Terell Safadi and his experience as a Black musician in Canada

Terell Safadi‘s impactful lyrics in ‘Black History’ are markedly resonant and powerful with a call to action to listen and a call for equality. ‘Black History’ holds powerful and poetic messaging to carry you through the visual narrative of Terell’s own experiences, the injustices of continuous police brutality and the effects of slavery. The video for ‘Black History’ was released earlier this year in honour of Black History Month. We spoke with Terell about bringing his lyrics to life, navigating the music industry as a Black musician and his advice to emerging artists.

 

Terell Safadi, Black History


What did the first days of your career look like? How did you break into the industry?

I first broke in locally with a remix called “Black Red Yellow” It was a song about the Vancouver Canucks’ old retro jersey colours. After that, I started to gain exposure on a national level with my videos airing on Much Music and touring across Canada with Bone Thugs N Harmony.

What drives your work?
Knowing that I have a talent and voice that needs to be used to motivate, make people feel good, and sometimes give them something they can relate to so they know they aren’t alone.

What have been, and continue to be the barriers you face as a BIPOC musician navigating the industry?
I can only really speak for the Canadian music industry right now, but there’s definitely a lot of push back towards Black artists in rap in Vancouver. Only a hand full of Black artists have broken out of Vancouver ever. Vancouver’s Black population is only around 1%, that being said, I feel like we don’t really have a voice here and the voice that we do have is silenced, we aren’t as unified as we should be. I can’t really say why but white artists definitely get more fan support, and I know the quality of all the music is very competitive.

 

Terell Safadi by Jalil Ayaz Chaudry

 

What parts of yourself as a musician do you hope to see more of in the music industry?
More truth, more people being who they actually are. More people standing up for us, more people actually making good music and not just mindless stuff to get streams and views and bring a negative view of the culture.

The music video for your song ‘Black History’ came out this February for Black History month, tell us about your experiences that shaped and informed the lyrics.
These lyrics are a reflection of my life, what I stand for, and what I’ve been through as a Black man. I was finally able to articulate all the things my friends and I talk about in private, the frustration with the system, the anger that goes along with watching someone with the same skin colour as you be treated less than an animal.

Tell us a bit about the process in the creation of your video, how did you and your team bring your words to life?
Because I was able to get video funding from Creative BC and the Vancouver Music Fund I had the budget to hire all of the proper people and put them in place to execute my vision. I was able to really tell my story and also portray parts of my life like police using excessive force.

What message do you want people to take away most with your lyrics in ‘Black History’?
“It ain’t White VS Black, this is right VS wrong, this is life VS death”. A lyric from the song that I wrote that before George Floyd’s tragic murder. I just wanted people to understand I just want equality, nothing more nothing less. I don’t want people’s pity I want people’s understanding. It baffles me that some Canadians think that we don’t go through the same racial injustices as America, you can’t tell me we don’t because I have experienced them first hand!

What advice do you have to young and emerging musicians trying to break into the industry?
Take advantage of the resources we have at our fingertips, if you’re Canadian, look at our grant systems and see what kind of funding you’re eligible for. Use data to market your music. Collaborate with other artists on the come up and put your platforms together to create more of a buzz. Too many artists out there want to be the quarterback and the receiver but you can’t be both, BUILD WITH PEOPLE!!!

Do you have any upcoming projects we can look out for?
Yes, I have an EP coming this JULY 😉 and a few other releases to set the summer off, be on the lookout for that, and the videos to roll out with it. Follow me on Instagram to keep up to date!

 

Terell Safadi by Lucho Berzek

 

Black History Video Credits
Producer: Angela Harris (Fair Wend Entertainment Services)
Production Assistant: Garrett Vandusen
Director: Terell Safadi
Videography & Editing: Ronan Bryson
Styled: Style Me Rude

 

Follow Terell
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Award-winning B.C. artist Joey Stylez performs on Facebook Live this Saturday, June 20th

Join Joey Stylez, one of Canada’s top 25 rappers of all time voted by CBC on Facebook Live, June 20th at 3:30PM. Joey Stylez will perform alongside his band, with a special guest appearance from Carsen Gray and the performance of his soon to be released single “You Driving Me Crazy (Indian Girl)” which features the legendary drum group, Northern Cree.

