2011 New Pioneers Awards - Waleed Abdulhamid (Arts Award)
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Uploaded on Mar 22, 2011
What better way to achieve success than to share with others? Waleed Abdulhamid -instrumentalist, composer, vocalist, producer, film maker, and an active member of the Toronto music scene since his arrival in Canada in 1992 -- has been able to give back to the community through his music.
Born in Sudan in 1968, Waleed began performing at the age of six, when he appeared on a weekly children's television show and on radio in Sudan. Many percussionists across the country emulated Waleed's unique percussion style, which introduced traditional rhythms into popular music. After leaving Sudan at age 18, Waleed performed, recorded and toured extensively across Europe.
When Waleed first arrived in Canada, he took various odd jobs to make ends meet. By day, he would deliver food to restaurants by bicycle and in the evenings and on weekends he would busk (at Harbourfront in the summer and in subway stations in the winter). He found other musicians to busk with him but didn't get a real break until the director of the Harbourfront World Music Festival came out to where his group were playing on the street and asked them to fill in for a band that hadn't shown up for their gig.
Waleed is known for his instrumental expertise, striking vocals, innovative bass technique and speed and precision on percussion. His music has been featured on CBC, the Discovery Channel and the History Channel. He is hailed as "one of the most talented and exciting musicians working in Toronto today."
Waleed feels that the relationships he has developed with artists in the community are among his greatest achievements. He has performed with the Motown legend the Drifters as well as Toronto artists like July Black, David Clayton-Thomas, Zaki Ibrahim, found collaborators in the jazz and world music genres and played with numerous bands.
His work includes producing music, creating scores for film and television, teaching at colleges and universities, and making documentary films. He has been nominated for a Juno Award, won three Toronto African Music Awards, and been recognized at film festivals in Canada and the US.
In 2009, Waleed became a Resident Artist at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, collaborating with 11 other artists from different performing arts disciplines to explore different musical fusions, finding commonalities between childhood songs from different cultures.
Community involvement is important to Waleed, who believes in using his music to support causes such as Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross, OXFAM, UNICEF, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
He has also scored and produced the documentary film, "Let's Find A Way," which has raised funds to help children affected by the HIV virus all over the world. The film won various awards including the Award of Excellence from the Canada International film Festival, Columbia Gorge International Festival, Mexico International Film Festival and Nashville Int. Film Festival.
Despite his success, Waleed continues to live in Parkdale and teaches in priority neighbourhoods such as Jane and Finch and Lawrence Heights. At the Young Centre, he sits on the Community Outreach committee and is currently working on the creation of a non-auditioned, multi-ethnic, community choir aimed particularly at reaching out to those who do not always have access to this kind of artistic opportunity.
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