In support of this year’s Black History Month at the University of Toronto Scarborough, a combination of Black artists and entertainers graced the stage at Rex’s Den for a night of celebration. With moving, inspiring and engaging performances, notable Black talents within the UTSC community and beyond shared their art in the form of song, dance, rap and poetry. Here’s more about each of those acts.
Kirk Diamond, the lead singer for his reggae band The Movement of Ahryel, fuses different musical genres to appeal to all types of listeners.
“With Black History Month, a spotlight shines on the achievements, creations and inventions that we did. It’s more than just slavery, [which is just] a small piece of the actual history.”
Stretch Steele is the lead guitarist for The Movement of Ahryel. For him,
“Blackness is everything. Music started with Africa… and music is everything.”
Harmony Pike is a singer/songwriter, poet and creator. For Pike, Black history is not just one month, it’s every day of the year.
“I like to keep it real and speak about the topics a lot of people won’t speak about. I like to reel people in with my pain and share my truth.”
UofT alumni Safa Ali is an urban/hip-hop dancer who performs, choreographs and teaches. As a Black, Muslim woman, Ali understands the stigmas associated with her identity but says dance allows her to explore and express herself through movement without judgment.
Hailing from Ajax, Ontario, singer/songwriter Aaron Ridge’s music is a combination of old and new styles using traditional instruments and digital sound, according to Spotify.
He says that:
“Black History Month is an opportunity for Black people to celebrate our culture, our heritage, [and] our history. And all the things we love about ourselves.”
Hailing from Toronto, Zachariah Highgate is a rapper, singer and songwriter among many other titles. As a mixed Black-Canadian, his heritage was instilled from an early age. Whether it’s his creative work or daily lifestyle, Highgate says he is
“always making sure I’m portraying Black excellence.”
Markus Jackman a.k.a. Markus Aurelyus is a singer/songwriter. For Markus, Black History Month is
“an honouring of the past, an acknowledgment of black accomplishments, struggles, but also success.”
Kwabi Dansoh, also known as SQ when he’s on the stage, is UTSC’s very own Campus Security officer who writes and sings his own rap songs. For him, Black History Month is
“an opportunity to recognize those who’ve contributed so much to humanity.”
Mars The Poet
Mars The Poet, aka Marcus Medford, is a UTSC alum who published his first poetry book Book of Mars.
“I am a Black man, and that informs and impacts a lot of interactions I have.”
Salma Shariff is a ‘self-identified creative’ who writes poetry and songs, and sings.
“My art is me, so my identity is going to be a part of that no matter what."
A collective of young singers known as All Cards on Deck (ACOD), believe that
“Black History Month is a way to show support for Black culture”.