One of the most exciting events about the upcoming long weekend is the annual TD IRIE Music Festival, a celebration of African-Canadian culture.
The event features music, dance, spoken word, literature, art, food and drink from the Caribbean and across the African Diaspora. To top it off, admission is free!
This year’s event will feature performances by Alison Hinds, the undisputed “Queen of Soca”, Richie Spice, “The Gideon of contemporary reggae”; Etana, one of reggae’s top new female artistes; Grammy winner, Richie Stephens; and calypso star, David Rudder.
As a special treat, the festival’s opening ceremonies will feature a Who’s Who of Toronto’s reggae elite, performing for the first time ever on stage together. Among the performers are Fergus Hambleton, JoJo Bennett and members of the Sattalites, Canada’s longest-standing reggae group; Rupert “Ojiji” Harvey and Carl Harvey of Messenjah; Tabarruk, led by Dr. Jason Wilson; Adrian “Sheriff” Miller, lead singer for Earth, Roots & Water, one of Toronto’s first prominent reggae bands in the 70s and later in the 80s for 20th Century Rebels, a progressive reggae band comprised of Jamaicans, Canadians and British-born musicians; and Michael St. George, one of Canada’s leading dub poets.
“Bands like Earth, Roots & Water, Ishan People, Truths and Rights, 20th Century Rebels, Messenjah and Sattalites laid the foundations for reggae music in Canada,” said IRIE Festival Artistic Director Phil Vassell. “The Toronto melting pot of the 1970s was fertile ground for the mixture of Jamaican-Canadian influences, and what happened in the music scene up until the early 1990s still reverberates within the pop music scene.”
The IRIE Music Festival will also present the 12th annual dance Immersion Summer Showcase. Among the dance ensembles scheduled to perform are Beyond Sound Empijaha, a collective of young, professionally trained drum and dance performers from organizations from across the Greater Toronto Area; Caribbean Dance Theatre, an all-female dance group; Manding Foli Kan Donis, a Toronto-based group that performs music from the Manding area; Tsingory Dance and Music of Madagascar, who perform Malagasy dance with live accompaniment and Eric Mensah, who has danced for top artistes in the music industry.
The event will conclude with a traditional island-style “blocko” featuring some of the city’s best DJs, including Carl Allen, who will spin a mix of reggae, calypso and soca.
The TD IRIE Music Festival will be held from Friday, August 1 to Monday, August 4 at Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto. The opening ceremonies featuring the legends of Toronto’s reggae scene will be at Nathan Phillips Square on August 1 at 12 p.m. Admission is free.
For more information, see ad on page 3, visit www.iriemusicfestival.com or call 905-799-1630.