A Great Loss to the Muslim Art Community


I write this message with a heavy heart.

I can recall his beautiful smile and extraordinary energy in lifting people’s spirits.

He was a performing artist of remarkable calibre.

He was the leader of the Fletcher Valve Drummers, who were first introduced to the Muslim community at MuslimFest 2004.

Dale (Jamaluddin) Marcell, who embraced Islam about 3 years ago, has passed away at his home in Kitchener, ON, last night (Dec. 10, 2008).

He was in his mid-50’s.

The meaning of his Muslim name, Jamaluddin (“Beauty of the Deen”), did not only reflect in the beauty of his personality, but also in the beautiful art he so passionately shared with the world.

Inna Lillahi wa Inna Ilayhi Rajioon (To God we belong and to Him we return). May Allah erase his past mistakes and give him the glad tidings of Paradise, Ameen.

Many of us could recall his public declaration of Shahada (acceptance of Islam) at MuslimFest 2005 as he shared the stage with his drumming companions and Br. Dawud Wharnsby: “I love Islam and I love Muslims!”.

Born and raised on a farm on the St. Lawrence in Iroquois, ON., Dale Marcell, who was of Metis descent, had always been drawn to the use of drumming in Aboriginal cultures for emotional and spiritual healing.

The layers of rhythm and energetic percussions of the Fletcher Valve Drummers brought a new dimension to the live Nasheed / Musical performances in the Muslim community.

Dale and his group were the all-time favourites at MuslimFest and at several major events in the UK, as they shared the stage with renowned Muslim performers.

Hundreds of attendees have enjoyed and learned from their drumming circles, drumming workshops, and live concert performances.

His album, “A Different Drum”, in which he paired up Dawud Wharnsby, is quite popular.

Although he was at times disillusioned by the growing pains of the Muslim entertainment industry and was disappointed by the lack of appreciation of his art in the Muslim community, he always remained optimistic and focused on his service and talent.

The most inspiring aspect of his work was not known to many in the Muslim community.

Dale had a non-stop schedule of workshops in seniors homes, prisons, and shelters for battered women as well as programs for kids with physical and cognitive disabilities.

He loved raising the spirits of people who had lost hope. He had his ways of relating to the lonely and less fortunate with his positive spirit that often baffled qualified social workers in the Greater Toronto Area.

He had a uniDale2que way of doing Dawa to such people.

I remember seeing him in tears once as he narrated his experience with a senior who had not smiled for ten years until he got him to beat the drums.

Several disabled persons began to regain their mobility as they joined these drumming circles. Dale’s spirit of love breathed a new life and hope in so many.

As he once said in a Maclean’s Magazine interview, “I think of myself as a drumming guide — helping people remember the beat they were born with.”

As Dale’s family makes arrangements for his funeral and burial in Kitchener, let us make a sincere Dua for him and his soul.

It’s obvious, despite all the raving fans who surrounded him at the Muslim events, Dale himself was a strong lonely Muslim.

Perhaps the Muslim community could have done more to assist him in his difficult times.

He was always happy about his family’s support for his practice of Islam.

May Allah reward Alim Ali, the host of Radio Dawah, for counselling Dale’s family through the funeral process from Islamic perspective.

May Allah bless Br. Jamaluddin with the highest rank in Jannah, Ameen.

May Allah truly reward him for his social work and for lifting the spirits of people around him, Ameen.

May Allah give his family members fortitude to endure this loss, Ameen.

May Allah inspire a new generation of talented Muslim artists and percussionists like Dale to beautify our gatherings and touch the lives of people, Ameen.