By RON FANFAIR
At a very early age, it was evident that Sanae Paris was destined for artistic stardom.
“She was singing, dancing and acting at age two and when she reached four, I enrolled her in dance classes with a focus on jazz and Afro-Caribbean,” said her mother, Kizzy Paris. “When she turned nine and started singing around the home, I purchased a hand-held video camera and started posting her videos online.”
A video caught the attention of the organizers of the 23rd International Black Summit in Ottawa in September 2013 who invited Sanae Paris, then 11, to perform.
Extremely satisfied with her first major performance and wanting to provide her daughter with a bigger platform to showcase her artistic skills, Montreal-born Paris – who resided in Ottawa for 19 years – relocated to Toronto with her daughter last year.
“The arts scene in this city is very vibrant and I love the energy,” said Paris. “I also wanted my daughter to go to a recognized arts school.”
While downtown a few months ago shopping for a graduating dress for the 14-year-old, Paris saw an advertisement for Honey Jam, an annual summer event for young women aspiring to showcase their artistic talents in myriad musical genres.
She shone in the audition and is among 15 talented artists from across Canada who will take part in the 21st annual showcase on Thursday, August 11 at the Mod Club, 722 College St., starting at 8 p.m.
“This is the first time I will be on a big stage in Toronto and I am very excited for the opportunity,” said Sanae Paris who is enrolled in the Etobicoke School of the Arts and whose pet subject is math because “it’s challenging”.
Though her favourite artists are Beyoncé and Christina Aguilera, the young girl has chosen to perform Adele’s “One and Only” at the Honey Jam show.
“That song makes me think about my brother,” said the younger of two children.
Taj Paris manages Wild World pet shop in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
Sanae Paris and Brooke Pastuch, who is enrolled in Mayfield Secondary School’s regional arts program, are the youngest performers this year.
“We have had a 12-year-old before, but it’s rare to have them so young,” said Ebonnie Rowe who started Honey Jam as a one-off event celebrating the all-female edition of the defunct Mic Check magazine that Rowe edited. “These two 14-year-olds are cute and extremely talented and I am very impressed by their maturity level. We conducted a five-hour workshop and I was concerned that it might be too much for them. They were however very prepared. They weren’t bored, they took notes and were very engaged. They are hardworking, focused and clear about what they want to do.”
Unlike the teenagers preparing for their Honey Jam debut, Haviah Mighty will be making her third appearance.
“I gained so much from my exposure in 2011 and 2012 that I thought it was worth giving it another shot,” said Mighty who completed Fanshawe College’s two-year music industry arts course and is employed with Long & McQuade, the largest chain of musical instrument retailers in Canada.
The allure of a trip to Barbados is another reason that Mighty, who will perform an original she wrote – For Free – at the Honey Jam event, is back.
Over the last four years, a Canadian is offered the opportunity to perform at Honey Jam in Barbados. This year’s event takes place on November 5.
“I have been to Barbados twice, the last time being in 2011 and I would love to go back because I had a great time,” said Mighty, whose British-born mother has Bajan roots.
The Toronto-born artist collaborated with Keysha Freshh, Lex Leosis and Phoenix Pagliacci for a cypher to celebrate International Women’s Day last March.
The freestyling rap battle went viral, reaching almost two million viewers in five months.
Close to 100 artists from across Canada auditioned for this year’s Honey Jam.
“There was one live audition in Toronto and artists who couldn’t come for that sent in submissions online,” said Rowe.
A 12-member panel of the music industry experts judged the auditions.
“We are looking for a variety of music genres,” said Rowe, the president of Phem Phat Entertainment Group. “An artist could have been awesome in one music form and not get chosen because there were too many artists in that genre who did well and we couldn’t select them all because we are looking for variety.”
In addition to having their original songs played on radio, the 15 artists will attend a free music industry workshop at Harris Institute and the OVO music summit and receive personal vocal and performance coaching from celebrity coach Elaine Overholt of Big Voice Studios and one-hour artists & repertoire consultation time from Universal music.
Some artists will receive $6,500 in Yamaha Canada equipment, attend Canada’s Walk of Fame Awards on October 6, do song demo sessions at Slaight Music Studios and have an opportunity to participate in Canada’s Music Incubator 10-week professional development and perform at TD’s Union Summer Series.
Honey Jam graduates include rhythm & blues singer, Jully Black, who made her first concert appearance at the inaugural Honey Jam; two-time Grammy winner, Nelly Furtado, who has a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame; rapper/actor, Michie Mee and singer/songwriter, Melanie Fiona.