ABOUT AL QAHWA
The group name Al Qahwa is Arabic for “the coffee house”. It was inspired by the coffee house culture in the Middle East where people would go to hear the latest news, music, poetry and stories. The repertoire began with traditional songs from Syria, Egypt and Iraq. In 2018, the group started adding original repertoire by members of the band and made their second recording “Cairo Moon”. In 2020, “African Routes”, inspired by the music of North Africa, was released.
Al Qahwa’s new recording “Weyn Allah” adds Waleed Abdulhamid (bass, vocals) and Lauren Barnett (sax, b.up vocals) to the core group. It was made with support from The Toronto Arts Council and The Ontario Arts Council. It was released in June 2023 followed by a Canadian tour with the 6 piece ensemble, adding Roula Said (dance, percussion and back up vocals).
Al Qahwa is on the ballot for the Grammy Awards for best folk album for our latest recording “Weyn Allah” and was nominated at the FMO Music Awards for the 2023 ACTRA RACS Award for Best Recording Artist.
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Al Qahwa’s new recording “Weyn Allah” has contributions from different members in the group. The performers are: Maryem Tollar (qanun, vocals), Ernie Tollar (sax, flutes, b.up vocals), Demetri Petsalakis (oud, guitar, b.up vocals), Naghmeh Farahmand (percussion, b.up vocals), Waleed Abdulhamid (bass, vocals) and Lauren Barnett (sax, b.up vocals). It was made with support from The Toronto Arts Council and The Ontario Arts Council. “Weyn Allah” has been nominated for the 2023 FMO ACTRA RACS Award for Best Recording Artists and the 2024 CFMA Award – “Oliver Schroer Pushing the Boundaries Award”. Come out to hear music from “Weyn Allah” as well as songs from their previous recordings.