Local Spotlight: Ali Awan

Published On September 23, 2019 | Local Spotlight

Our local Spotlight is currently on this dynamic up-and-coming indie/alt-rock artist, singer/songwriter and producer (and my new friend!), Ali Awan.


The kick-off day for Philly Music Fest 2019 is about to be upon us and because of this, we have decided to shine some of our ‘local spotlight’ on one of the artists that’s involved in it. Ali Awan, a Philadelphia native, who will be performing downstairs at World Cafe Live on Friday, September 27th, breaks past societal barriers with ease, proving that he not only has the talent, but also the innate wisdom and diversity that is needed to span multi-genre platforms, placing him directly outside of “the box.”

Written by Jen Strogatz. Photos by Jen Strogatz.



Ali’s EP, Butterfly, contains 7 self-written, produced and self-released songs, all of which are different enough from one another to keep your attention, but also similar enough that they make sense as a cohesive collection. Among some of his musical influences, in terms of song writing, are the great Bob Dylan, The Pretenders, David Bowie, “dirty, raw sounds,” like The Kinks, older Black Lips stuff, and Holly GoLightly is “a great artist for tonal things like textures and song structures.”

Ali Awan has already been embraced by WXPN, who named him their Artist to Watch for January 2019, featured him in their Free At Noon concert series, as well as hosted him for a Key Studio Session performance. Ali Awan and his band also performed at South By Southwest in March of this year. As up-and-coming musicians go, Ali Awan is DEFINITELY the one to be watching.

I recently had the chance to hang out with Ali. We met at a cozy neighborhood bar, which seemed to be a fitting atmosphere for both of us, and we got to know each other over a few drinks. Although Ali seemed to be shy and was very soft-spoken when we first met, once he warmed up to me and felt more comfortable, we became fast buds. He is an extremely bright, thoughtful, and witty person with the soul of a true artist, craving depth in a pretty shallow world.

I learned that Ali is currently 27 years-old and his birthday is on May 16th, 1992, making him a Taurus. He was born outside of Philly, in Abington, and he moved to Saudi Arabia at the beginning of 2nd grade for about 3 years. Surprisingly enough, he says that he still retained some pretty vivid memories from those years. We spent our time together engaged in a fairly deep, existential conversation about life, the world, his music and also about our shared love of hummus. We exchanged some strange stories of our camping experiences and had a small debate over tomatoes, tomato juice and what makes the two so vastly different. When talking about people he concluded, “I don’t trust people who don’t ponder… It’s just people who don’t stop every once in a while and think about… not even what’s happening, but why it’s happening…” I readily agreed with his logic and appreciated Ali putting the words and voice to my inner pondering.

Ali started playing guitar when he was just 14 years old, which is also when he began to pursue his career in music. He said that he enjoys just getting home and putting chords to words, sometimes practicing scales. He writes all of his own music, and is a fairly brilliant songwriter. When I asked him where he gets his inspiration, he told me, “Rumors, peoples’ faces, stories I hear, I don’t know, everywhere…” When asked what it is like for him to play live music, Ali responded that it’s “finally where I get some peace and quiet. Thoughts run all day, all night, then when you’re on stage, at least for me, they stop.”

Ali began his career performing in West Philadelphia playing guitar and bass at the age of 15 and toured the country as a member of psych-boogie band, Needle Points and with the New York based, Jane Church. In 2018, he released the single “Citadel Blues,” which was quickly added into the rotation at WXPN. 

Ali Awan, Press Release

Ali mentioned to me that they are very excited to play for everyone at Philly Music Fest on the 27th (This Friday!) , and that he is going to be releasing some new music over the next few months!

So, we’re going to be keeping our eyes on this guy because not only is he the real deal, but he’s coming in HOT!


Ali Awan playing Free At Noon Concert for WXPN

Click through the slideshow below for our full photo gallery!

  • Image of singer/songwriter Ali Awan wearing rainbow sunglasses and a hat


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