Joey Stylez ‘2 Die 4’

 

Livestream Details:
Date
: June 20
Time: 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm PDT
Join the livestream here: http://facebook.com/joeystylezworld

 

Joey Stylez by Jack Gambell

 

Joey Stylez’s story is as unique as the music he creates. This Juno-nominated Hip Hop artist hit the ground running in the early 2000s with internet and mainstream hits that challenged society’s views of Indigenous people. With online streaming in the tens of millions and collaborations with big names such as Dragonette, Bun B & Ty Dolla $ign, Stylez has showcased his talents to the delight of his fans. He has charted on Canadian top 40 radio and has served as a role model to Indigenous youth, as he overcame a troubled past and gained a respectable following. Stylez inspired a generation of Canadian musicians, including The Weeknd, and was recognized by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) as one of the top 25 Canadian rappers of all time. He has opened for artists such as Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, and Billy Ray Cyrus. His catalogue has tracks with the likes of Grammy Award-winning producer James Ho (Malay). He continues to tour extensively and create chart-topping hits.

Joey’s journey was not without twists and turns. Growing up in Saskatoon, a mid-sized city on the prairies of Canada, he had gone down a path of darkness that few return from. With friends and family members on the same path dying, and the statistics for Indigenous youth dismal, the future did not look promising for him as a young man. He had fallen into a life of crime and violence. But, one night while sitting in the back of a police car and facing a certain prison sentence, things changed. He prayed, and promised his deceased cousin Kevin and uncle Isho that if he could possibly avoid incarceration, he would turn his life around, which he certainly did! He feels that his prayers and promises were heard. Joey’s life experiences instilled in him, a desire to make a difference in the lives of others. His early music, which served as healing medicine, told a story of the current reality of being an Indigenous youth in Canada. He became an online force as he released song after song and video after video, that shared that story with mainstream North America and across the globe. He had the honor of opening Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation process at a Winnipeg event along with Blue Rodeo and performed his critically acclaimed song Living Proof that illustrated the horrors of Canada’s Residential School system, which his Plains Cree Koohkom (Grandmother) had attended.

Joey’s Koohkom was a major force in his life. Speaking no English, she followed the traditional Cree culture and her spirituality was instilled in him. He attributes his participation in traditional ceremonies as part of who he is, how he survived his past and what brought him to the successful place he enjoys today with his family, whom he lives for.  Traditional ceremonies, not unlike religions around the world, include a connection to the spirit world and the use of medicines that have been harvested for many thousands of years. These ceremonies are known to lead to healing miracles. Joey feels that his life has been nothing short of miraculous and gives thanks daily for his many blessings.

While he practices his Cree traditions, Stylez has lived in major cities across North America such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver while he performed across the world. He is as comfortable in Tokyo or Los Angeles as he is in a tiny Indigenous community in northern Canada or Europe. With many awards and accolades under his belt, he cites the greatest award he has ever received is knowing that his strong work ethic has inspired others to success.

Follow Joey Stylez
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Discover more livestream events from British Columbia’s creative industry on Showcase BC.

Haida Gwaii’s award-winning singer Carsen Gray counts blessings in her latest single ‘Sah ‘Laana’

Hailing from Haida Gwaii, B.C., Carsen Gray is a Haida Indigenous and mixed descent award-winning singer/songwriter.

Earlier this year Carsen released the official music video for her latest single ‘Sah ‘Laana’. The lyrics, supported by the beats of Vancouver-based producer Vago, thank God for the beauty of the land on Haida Gwaii and the blessings Carsen counts in her life, including her four-year-old son Matisse and one-year-old daughter Josette.

The accompanying music video, directed by Patrick Shannon’s InnoNative company and sponsored by the Taking It Global non-governmental organization, features visuals of Gray surrounded by nature and family.

Carsen Gray – Sah ‘Laana (Official Music Video)

Carsen’s early career took off when she became a regional finalist in the CBC 2015 Searchlight contest leading her to the creation of her debut self-titled album, released in 2017. Following the debut release of her singles, “Supernatural” and “Wanna See You” reached number one on the NCI FM Indigenous Music Countdown.

That same year, Carsen was awarded “Best New Artist” presented by SiriusXM, at the 2017 Indigenous Music Awards. Since then Carsen has performed at National Aboriginal Day for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and JunoFest Vancouver the following year.


Photo by Liz Rosa 

An unstoppable force with her soulful lyrics, captivating voice, and energetic sound, Carsen proves to be paving the way as an artist infusing Pop with Trap, Indigenous sounds, R&B and Soul.

Listen to Carsen’s music on Spotify and learn more about her here.

Krystle Dos Santos creates community through her daily Feed My Soul streams

Every morning at 10:00AM PST, Krystle Dos Santos hosts an Instagram Live morning conversation, Feed My Soul, where she connects and creates a community with artists, musicians, and creatives in Vancouver and across Canada. We invite you to listen and engage by sharing. You can tune into her daily chats here on her Instagram page.

