Get ready for a space jam! For the first time ever, music has been made from space. Astronaut Chris Hadfield and Barenaked Ladies frontman Ed Robertson sang live together – Hadfield from the International Space Station and Robertson and a youth choir from Toronto. Their song, I.S.S. (‘Is Somebody Singing)’, written by Hadfield and Robertson, premiered on Friday morning. Watch it above. It’s pretty catchy! [CBC]
The first national anthology of poetry by African Canadians will be released in celebration of Black History Month this February. Published by Frontenac House, The Great Black North: Contemporary African Canadian Poetry features the works of over 90 poets across Canada.
The poets are a diverse bunch in terms of form, history and geography. From big cities to small towns, the west coast to the Maritimes and beyond Canada’s borders to countries of origin like Somalia, Nigeria, Jamaica and Kenya, these poets bring a diverse voice and a unique history that weaves together the struggles and victories that have formed the African-Canadian experience.
“Freedom and a Farm.” The promise was exciting to the thousands of African-Americans, mostly runaway slaves, who were encouraged by the British to fight in British regiments against the Americans. They joined the tens of thousands of American refugees who had sided with the British during the American Revolution, and who pinned their hopes for a brighter future on the British slogan. The refugees left the newly independent states for British North America and pledged their loyalty to King George III.
Between 1840 and 1860, more than 30,000 American slaves came secretly to Canada to find freedom.
“When my feet first touched the Canadian shore, I threw myself on the ground, rolled in the sand, seized handfuls of it and kissed them.” These were the words of Josiah Henson recalling his first moments as a free man. Henson had escaped to Canada along the “underground railroad,” a network of secret paths, hiding places and safe houses that stretched from southern states to the borders of Canada. Like countless other immigrants, Henson came to Canada as a refugee escaping brutality and oppression.
The 1997 baseball season belonged to the memory of Jackie Roosevelt Robinson, the African American who broke Major League Baseball’s colour barrier fifty years earlier. In commemoration of Robinson’s courage, integrity, and determined excellence as a player and as a model for young people, every major league player wore a Jackie Robinson insignia, and Robinson’s uniform number, 42, was retired by every team in the National and American Leagues.
February is Black History month. We’ll help celebrate it with two entries dealing with music inspired and produced by two very different Afro-Canadian communities. The first is from Nova Scotia. You can get directly involved in this one by going to your post office where two stamps issued for Black History Month are on sale. The one I bought features the face of Viola Desmond. If you buy a booklet of ten you get her story. Stranded in New Glasgow in 1946 and waiting for her car to be repaired, Viola went to the movies to pass the time but found that the theatre was segregated. Blacks sat in the balcony. She refused to move from her orchestra seat and was jailed and fined. She appealed and finally, after a decade, won and destroyed Nova Scotia’s segregation laws. Buy the stamps and read the story.
The Underground Railroad was a network of conspirators working to help slaves escape the United States to find refuge in the British Empire and other places where slavery was illegal. In 1850, the United States Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which helped slave owners recapture their escaped human “property.” The act put escaped or free Blacks living in non-slave states in danger. Freedom was found through the underground railroad.
The new Heritage Minute tells the story of Richard Pierpoint, a black Loyalist and hero during the War of 1812.
In celebration of black history month, the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada is pleased to launch an article on the Nathaniel Dett Chorale. The Chorale is a Toronto based, 22-voice professional chamber choir founded in 1998 by conductor Brainerd Blyden-Taylor. It was named for the performer, composer and pedagogue Nathaniel Dett and was the first choir in Canada to actively promote Afrocentric music. The Nathaniel Dett Chorale is the only Canadian professional choral ensemble to comprise, but not entirely, members of African-Canadian descent.
Measha Brueggergosman (née Gosman) was born to Anne Eatmon and Sterling Gosman in Fredericton, New Brunswick, becoming at least the eighth generation of her family in Canada. At the time of the American War of Independence, African Americans were offered their freedom if they fought for the British, and many accepted, heading to Canada—especially the Maritime provinces.