 - with extensive radio air play in parts of Africa and the Far East.
In recent years, Wharnsby-Ali has expanded his efforts in the areas of multi-media by networking with other artists around the world, encouraging youth to exercise their spirituality and creativity through the arts. The recently released "Light Upon Light" compilation (produced by Wharnsby-Ali last year) introduces the talents of vibrant young artists from across North America, including Canadian writers Irfan Makki and Shireen Patel, among others. Several of Wharnsby-Ali's up-coming releases feature long-awaited collaborative works with the likes of Yusuf Islam, Zain Bhikha and U.K. based vocal group Shaam.
Wharnsby-Ali currently resides in Canada, where in addition to his work with Sound Vision.Com, he also oversees an Islamic Information Service, directing several study groups and youth discussion circles in Southern Ontario. Wharnsby-Ali travels extensively throughout the world and, although he still shuns public concerts and live performances of his songs, he is frequently called upon to address gatherings of all ages with his motivational lectures and social activism.