Pioneering World Music Percussionist Adel Awad dies in Vancouver

Vancouver (BC), Canada – Lache Cercel and the Roma Swing Ensemble informed about the passing of Adel Awad, who died Sunday May 7, in the morning, from cardiac arrest.
 Adel was one of the pioneers of world music in Vancouver. Together with André Thibault, he created the “tapas circuit” in clubs and restaurants like Santos Tapas and the Latin Quarter. Those legendary evenings filled with music, dance, food, and unbridled joy, helped to make world music, and especially Arabic and Middle Eastern music, an integral part of the Vancouver scene.

Adel arrived in North America in the early 80’s and built a reputation as a master percussionist in New York City, before moving to Vancouver. He collaborated with such diverse world music artists as Alpha Yaya Diallo, Celso Machado, Sal Ferreras, Pepe Danza, and Oscar Nieto and Rosario Ancer and the Jewish music quintet “Tzimmes”. He was an integral member of the Roma Swing Ensemble for several years.

Born in Cairo, Egypt, Adel grew up hearing the haunting calls to prayer and the percussion rhythms integral to the celebrations and ceremonies of Arabic culture. His father, who was also a musician and music programmer for Radio Cairo, encouraged Adel to start playing at an early age. By the time Adel was in high school he had earned a reputation as a fine percussionist. He graduated from the prestigious Higher Institute for Arabic Music in Cairo.

Adel was a master of the Egyptian darbuka (Arabic hand drum), riqq (tambourine) and duff ( a tambourine without cymbals) as well as Afro-Latin bongos, congas, and jembe. His unique style and dexterity in using each finger individually, gave him great rhythmic power and nuance.

In his professional lifetime, Adel championed world music in all its aspects and was a true cultural ambassador – one who bridged the gap between communities.

"But for us, Adel was more than a great artist. He was a musical and spiritual inspiration whose sheer presence brought joy to all who worked with him. He was a friend, a brother, a humanitarian, and despite severe health problems in recent years, he showered us with his kindness, his humor, and his indefatigable spirit. He will be sorely missed by the entire world music community," said Lache Cercel and the Roma Swing Ensemble.

Details of a memorial service and concert for Adel will be announced later this month.