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Canada’s queen of soul

Submitted by on January 24, 2010 – 1:37 amNo Comment


The sum of Canadian hip hop once equalled Maestro Fresh Wes. That’s changed. Over the past 20 years, Battleaxe Records in the west, Halflife out east, and hundreds of hip-hop collectives all over the mid-west and Quebec have formed.

Ontario has its provincial government to thank in part for helping bring together one of the country’s most influential crews, both then and now, Toronto’s Circle.

Formed under Jobs Ontario Youth, the Fresh Arts program that gave birth to the Circle, saw teens like Kareem Blake, Amani Wailoo, Jason Harrow and Jully Gordon get  paid to learn to produce, rap, sing, dance and act alongside one another. At 15-years-old, Jully Gordon, aka Jully Black, was making music and forming friendships with names we now know as Choclair, Saukrates and Kardinal Offishall.

“We made a lot of friends and when the program ended we maintained those friendships, we collaborated and created a network,” Black reflects on the road over the phone from Georgia in the U.S. “It just goes to prove that your network is your net worth.”

The novel idea is one that should perhaps be studied by artists and politicians alike. For the most part, Black believes, Canadian musicians, artists and actors are singing the same song: Where’s the love?

“Why don’t they embrace us right out the womb?” she questions. “The people who have the power to deliver the music, get the TV shows aired or get songs played on the radio aren’t doing it because we’re married to America.”

Black cites her childhood friend Kardinal, who since signing to Akon’s Konvict Musik has been “blowin’ up” in the States, as yet another artist who has been recognized and rewarded in the U.S. before being claimed by Canada. “ It takes them a while to hold us. With Kardinal, now, it’s like he’s ours,” she laughs. “But he’s always been ours.”

As the youngest of nine children and only of her brothers and sisters born in Canada, Black understands the importance of representing for the home country. She wears her heart on her sleeve. With the maple leaf tattooed on her skin, the country’s queen of soul and R&B has plans of “touring across every inch of Canada, playing shows, and touching hearts.”

Remi L. Roy

also Appeared in XPress-02/19/2009

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