2 pm – Advance x JUNO Talks: The Influence of Black Music, June 3rd.
All photos taken by Deb Draper.
Akeel Henry is of Jamaican background, raised in the Pentecostal church since the age of 6yr old. He is an alive and session pianist, music producer, freelance audio engineer, Noah ’40’ Shebib, and session musician from Pickering Ontario. After graduating from Metalworks Institute and interning at Phase One Studios in Toronto, then went onto a coveted opportunity to work with OVO’s 40, with Drake‘s producer, worked with fellow producers like DZL, Batista, and names like Roy Woods, Jeremih, Ty Dolla $ign, and Sage the Gemini, King Of The Dot, and he played piano for Shawn Mendes, Toni Braxton, and is a 2 time Juno nominee. The toughest part of this career for him was in being in college starting out but now, with years of skill he brings key expertise and R&B Vibes to his Toronto Sound, https://www.facebook.com/akeelhenryproductions
– Ammoye was born in Jamaica and raised in the Pentecostal gospel and reggae is her base. Moved to Toronto as a teenager joined the church choir, dropped out of Seneca to pursue music, and has sung with Michael Buble as a backup singer, is a 5-time Juno nominee, and has opened for the Arkell’s. She is nominated for her single Give It All, and her new album, Water, will be released on August 11, 2021. Her favorite moment was when she played at EXIT Festival in Serbia, where she was asked to perform 3 times and the 1st time was at 5 am. She was shocked that it was packed and the audience was singing to her lyrics at 5 am!!! Also, was pleasant to see Salome Bey and Liberty Silver getting their first Junos or Julie Black since she is her biggest influence, paving the way for people like her. She would like to see more radio and media to give more respect to Reggae. https://www.ammoye.com
– Billy Newton-Davis is a 3-time Juno awarded Canadian vocalist who works in the genres of jazz, gospel, dance, house music, and R&B. He started singing in the church at 5-years-old, and music has been his career all his life. He started University and did Broadway in NY and Toronto, a dream come true. He received the Order of Canada, is a singer-songwriter, composer, and loves actress Salome Bey who has lived in Toronto, who he worked with. Billy also sang with the iconic Nylons. His favorite moment in his career thus far was when he got to perform with Sammy Davis jr. on broadway, “it was what I wanted and I got it!” As well, Celine Dion sang on my album too, but Sammy was my greatest joy. Billy went on to say, “We need to lift each other up and give each other support. Julie Black is so cool. We have the talent we have to lift each other up and talk to each other.” The roots of Canadian black music and its impact on the national culture, “well, I remember my 1st Juno, and I wasn’t quite knowledgeable of the West Indian culture when I came from New York. This culture lifted me and I remember where I come from. I got to work with Celine Dion, I was on my 2nd album, I went back into Vancouver to make a duet and I was introduced to Celine. I love Celine, we went to New York and did the recording, and this was her 1st recorded English song to my knowledge, and it was a match. Can’t Live With You, Can’t Live Without You, was the song, she was 18 and very professional.” http://videos.sapo.pt/hVr2LKTBrmsc5s5LQQIk https://www.billynewtondavismusic.com
– Dalton Higgins is a long-time media pro in Toronto working at CKLM with Otis as a publicist and strategist with grammy award winners Snoh Aalegras and Junos jazz Allan Rayman. I wrote a book about Drake, Far from Over: The Music and Life of Drake. The hardest moment of my career thus far was as a media practitioner in the mid-90s when there were so few, or little to no opportunities for black journalists. I had to write in the USA and started with The Source which is the bible of magazines of hip-hop culture, I worked for Vibe Magazine, and freelanced for other magazines in the USA. My current obsessions I have would be electronic-based music. “As a publicist, I will be working out a new recording program in September at Ryerson University hoping to educate regarding Black History of Canada and Toronto hoping the millennials, and Gen Xers will learn who these trailblazers are.” He goes on to say, “I find my EDM and Rap clients don’t know who these living breathing legends are.” “I wrote a book on Much Music and it was my first book I ever wrote back in 2002 about MuchMusic, and it served as a mini-comprehensive history of MuchMusic, as seen through the eyes of one of its most popular VJ’s (Master T) who’d been working there since the doors opened in 1984.” Michie Mee, “She’s the first lady of Rap!” and we grew up within Little Jamaica which is at Eglinton Ave West and Keele Street into Marlee West. She went to school in the west end of Toronto where we used to congregate at Monica’s record shop where some of the 1st hip-hop promotions took place, Rock n Roll Heaven owner’s son Derek, let me help by carrying records in the Bloor subway station for Run DMC. Dalton shared, ” black music is the new gold rush.” https://daltonhiggins.wixsite.com
Melanie Durrant is a Canadian urban contemporary-style singer and she has been humming and singing all her life and has worked with 50cent, James Lee Baker best known as BlocBoy JB, as well, worked with Joe Scott. In 2015, she was one of the 1st artists I was captured with at the Junos Kick-off celebration in Hamilton. She is a Jamaica Nova Scotian Scottish mix and her favorite moment in her career just happened she stated. “My new single, Listen from my 3rd studio album, Where I’m At, got noticed by Michael Jackson’s guitar player who then reposted my release and recommended others to follow me, as she is amazing!” The hardest moment of my career was when I got shelved by Motown. Molly Johnson, 1 of Canada’s greatest voices, award-winning jazz vocalist, I met when I was 7, and she owned a dress shop on Queen Street and I ended up wearing one of her iconic dresses in my music video, can’t believe the moment in history I wore a Molly Johnson dress. Back in the day when my mom was entering the business, they used to say, “If it’s black throw it back” type-token gestures, which unfortunately still continues today. 1st show I have ever done was with Solome Bey. With the legacy of music in her home and the influence of Karen Durrant as her mother, Melanie had this to say, “I was allowed to sing and dance on the coffee table, we make music today, it’s like my childhood on display.” My mom performed in nightclubs then turned her career into Tina Turner Tribute and I have joined her. Her new album, Where I’m At, is fused with vintage 90s R&B, boom-bap, soul and encompasses faint sounds of Latin and reggae all written by Durrant who shared, and continued to say, “people live through these ups and downs every day and I wanted to embody my experiences that I have gone through or have seen through the lens of people I know into this new album.” https://melaniedurrant.com