By TOM GODFREY
Toronto singer, Amoy Levy, who is dubbed a “powerhouse gospel sensation”, will join other top entertainers on the stages of the Beaches International Jazz Festival this month.
The 26th annual festival will run from July 18 to 27 with more than 40 bands playing on four stages at Woodbine Park, which is now home for the high-profile event.
“I am very excited to be in the line-up,” Levy told Share. “The audiences have been enjoying my music and people have been very gracious.”
Levy has been singing in gospel shows at churches in the GTA and has recently released a CD called Testimony.
“I was brought up and instilled with Jamaican culture and values,” she said. “Every aspect of my life and upbringing has been influenced by my Caribbean and Christian roots.”
Levy promises to have fans on their feet during her lively set on July 19 at 4 p.m. on the TD Stage.
She began singing in a family group called “Zion’s Youth,” and has since performed on the YTV Awards and worked with stars such as Celine Dion, Olivia Newton John and gospel greats Danny Brooks, Ken Whiteley and Fred Hammond.
About one million jazz fans are expected to attend the festival, with its signature StreetFest event taking place on July 24 to 26 along Queen St. E.
The popular StreetFest will feature 40 Canadian bands playing on corners along a 2.5 km-stretch of Queen St., which will be closed to traffic.
A listing for the street corners where the bands will perform is available online.
Festival Artistic Director Bill King says there will be music for everyone to enjoy.
“Our audience complains about the frenzy and crowd factor each year but then can’t wait to come back the following year to hear the familiar and the new bands,” King told Share.
King said the event will introduce its loyal audience to good Canadian jazz, “in a non-exclusionary and culturally inclusive fashion”.
“The festival legitimizes local talent and continues to provide a springboard for artists to catapult into the world music scene,” he said. “It attracts one of the most diverse audiences of any event in Canada.”
Organizers said the popular event will remain free and loyal to its jazz roots.
This year, jazz will meet Salsa at the Latin Square Stage that will showcase drummer Max Senitt’s Latin Jazz with guest vocalist, South American-raised, Valeria Matzner.
And the reunited Messenjah reggae band, which had a loyal following in Toronto in the 1980s, will be performing on the Main Stage on July 25.
Also headlining will be Blues Music Award nominee Teeny Tucker; R&B singer Jay Douglas, Dumpstaphunk, Trampled Under Foot, Michelle Willson, Bill King and his Rhythm Express and Latin-guitar master and world music artist Johannes Linstead.
The festival began in 1989, when top jazz artists were booked to perform at the Kew Beach Bandshell.
The event pumps millions of dollars into the Beaches economy and is a major contribution to promoting Canadian jazz excellence in Toronto and on the world stage, organizers said.
There will also be lots of food, beer gardens, art and crafts, booths and things to do. For more info visit www.beachesjazz.com.