 

Krystle Dos Santos is a Western Canadian Music Award-winning blues, jazz and soul singer based in Vancouver with Guyanese roots. She has been performing for more than a decade across Canada and is known for her powerful voice and infectious warmth, pairing original soul music with beloved Motown classics. With a voice that is commanding, powerful and rich with talent, her music, inspired by classic and neo-soul combined with contemporary hip-hop and R&B elements, is executed brilliantly. It’s simultaneously elegant, bold and sensual similar to modern legends Erykah Badu and Ms. Lauryn Hill. Her performances are mesmerizing; she sings with sheer heart-wrenching dominion about falling in love, heartbreak and struggle. Her approach to music is unmistakably genuine.

 

Buried Alive by Krystle Dos Santos (2019)

Released earlier from her album, BLOOM|BURN, Buried Alive is a call-to-action awareness video about domestic violence. Directed by Thomas Affolter with co-collaborators, Dixon Transition Society, Buried Alive brings to light the harsh realities that many people face in abusive relationships, with the message that “you are not alone”.

 

Krystle Dos Santos

 

YES MAMA, A Tribute to all Mothers by Missy D

This Mother’s Day, Missy D released a video for YES MAMA, a tribute to all mothers. This physically-distanced music video will leave you dancing.

 

YES MAMA Artistic Team
Written by Missy D
Mixed and Mastered by David Tallarico
Beats by Mantra

Directors: Alexander Farah and Lawrence Le Lam
Cinematographer: Leonardo Harim
Production Designer: Elizabeth Cairns
Colourist: Tomasz Wagner
Production Company: Wallop Film

Stream, Search and Submit Live Made-in-B.C. Events on Showcase BC

Introducing Showcase BC, a new relief program and online content hub. The Showcase BC program provides immediate support in the form of micro-grants to eligible emerging and established B.C. musicians who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded by the Province of British Columbia, this program will be administered by Creative BC and focuses on live-streaming, songwriting and professional development.

 

 

Online performances by recipients will be free and available to the public via the new hub that aggregates access to streaming events, showcasebc.ca, and through the hashtag #ShowcaseBC.

Creative BC will immediately offer grants to all previously eligible Amplify BC applicants, including those who applied for Amplify BC funds through Music BC and First Peoples’ Cultural Council programs, so artists can start creating at home.

Those from the interactive and digital media, motion picture, music and sound recording and publishing industries are welcome to submit their virtual events to Showcase BC to feature and promote their online event in the calendar.

Celebrate International Women’s Day at Let’s Hear It!


Mamarudegyal MTHC

On March 7th, Music BC and Cushy Entertainment are hosting a live showcase in celebration of International Women’s Day. The line-up features Turunesh, Mamarudegyal MTHC,  Missy D, DJ Denise and special guest host Tonye. This event is brought to us in part by Music BC’s Let’s Hear It! showcases.


Tonye

The showcase series offers a unique chance for artists to establish a sense of community by connecting with fans and members of the music industry through live performances and meaningful networking experiences. Let’s Hear It! champions the development of emerging artists and encourages inclusion and diversity in BC’s music industry.

 

 


Missy D (bottom left) Turunesh (top right)

Music BC is a non-profit society serving the British Columbia music industry by providing essential information, education, funding, advocacy, showcasing, and networking opportunities. Music BC is dedicated to developing the spirit, growth, and sustainability of the BC music community by supporting artists of all genres and music professionals throughout the industry.

Let’s Hear It! Live is supported by Creative BC and the Province of British Columbia, The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent On Recordings (FACTOR) and the Government of Canada.

Purchase tickets here.

The B.C. Artists nominated for 2020 JUNO Awards

 

Canada’s West Coast sweeps up multiple JUNO Award nominations for Canada’s biggest night in music.

 

Among the nominees are namesake and rising talent from British Columbia. View the full list of British Columbian nominees below.


Steve Bays

Producer of the Year

bbno$
Juno Fan Choice, Breakthrough Artist of the Year

Bryan Adams
Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Adult Contemporary Album of the Year

Michael Buble
Album of the Year

Black Mountain
Alternative Album of the Year

Ben Kaplan 
Jack Richardson Producer of the Year

Dan Bremnes 
Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year

Ryan Worsley 
Recording Engineer of the Year

Bria Skonberg
Vocal Jazz Album of the Year 

Chor Leoni
Classical Album of the Year: Vocal or Choral

Felix Cartal & Lights
Dance Recording of the Year

Johnny Jansen
Music Video of the Year

April Verch
Traditional Roots Album of the Year

 

The Juno Awards take place in March 2020 in Saskatoon. For the full list of nominees, visit the official JUNO website.

Rob Thomson, Music Curator, Full Circle

Rob Thomson has been playing music since 2003, yet music has been a part of his life since he was born. His dad’s a musician, his sister’s a musician, and music has always been in their house. 

