Dale Marcell's departure: A great loss to the Muslim art community

Dec. 12, 2008

I write this tribute with a heavy heart.

I can recall his sparkling 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, in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Brother Dale (Jamaluddin) Marcell, who embraced Islam about 3 years ago, has passed away at his home in Kitchener, ON, on December 11th, 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 Dawud Wharnsby: "I love Islam and I love Muslims!".

Born and raised on a farm on the St. Lawrence in Iroquois, Ontario, Dale Marcell, who was of Aboriginal descent, always had a special interest in 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 stage in the Muslim community.

Dale and his group were the all-time favourites at MuslimFest in Canada and at several major events in the UK, as they shared the stage with renowned Muslim performers, including Dawud Wharnsby Ali, Native Deen, 786, and Ashiqe Rasul.

You may watch two of his live performaces at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3GKx-IDW6Q

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8KWexu1pKg

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

His first and only album after he embraced Islam,"A Different Drum", was produced by Sound Vision.In this album, Dawud Wharnsby Ali joined forces with the Fletcher Valve Drummers for a unique and totally new style of Islamic songs.

Although Dale 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 ceaseless schedule of drumming circles and workshops in prisons, seniors homes,and shelters for battered women as well as programs for kids with physical and cognitive disabilities in public schools.

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 GTA. He had a unique 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 therapeutic drumming circles. Dale's spirit of love breathed a new life and hope in so many.

He described his mission 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 beloved wife Chris and his two dear children, Nate and Kattie, deal with this tragedy, let us make a sincere Dua (prayers) for him, his soul, and his family.

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

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.

May Allah bless Br. Jamaluddin with the highest rank in Jannah (Paradise), 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.

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