Lebanese Music in Canada | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Lebanese Music in Canada

Immigration to Canada from Lebanon (formerly part of the Ottoman district of 'Greater Syria') began in 1882.

Immigration to Canada from Lebanon (formerly part of the Ottoman district of 'Greater Syria') began in 1882. The first wave brought mainly small merchants; the second wave (1946 onward; including Palestinians) brought mainly blue-collar workers; the third wave (1962 onward; including Palestinians) brought white- and blue-collar workers in about equal numbers, a fourth wave (1975 onward; including Palestinians) came as a result of the civil war.

Lebanese-Canadians have tended to abandon their native language and culture more completely than have, for example, Syrian-Canadians. Thus, there is marked acculturation among second-generation Lebanese-Canadians, and those of the third generation, apart from occasionally dancing the 'Dabkah,' have assimilated entirely into Canadian culture. But the third and fourth wave brought fresh repertoire and much traditional Lebanese music. This explains to a great extent the visits of popular stars such as Feyrouz and Wadi el-Safi.

Among first-generation Lebanese-Canadians, structured public performances (see Arabic music) have consisted almost entirely of commercialized classical, folk, and popular Arabic music. While classical Arabic music is not popular among Lebanese-Canadians, Lebanese folkdances (mainly the 'Dabkah') are performed publicly by the Arab Folklore Group with recorded music. In addition, authentic folksongs are sung, with or without instrumental accompaniment, at private gatherings by those from the same region who wish to preserve their heritage. Canadians of Lebanese descent active in music have included John Arab, Nick Ayoub, Norman Brooks, Frederick and Ed Karam, Andy Kim, and Jeannette Zarou.

See also Arabic music; Egypt; Syria