Multi-talented artist, Dwayne Morgan, will receive a star during the Scarborough Walk of Fame’s sixth event in May.
Morgan’s name will be etched on a plaque and placed besides other honorees, including retired politician Gerry Phillips, on a wall at Scarborough Town Centre on Wednesday, May 15.
The honour comes in the 20th anniversary year since Morgan launched his artistic career while enrolled at Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate Institute. As president of the Scarborough high school’s Black Students Association, he wrote poetry for performances at talent shows and during Black History Month. He also founded Up from the Roots Entertainment Inc. in 1995 while still in school to promote the positive artistic contributions of African-Canadian and urban influenced artists.
The following year, Morgan secured a loan from Tropicana Community Services Organization to finance his first book, Straight from the Roots.
“That publication sold so well that I was able to pay back that loan in quick time,” said Morgan. “I used the rest of the money to put out my second book (The Revolution Starts Within) the next year.”
In 1998, Morgan started the “When Brothers Speak” spoken word series. Two years later, he launched a similar project for women.
“I did Brothers Speak and that was very successful and then people started asking me when I was going to do a women’s show,” he said. “I was of the opinion that a female would have started something, but when that did not happen, I said ‘let me start one for the fairer sex.’”
This year’s “When Sisters Speak” event took place last January at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts and it brought together six outstanding Canadian and American performers. The cast included author and poet Anne-Marie Woods, who made her first appearance in the showcase since 2006.
Morgan, whose Up From the Roots Entertainment team that also comprised Greg “Ritallin” Frankson, Patrick DeBelen, Lishai Peel and Serafino, became the first Toronto side to win the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW) crown in Saskatoon last October, recently launched his seventh book – Everyday Excellence – as part of Harbourfront Centre’s 17th annual Kuumba Festival.
“This is my first publication that is not a poetry book,” said the married father of a five-year-old son. Morgan was also the opening act for 14-time Grammy Award winner, Alicia Keys, at the Urban Aids Day promotion at the Ricoh Centre in 2004. “It answers the question people always ask me which is how I do this line of work successfully for a living. It also addresses the work ethic behind everything that I do and there is an activity section at the end of each chapter that people can engage in in an effort to achieve their goals.”
The spoken word artist, motivational speaker and emcee is happy to be his own boss.
“I just didn’t like the concept of work,” said Morgan, who five years ago hosted his first photography exhibit, The Sum of Her Parts, which explores the female body image. “I always knew I wanted to be self-employed, but I just didn’t know what I was going to do.
“When you grow up with immigrant parents (from Jamaica) doing jobs they don’t necessarily want to do but have to do, the things you hear them say about work taint your perspective of going to work for others and the entire work experience just seems like a negative thing. I just did not want any part of that. Poetry is what I do and that’s my full-time job. It pays the bills and keeps me and my family enjoying a comfortable existence.”