Daniel Feist was born in Montreal on January 27, 1954 as the son of German immigrants Ursula and David Feist. His father was a visual artsit. Daniel Feist was married to Susan (Susie) Kessler. They had two children, Emily and Max. Daniel Feist died in Montreal on February 11, 2005.
Feist received a BA degree in Communications Studies and German and a minor in music from Concordia University, where he later studied music composition.
He worked as a freelance broadcast and print journalist, electroacoustic musician, band manager, and record producer, and he taught at Dawson College (1980-1984) and in the Department of Music and the Department of Communications Studies at Concordia University (1990-1999). From 1997 to 1999, Feist offered the World-Beat Music History Course in the Department of Music. As part of the class work he brought world music artists who were residents of Montreal to Concordia’s Oscar Peterson Concert Hall to perform and be interviewed.
Feist was one of the first broadcasters to embrace world music (world beat, i.e., the popular music of the Caribbean, Africa, Latin America and other parts of the world). He traveled widely, especially in Africa, where he also lived for several years, and interviewed many performers. He was considered an expert in the music of Africa and the Caribbean.
Since the early 1990s, Feist hosted the world-beat program “Rhythms International” on Sunday nights on the Montreal radio station CJFM Mix-96FM. Rhythms International was the only program of its kind on commercial radio in Canada. For several years, Feist also provided a version of Rhythms International for Air Canada’s and Delta Airlines’ in-flight programming, and he wrote and hosted the world-beat series “A Whole New World”on CBC-FM radio from 1993 to 1995.
As an electroacoustic composer, Feist was a member of the Concordia University Electroacoustics group, which had been founded in 1982 as the Concordia Electroacoustics Composers Group. The group’s members composed electroacoustic music and gave concerts. In 1990 his composition “Auxferd Nightburr’d November 2 A.M.” was voted jury winner at the first ACREQ (Association pour la création et la recherche électroacoustiques du Québec) Electroclips competition.
Feist was a long-time contributor to Montreal’s The Gazette as a world-beat music critic and he wrote for programs of events such as the Montreal festival Nuits d’Afrique. In 2001 he covered the United Nations Conference Against Racism in Durban for the Southam News Agency. In 2002 he covered the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. Being diagnosed with cancer in 2004, Daniel Feist wrote together with Stan Shatenstein a series of articles for The Gazette chronicling his treatment. Theses articles were published as a book by CanWest in 2006, entitled "Cancer: My Story".