By Darlene Barss
Playlist Friday this week is to honour Black History Month with the focus being on black musicians of Canada and the music they make. Our playlist has a couple of musicians from the past but is mostly filled with current black musicians of today. Drake, Kaytranada and The Weeknd are on there along with Salome Bey’s daughter SATE (formerly Saidah Baba Talibah) and Cold Specks and many more. There is plenty of soul in this playlist…and hip-hop and world music and pop and rock…Take a listen!
About Black History Month
The commemoration of Black History Month dates back to 1926, when Harvard-educated African American historian Carter G. Woodson proposed setting aside a time devoted to honour the accomplishments of African Americans and to heighten awareness of Black history in the United States. This led to the establishment of Negro History Week in 1926. Celebrations of Black history began in Canada also shortly thereafter. During the early 1970s, the week became known as Black History Week. It was expanded into Black History Month in 1976.
In December 1995, the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month in Canada following a motion introduced by the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament, the Honourable Jean Augustine. The motion was carried unanimously by the House of Commons.
In February 2008, Senator Donald Oliver, the first Black man appointed to the Senate, introduced the Motion to Recognize Contributions of Black Canadians and February as Black History Month. It received unanimous approval and was adopted on March 4, 2008. The adoption of this motion completed Canada’s parliamentary position on Black History Month.
Visit the Government of Canada website to find out more about Black History Month in Canada.
Black Musicians in Canada
The earliest documented instance of a black musician in Canada is a notice in the Quebec Gazette of 30 Nov 1775 for a runaway slave named Lowcanes who spoke French but little English, ‘et jouant très bien du violon’ (‘plays the violin very well’). A water-colour from 1807, G. Heriot’s Menuet des Canadiens, shows a black musician playing a tambourine for a group of dancers, and an occupational survey of 159 blacks in Toronto in 1840 (cited by Daniel G. Hill in The Freedom-Seekers: Blacks in Early Canada, Agincourt, Ont, 1981), revealed two musicians among their number. Hill also noted the presence in Collingwood, Ont, of an unnamed fiddler, fl 1850-70, who played for excursion parties on the boats Ploughboy and Francis Smith.
Visit the Canadian Encyclopedia website for more history on Black Musicians in Canada.
For more current Black Musicians in Canada, check out the playlist and enjoy!
Do you know an artist you would like me to add to the playlist?