As a teenager, Rob didn’t talk much with his dad, and so music became a way for them to connect. “I remember seeing him up on stage, this long-haired, Native dude playing guitar, and realizing, my dad’s pretty cool! I guess it was a natural progression to form a family band.”

Music has always been a way for Rob to connect with his heritage. Music helped him find bits and pieces of his culture, and it showed him that music could help tell a story. Rob believes that the story is growing. “When I started to play music, it was about myself. Then, it was about the people around me and my life experiences. Now that I’m in my 30s, with a daughter, I see now that it’s also about making a better world.”

When Rob first stepped into Full Circle more than ten years ago, it was as a performer. When the Olympics came to town, he had the opportunity to play in the house band at the Roundhouse Community Centre, in Vancouver. He was then asked to take on the role of music curator. He immediately connected with Creative BC to get some funding to do the kind of work he envisioned. “I had all of these ideas I wanted to do, and Creative BC helped make them a reality. I started to organize showcases and workshops, cultural training and outreach, all the while working on building relationships and collaborations. All of these things came together.”

When Rob first started teaching workshops, he wasn’t sure it was for him. “When I first started facilitating, it was the hardest thing I ever did. I was afraid I was inadequate. I was mostly self-taught, and was going into situations I knew nothing about.”

Rob now runs workshops around the province and beyond, providing resources, training, and best practices to Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists. For Rob, this path is one of constant learnings. He is always learning from his mentors who share with him what he did well and what he can do differently.

According to Rob, the best leaders are those who are compassionate and understanding while also holding people accountable. “When I lead a workshop, it’s a big balance of supporting people while also holding them responsible. I want to give people agency and then see what they can do.”

Rob believes the conversation around reconciliation has created a groundswell, as people are becoming more and more aware of Indigenous history and culture. “We are rich with artists and Indigenous music, people just didn’t know about us for many years. Now we have a studio space to create and to gather, and that’s been huge. We are starting to see the next wave in Indigenous music, built on the years and years of work that programmers and artists have done.”

In order to best support Indigenous artists, Rob believes we have to slow down. “We need time to develop healthy relationships, and that doesn’t happen overnight. Music connects all of us together, and can make us stronger. I didn’t realize that the work I do is community-based, that it’s grassroots, but it is. It’s the seed of development and a reflection of what’s going on in the world around us.”

Rob is a curator for Full Circle: First Nations Performance. They are hosting Talking Stick Festival from February 18-29.

An Interview with Rae Spoon, Musician, Author and Founder, Owner of Coax Records

“It’s important to lead by being open to learning things you don’t know.”
– Rae Spoon

Growing up, Rae Spoon was actually quite shy. Rae sang in a choir and started playing the guitar when they were 11. Music became their way of relating to other people, a social tool for personal expression. “When I decided to play music for a living, there was no holding me back. I just went for it!”

When Rae started in the music industry over 20 years ago, there didn’t seem to be much focus on a diversity of voices. While that has begun to change, there is still a long way to go. “I started my career out as queer in the 90s, and it wasn’t as open as it now feels in Calgary. I moved to Vancouver and came out as transgender in my 20s and had to navigate that. I had to find my identity, where I was from.”

Rae started Coax Records to support artists who are underrepresented. “I work with artists to present their music in a way that represents their story, not their identity. Many times, I’ve been invited to share my story, and people want a simple break down of one part of my identity – being trans took over everything. Everybody has complicated pieces of different things, where they are from, how they were raised, who they’ve met along the way. People need to be able to tell their own story.”

There are numerous barriers facing underrepresented artists, and most of them go unnoticed by those not directly impacted. “Most things I’ve learned have been through people facing different issues than me, and it’s made me open to learning things that I might be doing that are limiting others,” Rae states.

“Oppression is a series of decisions people make. To get a record in a music store, it needs to go through this chain of mostly white men – from recording to distribution, there are so many prejudices that are unconscious. Even preference is prejudice.”

There are so many people in Canada making world-class music, and there is so much talent in our province. Rae hopes that people realize that just because they haven’t heard of it, doesn’t mean it isn’t great. It likely means that there isn’t as much money behind it. “I want people to explore where there’s less funding.”

Rae has seen how much time and investment is being poured into the music industry in B.C. Rae received a grant from Creative BC, and that grant changed how Rae normally approaches making a record. “Creative BC wanted me to hire B.C. musicians, and that gave me pause to look around and see musicians that are closer to me. Everyone on my record was either a woman or non-binary. I was conscious with who I hired to create new opportunities.”

Since Rae started out, they are excited by the acceptance and space that young artists are growing up with, yet there’s still work to be done. “We have this opportunity to create these ambitious moments to make space for people. I’m happy with my career, I get to play music the way I want to. That’s my goal for other people now.”

Image by Dave Todon