Music

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.

Who played “Black music?” Any discussion of the African-Canadian musical scene must include the many community centres, clubs, and particularly television and radio stations that have given some airtime and programming to Black music, from MuchMusic to the African-Canadian owned and operated “urban music station” FLOW 93.5, given its licence by the CRTC after 12 years of effort by Denham Jolly, CEO, as supported by the African-Canadian community seeking to have their voices heard.

Measha Brueggergosman: Surprise
In this video clip Measha talks about recording her new DG album Surprise in London. Includes scenes of her recording session. From YouTube.

Norval Johnson Heritage Library
The website for the Norval Johnson Heritage Library, an extensive collection of resources that documents Black history of the Niagara region and the rest of Canada. Also includes profiles of community leaders, information about the Nathaniel Dett Memorial Chapel, online newsletters, and more.

Oscar Peterson - A Jazz Sensation
A superb website about one of Canada’s greatest jazz musicians. Features a biography, articles, photos, and music samples. From Library and Archives Canada.

Oscar Peterson Fonds
Information page about the Oscar Peterson fonds at Library and Archives Canada. Click on the link to view a photo of the young Oscar Peterson.

Portia White
An illustrated article devoted to the life and times of acclaimed singer Portia White. From the Our Roots website.

Tree Sculpture of Portia White
A photo of a tree sculpture of singer Portia White. Located at Zion Baptist Church, Truro, Nova Scotia. From the Canada's Historic Places website.

Portia May White
Scroll down to page 13 for a feature on internationally celebrated singer Portia May White. From Parks Canada.

Caribana exhibit toasts African-Canadian achievement
A CBC news story about an art exhibit showcasing accomplishments of African Canadians that runs in conjunction with Toronto's annual Caribana festival.

The Life of Portia White
Scroll down to page 63 for a biography of renowned contralto Portia White. From the book What's a black critic to do...? From Google Books.

Portia May White
A photo of the celebrated concert artist Portia May White by photographer Yousef Karsh. From the online exhibit ON THE ROAD NORTH - Black Canada and Journey to Freedom.

Portia White
A photo and brief reference to singer Portia White. From the website for Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Portia White
A photo and brief reference to singer Portia White. From the website for Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Portia White
A photo and brief reference to singer Portia White. From the website for Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Oscar Peterson - "You Look Good To Me"
Watch an Oscar Peterson performance of "You Look Good to Me." From YouTube.

Deborah Cox
The website for the multitalented performer Deborah Cox. Check out the links to audio clips from her recordings.

Cox Rocks - Interview With Singer Deborah Cox
In this 1999 interview, Deborah Cox talks about growing up in Toronto and the early years of her music career. From the website From the website findarticles.com.

Deborah Cox
A 2009 interview with singer and actor Deborah Cox. From the website soulmusic.com.

Big Miller
A biography of jazz musician Clarence Horatius "Big" Miller from Billboard.com.

Big Miller: Live At Athabasca University
Listen to audio clips from recordings featuring Canadian jazz musician Big Miller. From the iTunes website.

Big Miller and the Tommy Banks Big Band and Quartet
Listen to audio clips from this recording featuring Big Miller and Tommy Banks. From allmusic.com.

Celebrating Caribana
An article about the history of Toronto's Caribana cultural festival. From the canadianimmigrant.ca website.

Caribana
A photograph of performers taking part in the Caribana parade in Toronto. From the website ...and still I rise: A history of African Canadian Workers in Ontario 1900 to Present.

CBC and Caribana
An interactive timeline depicting the history of Toronto's Caribana celebration. Also check out the audio clips on the right side of the page. From the CBC Toronto website.

Scotiabank Caribana
A 2008 press release about Scotiabank's partnership with the Festival Management Committee of Caribana to form Scotiabank Caribana. From scotiabank.com.

Scotiabank Caribana
The website for Scotiabank Caribana features photos, stories and program info for this enormously popular annual Caribbean cultural festival in Toronto.

