As a 70th birthday gift to Archie Alleyne in 2003, close friends Howard Matthews and Paget Warner started a scholarship program in his name.
Considered one of Canada’s premiere drummers and an Order of Canada recipient, Alleyne is held in high esteem by his peers for his willingness to help young people enhance their musical careers along with his artistic talent and activism.
He vigorously protested the Canada Council exclusion of jazz artists from funding that was reserved for classical artists and, in the mid-1980s, successfully led a high profile lobby to ensure that Black musicians were represented in the Toronto Jazz Festival. As a proud Canadian, he petitioned festival programmers in the United States to include more Canadian musicians in their line-ups and appealed to local companies to invest in the Canadian music scene through sponsorships.
“Archie Alleyne is one of the absolute jewels in our community,” said award-winning actress/singer, Jackie Richardson. “He’s respected, revered and very community-minded.”
Richardson and Alleyne have collaborated to organize a musical production featuring the 10-piece Archie Alleyne Evolution of Jazz Youth Ensemble with Aijia Waithe and Kamil Andre Dewhurst.
“I was with Archie when he started the Evolution of Jazz adult ensemble,” said Richardson, Canada’s foremost singer of gospel, blues and jazz. “Archie is very much interested in the development of Black youth, so it was no surprise that he started a youth ensemble to mentor young people and give them a platform to showcase their talent.”
All of the proceeds raised from the show on Saturday night at Daniels Spectrum, 585 Dundas St. E., will go to the Archie Alleyne Scholarship Foundation.
In addition to raising financial resources, Richardson will pay tribute to five Black women who have inspired her and effected positive change in Canada and beyond. They are Salome Bey, Rella Braithwaite and her daughter Diana and the late Kay Livingstone and Jodie Drake.
Widely acclaimed as Canada’s first lady of the blues, Bey has dementia and is in a nursing home.
“Salome has been one of my biggest mentors,” said Richardson who in 2004 won the South African Women for Women Friendship Award and a Dora Mavor Moore Award. “I call her ‘Mother Earth’. She said to me one day there is something about your voice that lends itself to the blues and you should sing that.”
One of the first Black families to settle in Scarborough, 91-year-old Braithwaite is a historian and descendant of the Black pioneers who cleared the land and established the Queen’s Bush settlement in Waterloo in the mid-19th century.
Her daughter is a dynamic blues singer.
Born in London, Ontario, to parents who published the province’s first Black newspaper, The Dawn of Tomorrow, which served the Black community for several years, Livingstone studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and at Ottawa’s College of Music and was employed with the Dominion Bureau of Statistics in Ottawa during World War II.
Her interest in the performing arts led to a position as host of a community radio program featuring music and poetry and later as the host of CBC Radio’s The Kay Livingstone Show, exploring the traditions and cultural activities of Blacks around the world and promoting an understanding of the contributions of Blacks to Canadian society.
The founding president of the Canadian Negro Women’s Association (CANEWA) which morphed into the Congress of Black Women Canada died suddenly while returning from Mexico in 1975 at age 57.
An extraordinary blues and jazz singer, Drake – who died in January 2000 – consistently promoted Black music.
“Jodie was a mentor who helped opened doors for many Black Canadians,” said Richardson.
Tickets cost $50 for the show, which starts at 8 p.m.