Every February, Canadians are invited to participate in Black History Month festivities and events that honour the legacy of Black Canadians, past and present. Here at OurBasement we like to celebrate with music. The playlist of Canadian Black Musicians has grown to 100 artists from many genres this year. Music is a powerful thing.
“Music is a popular and readily available means of communicating. African musical forms interpreted through voice or makeshift instruments for European audiences were highly creative blends. Other musical forms, such as work songs and worship songs, educated and inspired enslaved Africans. It gave them hope, it gave them ideas and it gave them instructions. Follow the Drinking Gourd, or Wade in the Water, or Swing Low Sweet Chariot, all provided ideas on how to get connected to the “Underground Railroad,” and freedom.
Early African melodies, and feelings expressed in the New World led to the development of jazz, which led to the development of other musical forms that depended on African syncopated rhythms. However, African-Canadian musicians, even though their music was enjoyed, often found that they had to leave Canada to be fully appreciated, as have Canadian musicians of all races and genres.
From early greats like Oscar Petersen, jazz pianist and African-Nova Scotian Portia White, often called the greatest classical singer of the century, to today’s Measha Bruggergosman from New Brunswick and Maestro Fresh Wes, Black musicians have broken down barriers and brought African, Caribbean, and Afro-Latin music to the public’s attention. Musicians across all genres, like Oliver Jones, Montreal’s Charlie Biddle, Toronto’s Salome Bey, Almeta Speaks, Taborah Johnson, Jackie Richardson, Ranee Lee, Jully Black, Faith Nolan, Liberty Silver, Deborah Cox, Grace Price-Trotman to Karen Johnson Burke, gained success within a broader range of Canadian society or the international community due to the efforts of previous giants in breaking down some barriers.” (Source: Historica Canada)
For 2019, the theme of the Government of Canada’s Black History Month campaign is Black Canadian Youth: Boundless, Rooted and Proud. There is certainly a good representation of that in the playlist. It is kicked off by Tasha The Amazon and many other young artists can be found in it such as Zaki Ibrahim, Daniel Caesar, Ruth B, and Kaytranada. They certainly seem boundless, rooted and proud to me. So many favourite artists are on the playlist as well such as Shad, Grand Analog, Cadence Weapon, Pierre Kwenders, and Melissa Laveaux. It is a playlist of mostly current artists. Canada is rich in talent from Black Canadian artists and it is an honour to share their music with you.