Sweet Georgia Brown
Watch Oscar Peterson's solo performance of "Sweet Georgia Brown." From YouTube.

Clarence "Big" Miller
Scroll down the page for a brief bio of "Big" Miller. From the website Little Chicago's Jazz Hall of Fame.

Honor! A Celebration of the African American Cultural Legacy
Scroll down the page to "1951-1960" to view the name of Clarence "Big" Miller on the "List of Honour" at the Carnegie Hall website Honor! A Celebration of the African American Cultural Legacy.

Clarence Miller; Singer With Jazz Groups
A brief obituary for jazz performer Clarence "Big" Miller. From the Los Angeles Times.

Jackie Richardson
A profile of vocalist Jackie Richardson from the Canadian Jazz Archive Online.

Black music and musicians
A history of Black Canadian music from the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Black Africa
About African influences in Black Canadian culture. From the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Caribbean
A survey of Caribbean musical styles and genres. From the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Blues
A history of blues music and performers in Canada. From the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Black Music in the Maritimes
About the history of Black music in Nova Scotia. From the Canadian Journal for Traditional Music.

Caribana
This article about Toronto’s Caribana festival is from the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

World Music
Historical trends in world music from The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Urban Music
A brief survey of urban music from The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Toronto Urban Music Festival
Bios and some clips of performers at the Toronto Urban Music Festival.

Irie Music Festival
The website for Toronto’s popular reggae music festival.

Lillian Allen
Bio of Lillian Allen, Canada's foremost dub poet. From the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Charlie Biddle
About Charlie Biddle, celebrated Montréal jazz musician. From the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Ragtime
A history of ragtime music in Canada. From the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Shelton Brooks
A profile of Canadian-born songwriter Shelton Brooks. From the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Nathaniel Dett
Biography of celebrated musician Nathaniel Dett. From the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Nathaniel Dett Chorale
The website for Canada’s celebrated Nathaniel Dett Chorale. Check out the biographies, videos of their performances, and much more.

Carry Me Home: The Story of Nathaniel Dett Chorale
Video clip from the documentary Carry Me Home: The Story & Music of the Nathaniel Dett Chorale.

Monica Gaylord
Brief profile of Canadian classical pianist Monica Gaylord. From the Royal Conservatory of Music.

Monica Gaylord
About Canadian pianist and harpsichordist Monica Gaylord. From the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Lou Hooper
A profile of Canadian pianist Lou Hooper from the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Big Miller
A bio of jazz and blues singer Big Miller. From the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Big Miller
Profile of Clarence Horatius “Big” Miller. From the Albertans: Who do they think they are?

Big and the Blues
Images and other media featuring Big Miller from the film Big and the Blues. From the National Film Board.

Messenjah
Profiles Canadian reggae band Messenjah. From the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir
Dedicated to the Montréal Jubilation Gospel Choir. Profiles, annotated discography, and more.

Oscar Peterson
Extensive biography of the legendary Oscar Peterson. From the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Oscar Peterson: A Jazz Giant
Vintage CBC audio and video clips featuring Oscar Peterson.

Jackie Richardson
Bio of acclaimed Canadian singer Jackie Richardson. From the South African Women for Women website.

Joe Sealy
Music clips featuring Canadian jazz musician Joe Sealy. From LiveTourArtists.

Jackie Washington
This profile of Canadian musician Jackie Washington is from the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Portia White
Profile of Black Canadian musician Portia White. A Mount Allison University website.

Portia White
Brief bio of soloist Portia White from the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Sheet Music from Canada's Past
Search for Canadian sheet music and audio clips. From Library and Archives Canada.

The Virtual Gramophone
Search for digitized recordings of Canadian music and more. From Library and Archives Canada.

Denise Williams
The website for Canadian soprano Denise Williams. Includes a biography, audio clips, info about educational programs, and more.

African Guitar Summit
Notes about a CBC recording of outstanding Black Canadian guitarists.